I never did ask about the quantity of cheese our factory produces. Someone was in Richard’s nook before me and accidentally called him Richard Marzipan. Bad scene. You would think the number of sharp implements in a cheese factory would be limited, but Marzipan is the guy who pulls foreign objects out of the vats, so yeah, he had a collection of pointy bits. Mispronouncing guy had to get a bunch of stitches and was sent home early. I just went back to work.
It’s not really very jolly around there. People don’t care about Mild Cheddar in the holiday season so our work goes on rather pointlessly. There’s one person wearing the mandatory elf hat (with bells), but I think it was more a punishment than an eruption of festive spirit. I haven’t asked. Le sigh.
Last week I spent a goodly chunk of my paycheque on the second volume of The Absolute Sandman by Neil Gaiman (and artists). I did this for a few reasons. First, I don’t want Xmas presents this year (and am not buying them for anyone). These Absolute Sandman books are mainstays on the Xmas list, but now I could get it for myself. Second, for some reason it’s not available on Amazon.ca at a reasonable cost right now so I noticed it at McNally Robinson. Third, I wanted to read something in a big-ass tome, to feel like I was plumbing the depths of arcanity and such. That this volume of Sandman tales involves the lord of dreams coming into possession of hell makes it a good fit for that “reading a tome” experience.
Sandman comics are things I’ve known about through my entire comic-reading life (which isn’t actually that long). I may have only started reading comics when the original run was ending. I remember the spines of the trade paperbacks in the comic shop. I remember flipping through issues and not really being dragged in. One time at Campaign we were given a trade paperback by one of our book suppliers. I read it (it had the Midsummer Night’s Dream story in it) and I didn’t mind it, but I had other things to spend my money on like Transmetropolitan. So yes, I wasn’t a long-time fan or anything.
And then I started learning how influential it was, beyond the coolness of Neil Gaiman himself. How this was sort of a gothy bible, an artifact of the 1990s that I missed out on. But now I’m reading it. In Absolute form. While I would love to own books like Absolute Watchmen or the giant volumes of Sin CIty or Hellboy, I’ve read those stories, in many cases I on those stories already. But Sandman is this pristine land I’m walking through on these massive pages with their beautiful colouring et al.
Reading this doesn’t bring back memories of the first time reading these stories because this is my first time. I don’t know if this is forming the same kinds of memories for when I reread them in the future. Of being wrapped up in a blanket on my couch in my underheated condo, sipping tea and shooing away a cat. It’s not the same as if I’d been 17. Damned fine stories though.
Another Philip K Dick book featuring disjointed time, I felt Now Wait For Last Year did more understandable stuff with the time travel than Martian Timeslip. It’s 2055 and there’s a drug that lets people shift through time (as it kills them). Dr. Sweetscent gets hooked on the drug by his vindictive wife after he’s assigned to be the UN General Secretary/Supreme Dictator’s personal physician. They say that every PKDick book, no matter what its setting, is about California in the 1950s. If that is true, 1950s Californian women were horrible creatures.
Sweetscent is smarter than some of the other protagonists Dick writes, and the fact that this book had fewer viewpoint characters (than either Martian Timeslip or Dr. Bloodmoney) made it a bit more conventional a story. There’s an action scene where Sweetscent shoots an alien military ship out of the sky (Earth is a reluctant ally to an alien race involved in a war with another alien race. The political situation is reminiscent of The Android’s Dream.) There are urgent messages to be brought back in time and sent forward in time to save all humanity, but in the end his personal problems kind of trump everything.
In any case, I’m really enjoying these novels. They’re all in this Five Novels of the 1960s and 1970s collection I got for Xmas.
Friday was our staff Christmas/Going Away for the boss party. I had a very good time. Ate good food and talked about some library stuff and some not. I got to tell my “unacceptable Storytime theme” story to people who’d never heard it and who were properly flabbergasted. Met some of the people who I keep on hearing about but had never worked with. All in all a good time.
One of the former branchers quit the library and isn’t working anywhere right now. She said she’d looked at her life and asked if being a government employee was what she’d wanted out of her life when she was young and had dreams. It wasn’t, so she quit. And I filed that away in the “don’t work at the library forever” part of my brain. This is where working on the book is important. I still have the illusion that I am doing something interesting with my life. Although I haven’t heard what my first reader has to say about the first section yet.