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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

A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens
The Way Some People Die
Ross Macdonald
Envy of Angels
Matt Wallace
The Fellowship of the Frog
Edgar Wallace
Code of Conduct (The Jani Kilian Chronicles Book 1)
Kristine Smith
A Good Death
Christopher R. Cox
The Black Cargo
John P. Marquand
A Highland Christmas
M.C. Beaton
Tales from Moominvalley
Tove Jansson, Thomas Warburton
Moominland Midwinter
Tove Jansson, Thomas Warburton

Ruined City (Vintage Classics)

Ruined City (Vintage Classics) - Nevil Shute Another gem by Nevil Shute. This time, we're dealing with an investment banker, Henry Warren. He's rather a workaholic, and his lively, entitled spouse is carrying on an affair with a "black man", which in this instance is an Arabian prince, or perhaps a Pakastani one. At any rate, not a "black man" by modern reckoning, by which we mean someone whose origins trace to sub-Sahara Africa (Yup, the Brits were pretty racist 75 or so years ago). When, on a business trip to Paris, he sees his spouse dining with the "black man", he resolves to divorce her, unless she agrees to give up her "gay" life and retire to boredom in the country. She, of course, is unwilling to do that.

Shortly thereafter, Warren, feeling run down and depressed, heads north for a bit of walking. He has an attack of something in his gut (twisted intestine I believe) and ends up in the hospital of a small city. He poses as another of their charity cases, an out-of-work itinerant clerk. The time is 1934, and everyone is out of work.

This particular town was once a thriving center of ship building. "Did you know that seven destroyers from the shipyard fought in the Battle of Jutland?" is a common refrain. But the shipyard, local rolling mill, and mine have all shut down some five years previously. The town and all its inhabitants are run down, both physically and emotionally. Mortality is exceptionally high at the hospital, and it is despair, rather than poor medical attention that is killing the patients off.

Warren befriends the "Almoner" at the hospital, which I think is likely the social worker who deals with the charity patients. Through her, he learns about the town and its troubles and resolves to do something about it, but quietly if possible. Along the way, we are introduced to some international corruption and intrigue, things that always seems to be a part of high finance. We also have a budding romance between the "Almoner" and Warren, but done in the Shute style of two people developing a strong friendship. None of this jumping ino bed stuff like modern literature. Personally, I think the Shute style is more appropriate for building lasting relationships.

Anyway, it's a good book. Perhaps a bit calm for those whose taste lies more with warriors, plagues and gore. But it is an apt commentary on the lives of real people in 1934, but the book's concerns also still mostly true today.