I hold you in my arms, yeah that's when it starts
I seek faith in your kiss, and comfort in your heart
I taste the seed upon your lips, lay my tongue upon your scars
But when I look into your eyes, we stand worlds apart
Where the distant oceans sing, and rise to the plain
In this dry and troubled country your beauty remains
Down from the mountain roads where the highway rolls to dark
'Neath Allah's blessed rain, we remain worlds apart
Sometimes the truth just ain't enough
Or it's too much in times like this
Let's throw the truth away, we'll find it in this kiss
In your skin upon my skin, in the beating of our hearts
May the living let us in, before the dead tear us apart
We'll let blood build a bridge, over mountains draped in stars
I'll meet you on the ridge, between these worlds apart
We've got this moment now to live, then it's all just dust and dark
Let love give what it gives
Let's let love give what it gives
Very Bad Day at school: I showed my students Monty Python, and they still sat there like scrambled eggs, refusing to respond. Perhaps I have confused them so much that silence seems the only option. I like the subject so much; why can't I make them like it too?
I also have been doing reviews, but now there's such a backlog I'll do them a bit at a time. Some fiction:
Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: What's it like to be autistic? Temple Grandin has given us the so-far definitive nonfiction accounts; various reviews of this book suggest that it might be the fictional equivalent. The narrator is Christopher Boone, an autistic boy who discovers a neighbor's dog spitted on a pitchfork. Fighting police suspicions, parental disapproval, and his own set of rules and terrors, he sets out to find out who killed the dog. I liked Elizabeth Moon's The Speed of Dark better, but that was sf and the autistic narrator was higher-functioning; Haddon's narrator is struggling against so many constraints that his accomplishments seem all the greater. It's just that his accomplishments are also only achieved at the expense of great pain, because Christopher can't stand to have things out of order and the world he has to investigate is incredibly disordered.
Nancy Kress, Probability Space: I've liked each book in this trilogy more than the one before. Kress mostly leaves the denizens of World, whose society of "shared reality" has been destroyed by the removal of an alien artifact that is both shield and doomsday weapon, to focus on the humans fighting against the mysterious Fallers. Old friends as well as new protagonists and antagonists show up; a lot of the book follows Amanda Capelo, Tom's fourteen-year-old daughter, as she tries to find out what happened to her kidnapped physicist father. Kress does a great job with Amanda, whose focus is realistically narrow (there's a great moment when she thinks everything will be okay because a cute boy likes her, as disaster for spacetime impends) and whose discovery of her burgeoning sexuality is tied in surprisingly well with the main story. Only one cardboard bad guy – Kress's weakness – detracts from the overall adventure. This trilogy as a whole is more successful than Kress's earlier attempts to extend the "Beggars in Spain" franchise; here she does have several books' worth of material.
Lemony Snicket, The Slippery Slope: Ten books about the misfortunes of the Baudelaire children and no improvement in their circumstances? Looks like it. In this one, we learn a little bit more about the relationships between the unfortunate Baudelaires, the unfortunate Quagmires, and the unfortunate Snickets, and I begin to hope that Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) can pull this story off without collapsing into X-Files level incoherence. A touch of current political commentary – look for what makes young Sunny blurt out "Busheney" – and some recognition that time has passed and the children are creeping towards adulthood help make this installment as fun as the ones before.
Terry Pratchett, Monstrous Regiment: In general, my appreciation of Discworld books is directly proportional to the presence of Sam Vimes. This book is no Night Watch, but Vimes still manages to affect the action, as a not-very-diplomatic emissary to a wartorn segment of the Discworld. A dirt-poor and hotheaded country, at war with everyone around it, is searching its villages for the dregs of society to recruit into the hard-pressed army, and young Polly Perks enlists, hoping to find her brother somewhere in the army. The only problem is that Borogravia, for which she wishes to fight, is sexist and fundamentalist, so she can only enlist by pretending to be a boy. As you'd expect, wacky hijinks ensue. Pratchett manages to be clear-eyed about the costs of war without deviating too much from his lighthearted style. All in all, a worthy addition to the chronicles.
Lois McMaster Bujold, Paladin of Souls: This sequel to The Curse of Chalion features a minor character from the first book, who didn't come off all that well from the perspectives of the protagonists. Here, the royina Ista gets a chance to have an adventure of her own, fighting her connection to the gods who cost her so much and trying to conform to the expectations her society has for a noblewoman. Of course, the gods aren't done with her just because she wants them to be. I'd prefer a new Miles adventure, but this book was still engaging, and when divine intervention is explicitly acknowledged as the reason for plot-furthering events I don't mind so much as when the coincidences are just supposed to happen.
Alan Dean Foster, The Mocking Program: I don't know why I picked this up; the last Foster book I read was terrible, and made me fear that I was a silly kid to like Flinx, the Man Who Used the Universe, and others from Foster's earlier books. This book, featuring Inspector Angel Cardenas of the Montezuma Strip, is not awful, but not terribly interesting either. There's a futuristic crime, and a futuristic manhunt, and a futuristic MacGuffin – get it? "Spang," Foster's made-up Spanish-English slang, is found on every page and serves mostly as a distraction. It doesn't seem based on the linguistic principles that govern creoles and other language cross-fertilizations, as I understand them. But then I almost never like books that require a glossary of their made-up terms so you can follow the narrative; when there are maps, I can just ignore them (sorry, Z.) but usually writers who put glossaries in expect that you'll need them. Likewise with geneological charts.
David Auburn, Proof: I saw Anne Heche in this play on Broadway, and enjoyed it mightily. So little of American popular culture respects intelligence, especially intelligence that isn't of immediate practical value in courtrooms or in the outfitting of spies. Proof is about a woman whose mentally ill father has just died (he's an active character, though) and who might be following in his footsteps as a mathematical genius or a nutcase. Catherine's older sister, who went away to New York while she stayed in Illinois taking care of her father, has come home to urge Catherine to move to New York with her, and one of her father's students is going through her father's notebooks. He finds an important proof – but who wrote it? And is Catherine doomed to follow her father into madness? The play doesn't answer either of those questions, but it does make you care about Catherine and the people around her, all of whom are not quite doing their best, but want to be.
J.A. Jance, Partner in Crime: J.P. Beaumont and Joanna Brady, together at last. If you don't know who Beaumont and Brady are, and probably even if you do, this crossover-type mystery won't appeal. Beaumont comes down from Seattle to Arizona when a case Brady is working on turns out to have connections to a corruption inquiry in Washington. Beaumont is sad, because his dead, murderous lady love, who left him a lot of money so he could drive a really nice car and still be a police detective, was from Brady's town. Also, Brady is having marriage troubles. Yeah, that's about as connected as it gets. The mystery isn't terribly mysterious, and the setup is very strange, involving a corrupt private prison system. The strange thing isn't the corruption; it's the idea that anyone would care what happened to the inmates.