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Reading Slothfully

I was told in elementary school that I only could read at half the speed for success in college. Oh well, one benefit of slow reading is you get to live with the characters a longer period of time. I read in a vain attempt to better understand people. At my other homes, I'm known as a spouse, pop, guy in the choir, physical chemist, computer/web dilettante and child-care provider. In theory, I'm a published author, if you consider stuff like Quenching Cross Sections for Electronic Energy Transfer Reactions Between Metastable Argon Atoms and Noble Gases and Small Molecules to count as publications. I've strewn dozens of such fascinating things to the winds.

Currently reading

The Spirit of the Border
Zane Grey
Ramona the Brave (Ramona, #3)
Beverly Cleary
The Underground Man (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Ross Macdonald
Delilah of the Snows
Harold Bindloss
Mrs. Miniver
Jan Struther
Betsy-Tacy Treasury (P.S.)
Maud Hart Lovelace
A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens
The Way Some People Die
Ross Macdonald
Envy of Angels
Matt Wallace
The Fellowship of the Frog
Edgar Wallace

The Distant Echo

The Distant Echo - Val McDermid For some reason, this book is listed as the first of the "Karen Pirie" series. I'd read one further along the line (#5, I think it was) and figured to try to begin at the beginning. Karen Pirie has only a couple of cameo appearances in this book. Weird.

So, we begin in 1978. Four extremely inebriated youth are staggering home after a late night of partying and one of them falls across the body of a young bar maid, Rosie Duff. She's been stabbed. The police, not really knowing what to do, figure one of the boys is a chief suspect, and the tabloids certainly like them as perps. But, all attempts to find incriminating evidence on any of the boys is not to be found.

Then we fast forward twenty-five years. The police decide to open up a cold case, using the tools of modern forensics that were unavailable at the time of Rosie Duff's original killing. In addition, it appears that Rosie Duff had had a child at one time—immediately adopted off and well hushed— and he has decided that the boys must pay for having murdered his mother. He becomes quite obsessive about it. But, for some reason, most of the forensic evidence from 25 years previously has mysteriously disappeared.

Next thing you know, first one, then a second of the boys, now of course men with various careers, is killed off in suspicious circumstances. So what is going on?

Basically, the police don't seem to be doing much of anything, and it's some of the original four who begin doing a bit of sleuthing on their own to come up with a surprising solution.

This was a pretty interesting and engaging book, but as I said, attributing it to a "Karen Pirie series" is a bit of a stretch.

The Red Pony

The Red Pony - John Steinbeck My spouse heard a piece of music on the radio by Aaron Copeland that had apparently been composed for a movie version of Steinbeck's novella. Well, I'd never heard of this book, so naturally, when I discovered my library had a copy I could snag, I downloaded it.

Basically, this is a series of four short stories with a common set of characters. The main character is a 10-year old boy, Jody Tiflin, who lives on a ranch in the Salinas Valley in California, with his father, a rather stern disciplinarian named Carl, his mother, and a ranch hand, Billy Buck, a grizzled old character with a knack for dealing with horses.

The first story involves a red pony for which Jody is supposed to learn to care. On the second story, Jody interacts with a drifter. The third story has another pony in it, or rather a pregnant mare. I've already forgotten the fourth. I dunno, this book didn't do much for me (maybe 2½ *s?).

Murder in Exile (Frank Cole Mysteries)

Murder in Exile (Frank Cole Mysteries) - Vincent O'Neil My brother-in-law, Richard, apparently knows that I'm one cheap bastard, and don't much like paying for books. So, he recommended this one, which was available for free on Amazon. He'd met the author recently at a conference and he'd rather liked him. So, I figured, what the hell, why not give it a go?

So, it seems that Frank Cole had run a reasonably successful software company for a while. Then things went sour and he went bankrupt. One of the things that came out from his bankruptcy trial was that he would have to begin paying back the money he owed if he were to earn more than a certain amount, essentially more than the bare minimum for survival. So Frank's lawyer told him to go live in a poor part of Florida, the panhandle area, and take only a few short-term gigs, as the need arose. Thus, Frank works piecemeal as a "fact checker". He has good computer-based investigative skills and will check out facts for insurance companies and the like. Mostly, he searches on-line computer data bases to do background checks on various people. Much of the checking is done on computers at the local library, and Frank has become BFFs with the reference librarian, who like most librarians (imho), is awesome. Frank claims that he most certainly won't do private investigation, where he might have to be dealing with people.

