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charlie, computer cat

December 2018

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Summer reading 2: Ballad of Halo Jones + re-read of Night Watch

Book: The Ballad of Halo Jones by Alan Moore and Ian Gibson
Amount read: 100%
Thoughts: Hmmm. I know this is a classic and all, but the first thing I feel like I want to say here is that I found the art style really tough to wade through. I've been consistently surprised, although I probably shouldn't be, by how much difference this makes when reading comics. Some of the pages were really busy and as well as not being aesthetically to my taste, I found some of it genuinely hard to parse and it took me quite while to figure out which character was which.

I wasn't in love with the pacing, and for a lot of the time I felt like I couldn't figure out what the story it was trying to tell was. Some bits really dragged and some bits I got kind of swept along with. If it hadn't been the book group book for the month, I'm not sure I would have persevered with it. That being said, the thing that I did like and found really interesting was something I noticed half way through, which is that the narrative is completely female focused; it's not in any way a feature of the story, but I realised part way through that all the characters are female unless there is a specific reason for them to be male and that reason is usually for them to be in some way a love interest/sex object. I just loved the fact that, just like in reverse in most stories, it's never mentioned, it's not a feature of the universe to be 90% female or anything, it's just that's the way the writer chooses to be focused.

Overall: So yeah. I'm kind of pleased to have read it from an academic point of view but I wouldn't recommend it as a piece of storytelling in and of itself.




Book: Night watch by Terry Pratchett
Re-reading because: Someone on my twitter feed mentioned re-reading this in order to do a podcast on it. I was looking for something to read just to chill out on the garden seat and started The Shepherds Crown, which I found depressing and will finish and post about later in the holiday so decided to switch to this instead.
Thoughts: I mean, in general TP books stand up incredibly well to re-reading because what's amazing about them is his razor sharp understanding of people and his use of language, not especially what happens. This is actually one I didn't love so much when I first read it because I was distracted by the plot, which didn't quite feel right in the setting somehow (I think I mentally associate time travel with sci-fi rather than fantasy) and I have found that on re-reading, I've actually enjoyed it a lot more because I focused in more on the themes and ideas he's trying to explore. I found myself thinking about the fact that although this book focuses on the way that Vimes was created by Keel/his older self but actually doesn't quite acknowledge that Carrot is also key in creating the Vimes of the present - like this plants the seed, but without Carrot, it wouldn't come to fruition or something? The line that sticks in my mind most strongly at the minute is Vimes talking to Ned Coates, probably the most effective revolutionary the book shows us (unless you count Vetinari), when he says "Don't put your trust in revolutions. They always come around again - that's why they're called revolutions. People die and nothing changes." I think it encapsulates what I love about Vimes as a character - that world weary cynicism is something that I think we share.
Overall: If you haven't read any Pratchett, I wouldn't start with this one, but I do love it and if you read it once and didn't quite connect, I would definitely recommend giving it a second pass.

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