I have spent much of the last week in a pleasant haze, in subway cars or during the later-evening couch hours mandated by the anti-insomnia protocol which forbids computer time at night, induced and maintained by the first five books of Dorothy Dunnett's House of Niccolo series.
There is something very comforting about knowing how many of them there are - eight books in this series, and then a whole other six-book series. I love multi-volume series (also very pleasant is discovering a crime novelist of excellence who has already published six or seven volumes in his or her series which can then be consumed at a steady but more or less voracious pace over the course of four or five days); I think that these are not in the end up to the standard of Patrick O'Brian on the one hand or Susan Howatch on the other, but I am now very much looking forward to reading the Lymond books once I finish with these.
Further link miscellany:
This year's "oddest book title" contest. (A number of these books inevitably sound to my ears highly worthwhile!)
Shackleton's whisky excavated from beneath floorboards of polar hut!
At the New Yorker, Macy Halford on the importance of e-mail to romance (with commentary by Abigail Adams) (courtesy of Amy).
On Thursday I saw Parsons Dance at the Joyce. The dancing was excellent, the music perhaps to a somewhat lower standard (though not as dire as I feared - it is a truly bizarre endeavor, though, with famous opera arias set as lavishly orchestrated pop songs - "La donna e mobile" as torch song really made me want to laugh! - it is the East Village Opera Company and their music can be sampled here if you are curious).
By far the highlight of the evening was the short prelude before the main piece. It is called "Caught," and it is truly spectacular - it takes advantage of the kinds of theatricality and athleticism one associates with Cirque du Soleil, which seems to me a very good idea indeed. The combination of strobe lighting and unbelievable jumps and timing truly makes it seem as though the dancer is flying through the air due some occult power - it is very "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," I loved it! There is a link here which gives some of the flavor of it, but the essence is exactly what cannot be captured on film or digital media - the staggering part of it is the way that after the flying sequence you suddenly see the dancer standing quietly at the back of the stage, only the sheen of sweat and the heaving ribcage speaking to the effort that has just been expended. Really magical!
(A good dinner afterwards, too, at the Viceroy Cafe. I had a steak salad - slabs of rare beef served on a heap of mesclun salad with balsamic vinaigrette and roquefort cheese, with cucumber, tomato and avocado laid out delicately around the plate - and a truly delicious helping of tiramisu.)