A young man, Eddie Gonzalez is a hit-and-run victim while out on an evening jog. The police figured he'd been hit by a teenager who was out joyriding in a stolen car. But, it seems that Gonzalez had only a few weeks previously taken out a life insurance policy that made his fiancée the beneficiary. So, the insurance company figures it was an intentional suicide, and hires Frank to do some fact checking so as to establish that Gonzalez was sufficiently sketchy as to do such a thing. [To me this doesn't make any sense at all, but what do I know? I suppose if one is living in despair and plans suicide anyway, doing so in such a way as to benefit someone else makes sense. I should remember that the next time I think about committing suicide. How can I contrive my suicide so as to benefit my spouse and children?]

Anyway, Frank does some investigating. It seems that Eddie was a pretty good guy. Also, it seems that a jogger who dresses similarly to Eddie and who takes a similar course is a very rich guy, and there might be benefits to bumping off the rich guy. He was about to sell off the family shipping business to people outside the country.

So, perhaps Eddie's death was a case of mistaken identity. Then too, the type of vehicle used in the accident/murder seems to have been meticulously chosen, as was the location where the hit-and-run occurred, and the disposition of the vehicle after the hit-ant-run. So, "just an accident" makes no sense.

Well, anyway, Frank gets drawn in and does more investigating than he'd like. Eventually, the perp is fingered and so forth.

This book is written in a style similar to hard-boiled detective fiction such as works of Raymond Chandler, or Ross Macdonald. It's not quite so hard-boiled, perhaps just soft-boiled. But it's very engaging and overall a GoodRead. It seems my brother-in-law knows a thing or two after all.

Pilotage

Pilotage - Nevil Shute This is the second of the two novellas that Shute wrote early on in his career, but which he decided against publishing. His family, figuring to make some extra cash, did publish them. The two novellas are related, in that they have some common characters. But, if truth be told, they're not nearly up to the quality one would expect from Nevil Shute. Still, neither are exactly bad reads, perhaps just so-so or meh! reads.

Anyway, it seems that Peter Dennison is somewhat smitten by Sheila Wallace. He tells her that he has a job in Honk Kong that will allow him to afford to marry her. She turns him down because she knows he'd be unhappy in Hong Kong, but unfortunately, implies to him that she would be the unhappy one.

So, Dennison goes off into a funk. He takes his sail boat out into the English Channel for a few days, but has a run-in with a much larger ship and is injured. The ship is owned by Sir David Fisher, who is working with Stephen Morris and Capt. Rawden (prominent in the first novella) on a scheme to launch an airplane (well aeroplane, I suppose) from a ship so as to reduce the amount of time important documents can be sent between Europe and the U.S. It seems that airplanes in those days—shortly after the end of World War I—didn't have the ability to fly more than about 1000 miles. So, the idea was to sail the airplane for the first 2000 miles across the Atlantic, and then launch the plane for the rest of the trip. That way they could cut down the transit time from something like 7 days to something like 4 or 5 days.

Dennison, of course doesn't know any of this. But, Sir David seems to remember some sailing history and finds that Dennison was quite a sensation as a sailor and as a navigator in his teen years. They check him out and hire him to be Morris' navigator when they do the test run. Oh, and also, Dennison can pilot Sir David's sporting yacht in the various races in which rich people indulge themselves.

Well, that gives a bit of the story. It's better than the first novella in the series, Stephen Morris, but still a bit rough in spots, as would be expected by something Shute himself didn't deem to be publishable.

When I was in about 4th grade, my father had a gig working on a project that was to launch jet planes from platforms. I think the idea was to have the planes on flat-bed train cars, or perhaps behind huge trucks, that would get the planes to strategic locations, where they could be launched as needed. The work was at an airfield in California, so that year, we got to have our family vacation in California, first a couple of weeks at a motel (with an actual swimming pool!), while my dad did his work, and then a travel around the fun parts of California. I wonder what my dad would have thought about this book. He was an airplane guy.

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust - Alan Bradley I don't remember all that many details from the preceding book in this series, which is a pity, in that it would have helped me better understand this one. Whatever, Flavia is sent into exile in Canada. Sent to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Toronto to be exact. She is a member of a mysterious "cult"/"spy ring"/something known as the Nide. But no one can let on that they're members of this group, other than hinting at something about pheasant sandwiches. It's all oblique.

