The Marvels by Brian Selznick. It’s children’s fiction. It’s 665 pages long. The cover is beautiful. The first 390 pages are a story told only in pictures. The next 150 pages are mysterious and magical. The last 100 pages were from clear left field. I didn’t understand the actual ending. This had so so so much potential to be amazing. And it was amazing for 530 pages! 80% of the entire, monstrous book! (Although it takes only 2 hours or so to get through the first 400 pages, and after that the font and margins are big and pages are thick, so it’s a deceptively quick read.) But the resolution was alienating to me. The concluding subject matter that randomly appears at the end wasn’t particularly kid-friendly or even relevant to most kids (this is probably a spoiler, but also kind of the deal-breaker because it’s a kids book, but there is a past same-sex romantic relationship pivotal to the story, which led to both parties getting some major health issues that were especially prominent and scary in the 1990’s. It’s subtle and nothing terribly inappropriate for kids, but just an irrelevant issue for most). It’s loosely based on a true story, which I do appreciate, and it contains real social issues, which I also appreciate. But because it’s children’s fiction covering a complicated, sensitive adult issue, it lacked the depth to make me feel any feels. And if it doesn’t mean much to me as an adult, it probably won’t mean much to a kid either. It was really disappointing.
Also rereading the first Harry Potter book because I felt like doing some comfort reading.
Revisionist History. I already talked about this one, and the content is still great… but he did a 3-part mini-series within his 10-part series that has nothing to do with his overarching theme of “reinterpret[ing] something from the past: an event, a person, an idea. Something overlooked. Something misunderstood.” He randomly drops the history facade altogether and talks about very current issues with colleges and college enrollment. He doesn’t even try to make it go with the history theme. It’s still really good and interesting content, but it irks me a little. If you’re only devoting 10 episodes to a topic, you’ve got to stick to the topic! You might slip in one random episode, but to devote over a quarter of your total episodes to something off-topic? I get the feeling this 3-parter was what he originally pitched to his podcast people, and they said, “Nobody does a 3-part series; bulk it up. How about history instead? You like history, right Malcolm?” And he says, “Yes, but I keep my original idea.” And they say, “But how will you tie that into history?” And he says, “I won’t. I’m Malcolm Gladwell. I write best-selling books and give great TED Talks. I do whatever I want.” And they said, “Yes, sir.”
My deck situation. We have a fairly nice deck, but it’s not shaded, so it gets freaking hot in the evening. We don’t spend much time out there. But this summer we snagged a deck umbrella for a great deal at At Home (I want to say originally $40, on sale for $25) and pulled our camping chairs out of the shed, and now sometimes we actually go out there. A few weeks ago we found an outdoor dining table at the DI for $20 that was in pretty good shape. I took it apart, scrubbed it down, touched up some rusty parts with spray paint, and now it looks practically new. Unfortunately I left the glass tabletop on my lawn all day while things were unassembled, and it fried (steamed, more accurately) a perfect dead rectangle in my grass. It looks green near the roots, so hopefully it grows out in a week or two. Fingers crossed.