secret welfare poet (secondsilk) wrote,
secret welfare poet
secondsilk

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Five

Books

Naomi Novik Victory of Eagles
I read this because I thought that I hadn't finished it last time I read it. I have, actually but bits of it still seemed surprising. I'm not sure I paid quite as much attention to it as I should have when I first read it, because I was distracted by the appalling proofreading. Comma splices, missing words and possible attempts at fancy evocative prose that goes nowhere. The plot is good and the action tense. I find Temeraire's point of view a little wearying, I guess. He seems so good to himself. That definitely gets undermined a bit in this book. And it is difficult to get any sort of doubt about the rights of their position into a character who is socially disprivileged without undermining the entire protest against the system.

Tongues of Serpents
Australia! I was reticent to read this one because I was worried about how it treated Aboriginal Australia and Aboriginal Australians. But in the copy I borrowed from the  library, there is actually a map that notes the lands of some nations. That was definitely reassuring. A lot of my thoughts are about how little I knew about early colonial history in Australia. It is going to be a strange new history to not have Macquarie as Governor. Interesting, too, to think that Temeraire is probably still alive. Dragons live for a couple of hundred years.

Overall the structure of the novel in much like the others. Massive wandering set up for a brief intense bit of action that changes the history of the world. I like it. I liked the bunyips. Australia has very few cultivated native food plants and no domesticated native animals (as far as I am aware), so it is not surprising that Australia's native dragon population cannot be domesticated. It would be an extraordinary change in the situation of the colonisation of Australia if Aboriginal people had had dragons.

The things I like best about it, though, are all the bits about Roland.

Crucible of Gold
Reading a third book in a row did make the pattern of the plot more apparent. I think there is a lot of work in making clear the way foreign dragon/human relations work. I very much like the idea of the integrated societies of South American dragons and humans. Apparently there are only two more books after this, and there is, in retrospect, something of a turn towards a final ending. Also, canon queer character!

James Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me
This is a book about the misteaching of history in American high schools and the consequences thereof. It mostly looks at how the topics get covered and all the good (as in juicy topics) and interesting bits get left out. There is some really interesting stuff about social engagement and narrative. Mostly, for me, it is actually about US history. I'm sure anyone interested in US history who hasn't particularly studied it would find it interesting. I actually borrowed it when I borrowed it when I was reading Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting together in the Cafeteria? As a part of history, Loewen discusses how differences in class, opportunity and privilege become entrenched in society and how the position of (particularly) Black people in general US society has fluctuated, despite the history textbook narrative of continual, inevitable progress.

Films
Django Unchained
It is a Western, which I knew, I think but didn't totally appreciate until the opening credits. Given that my knowledge of Westerns extends only as far The Searchers, Unforgiven, the Ennio Moriconi Experience and Serenity, I can't comment on how the film comments on the genre. Jamie Foxx is great. None of the women get any characterisation AT ALL - okay, Brumhilde gets a little. I'm not sure that enjoy is a word that be ascribed to the experience, but I completely drawn in by the film and am glad that I saw it. I don't tend to look bad at films, so when I say I think it was excellent, I mean that I while I was watching it nothing tripped me up. Actually, the amount of blood in major shoot out, but that was because I forgot that it was a Quentin Tarantino film. I think if you have enjoyed (if that's the right word) his films (I've only seen Deathproof before) then you can watch this. Even if you haven't it might be well worth it, provided you can stand the blood. There is a lot of blood, and a lot of shooting, but the worst of the violence is off screen or doesn't happen. While the film reveals in blood, it does work to get you the point of relishing it as well. Nothing that happens seems superfluous. That mightn't seem like saying much, but so much of the Hobbit seemed superfluous, and I don't to give my time to a film that seems to waste it.

Asia Pacific Triennial, QAG GOMA, Brisbane
There is some great art in this exhibition. Little that is spectacular, although there is a Tiwi temple. A lot that is marvellous, including a flying carpet. Some great photography work, and a collective of wacky music video type pieces by an Indonesian art collective. It's a big exhibition. I particularly liked the Tiwi and Papa New Guinean stuff. Most of the video stuff was less gripping. I am not sure what extent this is art fatigue, given the amount of art I'd seen in the preceding five day, and to what it extent is the less worked, less contemporarily developed nature of some of the work. That said, some of the work is fantastic for the way it draws traditional methods and visual language into a contemporary art setting, offering commentary on and criticism of colonial practices and post-colonial developments.

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Tags: art!, books!, fandom: temeraire, films!
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