Anyway, the day she arrives at Miss Bodycote's Female Academy, a body falls out of her chimney. Who is it? Could it be one of the former students who disappeared mysteriously? Suffice to say, Flavia wanders around a lot, thinks about chemistry a lot, and even does some experiments. Eventually she figures it all out, but for some reason, is deemed not Miss Bodycote material, and is shipped home, where, we presume, she'll have another adventure with her chemical laboratory and sisters.

I gave this 4*, but it should only be 3*+.

Interestingly, two days after I finished this book, my spouse and I were watching a video of Dorothy Sayers' Strong Poison. Towards the end, they set up a chemical apparatus to do arsenic analysis, almost exactly as described by Flavia's analysis in this book. Pretty fun to read about it, and then see it performed in "real life".

Another weirdness is that all the rooms at Miss Bodycote's Female Academy are named after famous women. Flavia lives in Edith Cavell. Edith Cavell was a nurse in WWI who saved people no matter what side they'd taken. She was executed. The very next book I read had a reference to Edith Cavell in it, something about Edith Cavell in drag.

Carmilla

Carmilla - Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
So, when I read Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals, he made friends with a guy named Theo who was a naturalist, among other things. Gerry would visit Theo and talk about critters. Also, it seems, Theo had a wonderful library, one that included oodles of books about wild life, but also mysterious books by authors such as Conan Doyle and Le Fanu. Huh? I thought. Who is Le Fanu? So, of course, I had to look him up. It seems Le Fanu was a Victorian writer who wrote oodles of stories about ghosts and other super natural kinds of things.

It seems that some quarter of a century before Bram Stoker, Le Fanu wrote about vampires. These particular vampires appeared to have a rather lesbian sensibility. Whoa, why not read that? And, so I did.

Well, it's an ok story, I guess, but not really all that much my cup of tea. But, it was rather short, more like a novella. It's all about people in some mountainous, wooded place in Eastern Europe, with moldering "schlosses" and such like. Beautiful young women who have weird dreams and begin to "decline". Other beautiful young women who appear and disappear at strange times, and are generally not up and about much before mid day. If your taste goes to vampirey things, this isn't half bad. If you prefer a bit more reality in your reading, you could do better. Actually, as far as I remember, I rather liked Bram Stoker's Dracula. This, was ok, but perhaps my tastes have developed in the seven and a half years since I read Dracula. Or, perhaps Stoker's portrayal is more realistic.

Were I able to give half stars, I'd downgrade my rating to a ***-, or else a **+.

Stephen Morris

Stephen Morris - Nevil Shute This was pretty tedious. I think I know why Shute didn't publish it during his own life. It could have been a decent story, but was very uneven. And, it dragged. Shute is one of my favorite authors, and this book is not up to his standards. As I said, he kept it buried during his lifetime.


So, at the beginning, young Stephen Morris has lost his job in rubber and decides he can't afford to marry Helen Riley. So he breaks off their engagement. Then, since his real passion had been flying—he'd been a pilot in WWI—he hooks up with a small "commercial" flying outfit run by Helen Riley's cousin, Capt. Malcolm Riley, who was a sort of famous flier in the war. Riley and his partner, Stenning, hang out around vacation spots and take people on joy rides. It's the early days of aviation, and people find it exciting. It's also the early 1920s, so people still have some extra cash, the depression being some 6 or 8 years in the future, and no one knew it was coming in 1923 when this book came out.

Well, things go along for a while, but business falls off and Riley and Stenning decide to throw in the towel. As a result, poor Morris is out of a job again. But he hooks on with a guy who designs planes. Morris, having earned a degree in Mathematics at Oxford, could help out on the design side of things, although C.G.H Rawdon can't afford to hire him to work in the office. So, they agree that Morris will work for free in the office for a while (which is to say, being an unpaid intern is not a new thing) and also be on hand to do some piloting when the need arises.

Well, things drag on, but I've set the scene, so to speak. Generally, this book is packaged with a second novella, Pilotage. But I was afraid that Pilotage might be similarly deadly, so moved on to something else. Sometime in the new year, I'll give Pilotage a "fly".

