Today at work someone called and asked, “How do you spell camaraderie?” So I told them, and they said “Thanks!” and hung up. What does it all mean??

The word “equip” looks so very odd. Why have I never noticed that before? Who lets these words into the language? That’s what I want to know.

I’ve started a new livejournal for art and fandom and things that I am in general too embarrassed to be seen posting here. I will now undo whatever good may have come of that secrecy by posting the link to it here, because I just posted an epic picspam on the blood aesthetic which I spent far too much time on to leave in the relative obscurity of the other journal.

I was thinking the other day, I’m kind of glad that I have so many tangible reminders of my time at college – otherwise the whole thing would seem so much like a glorious dream that I would doubt its reality. As it is, I have plenty of reminders just on myself. My left foot is scarred in two places from tripping while running barefoot through the graveyard during the last week of school. I have a strange bump on my left shin from, I think, climbing a tree. I have an ever-so-slight permanent bruise on my left hand from where I banged it sliding down the railing at the convocation center last December. My right ankle still clicks oddly from when I slipped off the cliff at Raven Rock and landed on it awkwardly. I almost hope they don’t heal (and it looks as if most of them are permanent), or I’ll think none of it ever happened…

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, or One of the Most Delightful Things I’ve Ever Read. Updated every Monday!
The art of Curlin Reed Sullivan.
The illustrations of Kate Slater, who has a great name, suitable for a stagecoach robber in the Old West.

I realized I’ve been really, really terrible about doing massive journal entries and not putting them behind an lj cut, for which I apologize profusely. To rectify!

I can always tell how good a book is by how many ideas it gives me and how many quotes I write down from it. With most modern books, I read them and think to myself, I can do much better. With most classics and truly good books, I read them and think to myself, I will never do half so well, but then they inspire me to actually do.

I used to hate hate hate sad books when I was younger. I hated schmaltzy, tearful endings where I felt like I was being manipulated into a maudlin display put on my the author. If the book didn’t have a happy ending, I had to make one up before I could go to sleep.

However, I find that as I get older, I really love sad books, the ones that are good and not just tearjerkers for trying to be tearjerkers. I think the shift came when I found Arthurian legend. I hated that it always, always ended in tragedy. I was so in love with the people, and I wanted so badly for it to end well, even as I knew it was completely impossible. There’s such a sense of fate to those stories. They were so beautiful and terrible…the story of the building of an idyllic kingdom which would ultimately be torn apart, and so many almosts and what-ifs and if-this-had-happeneds. I remember reading how, at the very end, Arthur and Mordred are negotiating a truce. Neither one trusts the other, so before they go into the parley, Arthur tells his knights that, if there is treachery on Mordred’s part, the signal to come to the rescue and do battle will be the drawing of a sword. Arthur and Mordred manage to settle things, and just as there is hope coming that peace will come, an adder slithers out of the bushes and bites one of the knights standing by, watching. The knight draws his sword to kill the adder, and the sunlight flashes on the blade, and all of the knights draw their swords and rush at each other, and the Battle of Camlann, death of Arthur, is set. I love the tragic loveliness of Arthurian legend, so much so that if I run across crushing, horrible beauty in any other book, I automatically think of the stories of King Arthur.

This comes to mind now, I suppose, because of some of my recent reading. I am a huge, huge fan of Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy, and I lately learned that she wrote two more Arthurian legend books. The Wicked Day is a novel from the point of view of Mordred, and normally I hate the now-cliched twist of seeing things from the villain’s perspective (I was mortally bored as a child by that kids’ book from the Wolf’s perspective of The Three Little Pigs), but I should have known better than to question Mary Stewart. It was exquisite and absolutely terrible in that lovely Arthurian way. I’m just now starting The Prince and the Pilgrim, her last novel of Arthur’s time, and I’m exceedingly reluctant to leave her world.

I’m also working on Arthurian Romances by Chretien de Troyes, which was written in the latter half of the 12th century and served as one of Malory’s main sources for Morte D’Arthur. Troyes was, incidentally, the first to mention Lancelot and Camelot, among many other Arthurian literary traditions that we take for granted today.

Captain Blood was awesome, and Sam very kindly passed along a link on Project Gutenberg for the sequel (!), so I’ll be enjoying that once I work my way through a few more books. I also read Cassino: Portrait of a Battle by Fred Majdalaney. It’s about a series of battles in the mountains of Italy, and I found it personally interesting because my grandfather fought there at the Rapido River disaster. I read a lot of military history in school, and it was good to get back into it for a while.

Then I read Erewhon by Samuel Butler, which I was hoping to love (Erewhon is Nowhere backwards, and how is that not fantastic?), but it was only so-so. It’s a satire in the style of Gulliver’s Travels by Johnathan Swift, and I’m actually not fond at all of Gulliver’s Travels, but I didn’t know what it was like when I bought it for 85 cents at Ed McKay’s. Ah well.

If I expected to like Erewhon, I expected to dislike The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. A person I rather disliked had raved about how great it was, and I was somewhat disconcerted to find that we shared any tastes in common. HOWEVER. My childish pre-reading objections aside, this book was one of the most carefully crafted, deliciously reserved, most heart-breaking books I’ve read. I highly recommend it.

I also read The Song of Roland, an epic in Old French (translated, obviously, as I don’t speak French, Old or modern), which was interesting and wholly politically incorrect by today’s standards. Er, more so than your usual epic. On the whole, I prefer Beowulf, but it was still pretty great. After that I tackled a book of poetry by Robert Frost, and I am dismayed that I didn’t know what a great poet he was before this. I got so tired of the standard Frost anthology fare: “The Road Not Taken,” “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening,” etc., but many of his other poems are insanely good. Go get a collection of his poems, they are worth it!

Today I read A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick because a coworker lent it to me, and was reminded again, vividly why I really just need to give up on contemporary literature, at least for a while before I turn into a bitter old hag. Sigh. It started so promisingly! I think it could maybe have been good. Maybe. I don’t know what happened (other than a frightful amount of sex, good grief), but it was pretty terrible. The very, very end redeemed it slightly, but not enough to make the book decent. I’m going back to King Arthur, thanks.