Monday, September 06, 2010

Nightwatch: A Novel by Sergai Lukyanenko

A very Russian book, I have to say, without really knowing what that means. That is, I know it only as someone born into Middle class America in the midst of the Cold War, who has read very little Russian literature, learned only a little of the great nation's history, who has heard only a little of its music, who has only once been slightly drunk on vodka, can know it.

In short, this is a depressing book, but not deeply depressing. Resignedly depressing, I guess, describes it best. That's the point of the book, I think -- not the magic, not the epic struggles between Dark and Light which it borrows from classic high fantasy and dumps into the streets of 1990s Moscow, not the Twilight that doesn't mean teen angst and sparkly vampires.

Ok, enough pseudo-philosophy. Night Watch is a good book, I'll say, although I can't say I like it much. I fully expect I'll read the other three books in the series. I don't expect to enjoy them. I do expect to think about them, and to put a little vodka in a tiny cold glass.

Can I tell you what it is about? Not really. In part, it's because, as often happens for me when reading translated works, I feel like I'm missing some cultural understanding that would make things a little more clear. Anton, Svetlana, Olga, Boris/Gesar -- these characters are familiar but not quite real. Anton, the protagonist and voice for this tale -- told mostly in first person, although it's perfectly possible the few third person segments could be him speaking, too -- is young, learning what it is to be an Other, and mostly over his head. He himself is a minor part of the world in which he lives, yet he's at the crux of all the events that take place. He's that single grain of rice, the bit of grit, the one who doesn't really know what to do and doesn't really have the power to do much, yet is still there, the crux around which things swirl.

And it's a sad, barren. desolate world.

Hi there

I have yarn and needles and another Thing knitted, which meant I started yet another Thing this morning. I have three other Things I want to be knitting, but there's this whole lack of hands/arms/eyes problem. Can only knit one thing at a time and I have a Must Finish A Thing rule to avoid little knots of yarn with needles roaming the house and scaring the cats.

So far, everything I've knitted has been some form of Square or Rectangle. Today I am branching out with a Hat, which while knitted flat, will eventually be Round, like a head. This means Decreases. Yes, decreasing is the next skill to conquer.

Meanwhile, when I'm not knitting, I'm looking at knitting stuff online. One thing I saw was a nifty thing to hold my Hoard of Yarn. It was a hanging closet shelf thing, all cloth and nylon, that for the mere price of $50 would hold All The Yarn neatly and away from claws. I looked at it with lust for a while, then something clicked over in my head. I'd seen this before.

Then, while roaming through Lowes looking for something else (paint or bug killer or something like that) I remembered that little Click and I headed for the Organizer aisle. Yep -- for $17.99 I bought a fold down hanging sweater shelf (nylon, cloth, cardboard) which looks JUST LIKE the $50 Magic Yarn Hoard Holder (well, except for color). And it is in the downstairs closet holding my Hoard right this minute. I feel so frugal. I can buy more yarn!

In other news, Ophelia, my beloved and now elderly cat, is obviously winding down. She's 17, diabetic, and she'd getting frail. Oh, she's healthy -- good teeth, plenty of opinions, pooping and peeing, which means she's eating and drinking. But she's getting thinner, which seems to be the way cats tell you they are getting old. And she has returned to her gassy kitten ways. This is ok for her, but deadly for the rest of us. Currently, she likes to reside either under the couch (right where I sit) or in a window seat next to the couch (where I sit). As a new twist, today she's decided to lay on the throw pillow right next to me.

And she farts. Oh dear clouds in hell, she farts. It's deadly stuff, I tell you. I'm looking for a pattern to knit a gas mask.