The Incredulity of Father Brown

The Incredulity of Father Brown - G.K. Chesterton This is the third in the series of Father Brown books. I read the first two back in 2011. The first was ok, the second, meh. But I thought to read some more because my spouse has taken up watching Father Brown videos, on our son's Netflix account, in the middle of the afternoon. Sometimes she even cons me into joining her at the computer. I'm beginning to be drawn in. I suspect there is virtually no similarity between the books and the videos, except for the main character's being a Roman Catholic priest who carries an umbrella around. For one thing, the videos are set well after WWII, whereas the first two books in the series were written before WWI. This, the third in the series of five, short-story books came out in the 192os.

The common theme of the stories in this volume is that someone dies in a way that seems to indicate a supernatural cause. Everyone jumps to the supernatural conclusion...except Father Brown. Now, Father Brown, being a Roman Catholic priest, does fervently believe in some things we might consider supernatural. But he's not much taken in by superstition, and generally looks for a practical answer to the conundrum of the moment.

I think I liked this series of stories better than I liked the second series, but I can no longer be sure because it was 7 years ago that I read, and declared myself to be unimpressed by, those stories. These were ok, but I find short stories difficult to read. Basically, if one can't read them in one sitting, it's way too easy to lose the thread. Novels are much easier to grasp because one naturally lives with them for several days, and also because a single chapter or two is much easier to finish in a single sitting than is a short story such as one of these. Perhaps it's my age, or the fact that I read at only half the speed for success in college, but I'm heading back to a nice juicy novel.

Searching for Caleb

Searching for Caleb - Anne Tyler So, my spouse's best friend from high school has a daughter, Becca, who just gave birth to a son. Apparently, in Jewish culture, it is common to write up a little essay on the new child's name and what it means to the parents. Becca's new son is to be named Caleb, and one of the reasons, it seems, is that one of her favorite books is Searching for Caleb. So, I figured I should check the book out. It was quite good.

It seems that back in the 19th century, Justin Peck set up a very successful import/export business in Baltimore. One of his sons, Daniel, decided to study law. The other son, Caleb, wanted to be a musician, but he was forced by family pressure into taking over the family business.
But, one day in 1912, Caleb had had enough and he disappeared. No one knew where he went, and no one bothered much trying to find out. Well, some sixty years (more-or-less) later, Daniel takes it into his mind to find his brother Caleb. He gets his granddaughter, Justine, to help him. Justine was a bit of a free spirit, having taken up fortune telling and having married a cousin, Duncan, also a bit of a family renegade. Duncan was restless and kept switching from one location and one career to another every couple of years.

Anyway, we have sections where we learn about the family or mostly repressed individuals living in the same neighborhood in Baltimore (the city of my birth). And also sections wherein Justin and Daniel wander around looking for clues to the whereabouts of Caleb. It's all rather fascinating, and well worth the time to read through to find out whether or not Caleb is actually found in the end (I know, but I'll never tell).

The Goodbye Look

The Goodbye Look - Ross Macdonald I really need to write down my thoughts and impressions about a book sooner than two months after having read the book. Whatever, this is pretty much classic noir, private-eye fiction. Ross Macdonald is a worth successor to Raymond Chandler.

So, Lew Archer is hired by John Truttwell, a lawyer, to help find a missing gold box that belonged to Truttwell's neighbors and friends, Larry and Irene Chalmers. It also appears that the Chalmers' son, Nick, is missing, and perhaps the gold box with him. There's much that the Chalmers don't want Archer to know, which, of course, hinders his investigation.

As Archer investigates, he untangles various weird relations from the past, a previous trauma Nick suffered as a child, which may impact the present, and so forth. Very tangled, very convoluted, and very engaging.

The Innocence of Father Brown

The Innocence of Father Brown - G.K. Chesterton When I read this, in August, 2011, I wasn't much keeping track of things (it's November 2018 when I'm trying to remember this stuff). This was a book of short stories about a Roman Catholic priest in England. He solved crimes in his spare time...or something. My recollection was that it was ok, but not all that great. But then, I'm not much of a fan of reading short stories.

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen "For what do we live but to make sport for our neighbors, and to laugh at them in our turn?"

And so, here we are...

I dunno, what can one say about one of the great masterpieces of English literature. I know that my friend, Michael, an actual English teacher would be appalled by my characterization of Austen as a master of English literature, he's more taken by X-Men comix, but whenever I read Austen, I'm enthralled. I've read this book multiple times and seen at least three movie adaptations of the tale. It never fails to engage me.


