Hi guys! I'm in the Frankfurt Airport, missing anekdot
in an embarrassing fashion! Now I will start crying into my fries in three ... two ... one ...
Moscow was great, though not as absurdly, overwroughtly gorgeous as St. Petersburg. Seriously though, St. Petersburg. Tone it down. No one needs EVERY street to be painted a myriad of ill-matching but shockingly attractive colors over a nineteenth-century facade. Surely EVERY subway station does not have to be arched. Perhaps not EVERY Soviet high-rise has to ... okay ... no ... those were just hideous. But they were
on stilts! And framed beautifully against the Gulf of Finland. HONESTLY.
Pretty much the only thing the Complete History of Soviet Russia As Told Through The Eyes of a Tetris Worker song got right, by the way, is that there is in fact a McDonald's in Red Square -- maybe there's a Levi's too, I did not in fact observe it. There's also a Starbucks and, uh, other American fast food restaurants whose names I did not observe (I think, like, Wendy's and TGIF?) and, oh, boy, a whole lot of other artifacts of cultural imperialism. That part is not great. You know what totally is
great, the Kremlin, omg. I guess I didn't really process that it was a medieval fortcity before it was The Fucking Kremlin? Also, the Hermitage. After we did finally go to the Hermitage on the last day of my visit we went back to Sares' host mom's apartment and watched Anastasia (in Russian) and um, it is so, so much funnier when you've been to St. Petersburg. So they're ... dancing in Isaakievsky ploshad ... but then Dmitri is roof-surfing from the Hermitage ... and also you can't see St. Isaac's even though it is like, three times the size of anything else in the city. Also, the Hermitage is totally uninhabited and there's no pesky art museum or series of provisional governments or anything. And Nevsky prospekt has apparently already been through the Siege?
I'm reading Anna Karenina, on a related note. I'm five hundred pages into it. I -- um -- okay, I'm going to leave my poorly-educated literary opinions on it for another post. But I invite yours in comments! I obviously do not care about spoilers.
I am reading/watching other things I'm humiliatingly willing to talk about, though. I should probably follow the skygiants
method and leave it to one effusion of text per post, so, the one that's been cutting my heart out and leaving it for the wolves: MEGAN. WHALEN. TURNER. I'd protest that no one told me about the Queen of Attolia series, but actually, everyone
, starting with my father in middle school and everyone else I have ever met, has told me about the Queen of Attolia series. And I didn't listen! Because I'm a fool of the highest order!!( brief spoilers, but in an all-caps, charming way )
My love for these books is uncritical and total. It has been so long since I've loved a book this way that I basically forgot it was possible*; the first time I read the Thief, in actual fact, I hated it, because I felt betrayed by the unreliable narrator and also, I was an asshole at thirteen, I think? But I could not possibly love it more now, except, if it was the Queen of Attolia. By that I mean both the book, and the character.
Why read the Attolia series? Because the hero gets PTSD and then the book devotes a good quarter of its page length dealing with it. ( milder romantic-plot spoilers )
Because the politics are painfully realistic (if you are reading Captive Prince? This is the actual, smart
het equivalent). Because while being a story about royalty and thrones it isn't about how kings are the best solution and everything is awesome. Because it's about the Byzantine conquest. Because every character is allowed to be deeply fucked up without it proving that they're horrible people.
I guess if I had a critique it might be that the hero of the books is yet another proof that what I really ought to be doing is reading Dorothy Dunnett; by the end of A Conspiracy Of Thrones, I think Turner may be succumbing a bit to "he is good at everything! everyone good loves him! everyone bad wishes they were him!" syndrome. But the truth is I don't begrudge her this, because by the fourth book I am so in love with him myself.
* I have the vague memory that I've said this very recently about another book I read, recently. Possibly Pamela Dean. If I did, I was lying, without even knowing it.