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Author Topic: Miscellaneous Reading
Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Miscellaneous Reading
on: February 22, 2019, 13:43
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I couldn’t find a clean (no OCR detritus left over) online free version of P.G. Wodehouse’s Leave it to Psmith (second in the Blandings stories), so I purchased (after first perusing the free sample) it from Amazon for 2.99. This is definitely a cleaned-up version.

Twelve percent into it, so far so good. Psmith (who will always ring in my ear as “Peasmith,” despite the “P” being silent) has just been introduced. He’s a thinly-defined character so far, and not altogether a good or realistic one. But it’s very early.

I’m reading this on my relatively new (refurbished, actually) 7th generation (the previous generation) Kindle Paperwhite. It’s got some nice built-in fonts to choose from, but I’ve always had good luck with Georgia as a font. I installed that and it’s an improvement. It’s very readable and somewhat compact — but not compact in a way that makes it difficult to read.

I read with the screen set to read horizontally. This width is much more natural and closer to the width of a normal hardcover book. Taking one of those old things off the shelf at random, the Kindle Paperwhite in the horizontal positions is about 15 to 20% wider than a hardcover book.

I don’t like to squint so I have the text set to a fairly large 11 pt, justified (flush-left is also good for reading), small margins (thus maximizing the amount of text that will fit horizontally, and with the minimum spacing between lines. At this larger text size, this is plenty of spacing and books will generally fit about 8 lines of text to a screen. Yes, that’s relatively a lot of page-turning but not too bad.

I also bold-up the Georgia font by one click. Not all fonts or books (haven’t quite figured this out yet) will respect this setting. But this current one does and just that hint of bolding is beneficial. It looks like this:

Image

Timothy-
Lane
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Post Re: Miscellaneous Reading
on: February 22, 2019, 14:53
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That isn't even a full sentence on the screen? This reminds me (again) of Weller's Culture Made Stupid, which has a small 2-page excerpt like that from Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Weller says it only has 4 or 5 paragraphs each with 4 or 5 sentences -- and the excerpt is just a part of one sentence. Maybe he was raised on the German language, which I understand can work that way. (Weller has one item in the book that might be very relevant today, a suggestion that the First Amendment would be better if it had been cut off after the first 5 words.)

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Miscellaneous Reading
on: February 22, 2019, 15:19
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That isn't even a full sentence on the screen?

Well, there is a semicolon. But that is indeed a somewhat long sentence. Much like H. Rider Haggard, Wodehouse is nice to read because he is (generally) easy to read. And that’s not saying because it is Dick-and-Jane simple. Big words or small words, a lot of words or few words, clarity is an art and both of those authors have that (with Wodehouse a bit more on the Dick-and-Jane end of things). If you have clarity as your scaffolding then you can mix in all kinds of interest descriptions and techniques. It will hold up.

But in that case, I do think Wodehouse goes on for too long. End it at “of valiant gaiety” and then start a new thought. He didn’t and we definitely have a run-on sentence where one is not needed for effect. Next sentence could be: “Hers was a golden sunniness accentuated by the fact that, like all girls who looked to [and verbatim from here] Paris for inspiration in their dress that season, she was wearing black.”

Or, for a more complete rewriting by your beloved Editor:

“She was a girl of medium height, straight and slim. Her fair hair, cheerful smile, and boyish suppleness added to an effect of valiant gaiety. Hers was a golden sunniness accentuated by the fact that, like all girls who looked to Paris for inspiration in their dress that season, she was wearing black.”

In the above we eliminated such baggage words as “very,” the unneeded semicolon (just start a new sentence), no need repeating “her,” and “of her body” is superfluous. “Suppleness” doesn’t need this. And we don’t need the word “all” in front of “contributed.” Tight. Tight Tight. Small point on using the two-syllable “added” instead of “contributed,” but I like it better. That three syllables is an interruption, like hitting a small pothole when you could have kept the wheels turning easier.

But it’s likely these writers pretty much were writing stream-of-consciousness stuff with not a lot of editing. And who knows what “valiant gaiety” is. I have no idea.

LOL on the First Amendment.

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Miscellaneous Reading
on: February 26, 2019, 11:21
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I’m 27% into P.G. Wodehouse’s Leave it to Psmith (second in the Blandings stories). So far so good, but nothing earth-shattering.

This doesn’t (yet) apply to this book, but one of the over-used themes by Wodehouse (especially in the Jeeves & Wooster stories) is the bachelor who has no say in his betrothal. A girl will simply announce, “I’m going to announce our engagement, Bertie,” and that is taken by the man a definitive and irrevocable.

Maybe this somehow touches on some real-life aspect of the aristocracy — arranged marriages, and all. But time after time the only arrangement being made is by the would-be bride and no one else. And yet the men act as if they have no say in it. It’s a very tired and over-used scheme in his writing.

Timothy-
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Post Re: Miscellaneous Reading
on: February 26, 2019, 11:46
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I don't seem to recall encountering this theme, but then Bertie himself is a bachelor by choice -- women's as well as his own. You've obviously read a lot more Wodehouse than I have.

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Miscellaneous Reading
on: February 26, 2019, 12:03
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I've watched 2 episodes of the TV production and read Right Ho, Jeeves and both were crammed full of that. Maybe that's just my bad luck in watching/reading these particular works. But it strains credibility when a simple "No thanks" is all that's called for.

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Miscellaneous Reading
on: May 18, 2019, 07:33
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I started reading a bit of Jane Austen’s “Northanger Abbey.” I may continue with it later. But the problem with it is it seems a work of eked out and extended female drama. It may shock you to know that’s not my favorite subject matter. “Mark Twain” this is not. I’ll admit the prose is skillfully written. I’m just not sure I want to go there.

My latest Lincoln Lawyer novel, “The Gods of Guilt,” is rolling along on literary life support. It’s just good enough to keep going, but barely. What has turned me off at the moment may not be a McGuffin. I’m not sure what to call it. But it’s an over-the-top plot point (a car crash) out of the blue.

So I’ve returned for a bit to Clancy’s “Red Storm Rising.” Jane Austen this is not, which is at least one of its virtues.

Kung Fu Zu
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Kung Fu Zu
Post Re: Miscellaneous Reading
on: May 18, 2019, 09:58
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I have not read "Northanger Abbey," so cannot comment on that specific novel. But I should have warned you that all Austen's novels are written from the perspective of a young female of her era. Of course, the relationships between males and females play an important part of these stories because a woman's life was largely based around these relationships.

While I like much of Twain, I find his writings on things not American less well written. He can be pretty inconsistent in this regard.

Timothy-
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Post Re: Miscellaneous Reading
on: May 18, 2019, 10:14
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Well, "The Awful German Language" was fun, and as far as I know accurate.

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