The Flaming Forest

The Flaming Forest - James Oliver Curwood My grandfather-in-law was a huge fan of James Oliver Curwood. When I'd visit my spouse-to-be at her parents' house in New Hampshire, he'd be sitting in a chair reading Curwood. So, I borrowed a copy or two and got interested as well. After he passed away, I inherited his collection of Curwood novels (most of which my spouse recently gave away to our church's annual "Faire"). But, I'm wondering about this particular one.

When we were first married, my spouse and I used to read to each other, and some of the things we read were Curwood (also The Lord of the Rings). In particular, we read this one, The Flaming Forest. We used to jokingly call it The Flaming Asshole. I thought perhaps we were engaging in a play on words, but now that I'm re-reading this book after several decades, I'm wondering if we renamed the book because the main character was one, a flaming asshole that is.

Anyway, we have David Carrigan, a most noble specimen of the Royal Mounted Police. He's off in his beloved north woods, tracking down the ruthless killer, Black Roger Audemard. For many years, people thought Black Roger was dead, but then he was sighted, and Carrigan has been dispatched to bring him to justice.

But, as the book opens, Carrigan is on a river bank, hiding behind a rock because someone is shooting at him. Eventually, he feels a searing pain in the side of his head and passes out. When he comes to, a most beautiful woman is looking at him with concern written all over her face. Then he passes into and out of consciousness and feels like there are actually two women, one with lustrous black hair and beautiful eyes, and one with flaming, golden hair and blue eyes. He gets dragged up into the trees and is then left.

Eventually, a canoe comes by with the stunning woman with the black hair and beautiful eyes and a massive, half breed with long, apelike arms. The half breed lifts him like a feather and deposits him into the canoe and they're off on the river. The magnificent woman is Jeanne Marie-Anne Boulain, and the half breed is Concombre Bateese. They put him in a well-appointed cabin on a rather large boat on the river and head "downstream". I put downstream in quotes, because they are so far north that downstream is actually towards the north further away from civilization. This is tough for those of us in more southerly climes to keep in mind: once you get far enough north, the rivers flow even further north into the Arctic Ocean. Anyway, they're heading north, further into the wilderness. Eventually, they'll go to the Chateau Boulain, the center of one of the richest fur gathering areas in the world.

"Marie-Anne" claims to be the wife of St. Pierre Boulain, the head of the fur trapping business. Why she tried to kill David Carrigan, and many other things will become clear once they reach the Chateau Boulain. In the mean time, Carrigan is locked into the cabin, trying to figure out how to escape so that he can take up his mission of bringing Black Roger Audemard to justice. It drives him mad that some broken shell of a man wanders around on the boat and in the woods, muttering, "Has anyone seen Black Roger Audemard?"

Well, it sounds like it could be quite an adventure. But the greatest part of it is Carrigan living in his mind. Although he is the manliest of men, and a 35-year old virgin, he has the mind of a 12-year-old boy who has just discovered testosterone. He spends much of his time, when he's not thinking about his exceptional manliness, exulting over the beauty of "Marie-Anne" and dreaming of possessing her. Occasionally he'll feel slightly guilty because she is the wife of another. Yes, the word "possessing" is correct. Carrigan is a hair fetishist who believes women are to be possessed, something one owns and cherishes. Certainly they're not real people like manly men.

Well, I could go on, but I don't want to. Basically, we have many boring pages of adolescent-boy drivel, with an occasional bout of manly-man posturing. Not a whole lot of actual action or adventure. Obviously, there is some. The title gives away that there is a forest fire involved as some point in the action.

I'm not sure why I gave this 3*s. It really should be 3*-, but we can't give pluses and minuses. It doesn't totally suck, so is vaguely better than a 2* book, but only just vaguely.

The Music Shop: A Novel

The Music Shop: A Novel - Rachel Joyce I was a bit skeptical about this at first. My friend, Gay, recommended it, and we don't exactly have similar tastes. However, this was actually a rather wonderful book. I expect it will have more meaning for people with some musical background.

Anyway, there's a small run-down street in London, Unity Lane, where a handful of shops are still "open" for business. Not that there's much business these days. Frank runs the music shop. He only sells vinyl records. He knows his stock quite well, and has a knack for "listening" to people when they enter his shop so as to ascertain what music would be most appropriate for them. It's not always what one might expect. One gentleman claims only to love Chopin, but Frank can "hear" that this man would benefit from a dose of Aretha Franklin, and sets him up. And so it goes with all his other customers, Frank "listens" to them for a bit and "hears" the music their souls need at that moment.

But one day, a woman collapses outside the shop, and Frank, upon going to her aid, can't hear a thing. It's most curious. Even more curious is that Frank is immediately smitten and besotted by the woman, one Ilse Brauchmann. Ilse comes back a time or two, and next thing one knows, she's signed Frank up for music lessons. In this case it's lessons in listening to music. Frank, it seems, had a rather eccentric mother and the two of them would spend hours lying on the floor together listening to great music. The mother would point out the things one might hear. It reminds me slightly of the time I became besotted by the Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by Bach. I'd come home from college and lie on my parents' living room floor listening to them over and over again. I don't think my siblings or parents were amused. To this day, I get goose bumps from the Partita no. 2 in d-minor, whether it's done up on violin, or the transcribed version folks play on the classical guitar.

Anyway, back to the book, we have the interplay between Frank and Ilse, but also with the other folks on Unity Lane, the tattooed, somewhat butch tattooist, Maude, who's in love with Frank; the shy Williams brothers who run a funeral parlor; Father Anthony who runs a gift shop featuring religious items; Mr. Novak the baker; and of course Kit, Frank's bumbling assistant. Over time Unity Lane goes further down hill, people leave and so forth. Then too, we begin to wonder if Frank and Ilse ever get together. Ilse has a mysterious past, after all, perhaps even a fiancé. Then intermingled with these concerns, we have flash backs to Frank's listening sessions in the olden days, lying on the floor with his mother.

If you like music, listening to music, with a spot of romance and mystery mingled in, this book can be rather a nice indulgence.

p.s. Sorry I didn't write this before the lapse of a month and several other books. Perhaps I'd have been more coherent. Doesn't matter. Just read the damn book. You won't regret it.

A Bear Called Paddington

A Bear Called Paddington - Michael Bond My spouse was throwing out the books we had for our kids quite some time ago. I guess she figured we'd never get the chance to read them to our grandson. Perhaps not. Whatever, I snagged a few before I took the rest to church to be sold at the annual church "Faire". Ordinarily, I don't read dead-tree books anymore, but now and again, I can make exceptions, right?

Anyway, this is the first in the Paddington Bear series. It seems that Mr. and Mrs. Brown are at the train station with their daughter, Judy. They see a small bear in a corner, and he seems to be lost. He is very polite and he tells them that he's come from "darkest Peru". The Browns take him home to live with them. They name him Paddington, after the train station where they found him. [For a few months, I lived in a place in London that was only a couple of blocks from Paddington Station. My daughter was born at St. Mary's Hospital, also just a block or two from Paddington Station. Obviously, we have "family" connections there. 😉 ]

So, Paddington becomes a fixture in the Brown household, a household that also has a son, Jonathan, and a housekeeper, Mrs. Bird. The problem with Paddington is that he is unschooled in the ways of the world. So he always finds a way to make a mess of things. But always an adorable mess, and always a mess that can be turned into something nice. So, we get lots of chuckles at his antics, and re-experience, for a short time, the joys of being 8-years old again.

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History - Kurt Andersen So Kurt Anderson is trying to tell us how we got to the place we are in America these days, a place where half the population doesn't have problems with a highly corrupt, ignorant, pathological liar running the country. Basically, he says we're pretty much always been this way. The people [European white people] who "settled" the country were prone to believing fantasies. In the southerly parts, the settlers sincerely believed there was gold to be had for the taking. In the northerly parts, people believed all manner of religious fantasies, and insisted their particular fantasies were the only "true" ones. So, they came for religious freedom, but only for their own kind of religion. Religious freedom was not for folks who thought differently.

So, anyway, he traces history through P.T. Barnum and the Buffalo Wild West Show, to Disney World, and then to the academics who denied the very existence of truth, it was only differences of opinion. They even claimed that scientific truth was only a construct of the rich and powerful to keep the lower echelons down. Or something. I thought those peculiar idiots had been discredited long ago, but apparently not.

Whatever, it's a rather scary story and doesn't give me much hope for the future. On the other hand, we've been believing fantasies for some 400 years now, so perhaps we'll continue to thrive on our peculiar fantasies for another 400 years.