Shakespeare’s Birthday


I am not sure that I have much more to write about this occasion, except that it remains one of my favorite events of the year. And for the second time, I was able to bring my very enthusiastic little one with him, still wearing her Thai outfit after visiting the wat Thai (Thai Buddhist temple) for their new year celebrations.

Bangkok Wakes To Rain


I am inclined to want to like novels and about Thailand. And it is a good novel. It is a multi-generational novel that skips back and forth in time and is a perfect example of contemporary ‘world fiction.’

But… it reminded me of Lahiri and Ondaatje and both of those writers do it better (Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost rambled and lost its way before rushing when it realized it needed to wrap things up, but such language on the way!).

Except for the science fictional parts taking place in a climate changed future. Reminded me to recommend a great novel of climate change, Thailand, and colonialism: The Windup Girl.

Night Sky With Exit Wounds


This was book and Vuong were very heavily hyped (if, like me, you exist in the world of regular poetry readers and consumers of poetry news) and my first reaction was, ‘wow.’

I still loved it upon a second reaction, but you can guess that it was not as much.

Perhaps the best poems set too high of a bar and going from great to merely very good was a disappointment (and not fair to Vuong’s work, but there it is).

The Engines Of God


I no longer remember where I heard about this book, but it stuck in my mind as something I should read if I got the chance.

I spoke to a fellow aficionado with very specific tastes. Among other features of his personality, he really only considers so-called hard science fiction to be genuine science fiction; the rest is just fantasy with space ships.

By those standards, The Engines of God is not science fiction, but it is closer and I recommended it to him.

It is a science fiction (by my lights) novel, but centered around discovery and investigation and despite having one action sequence with ‘blasters’ (here called pulsers), a sequence that is gritty, unnerving, and realistic in feel, it resolutely not an action book. There are alien ruins but the aliens are long gone.

The highest praise I can give is that it makes a semi-sentient, apocalyptic space cloud seem realistic and explainable.

Williamsburg & Yorktown


A lovely bookstore on the Yorktown riverfront. I bought a copy of Jefferson’s selected writings.

From the Yorktown Battlefield visitor’s center; according to tradition, the campaign table of General Lord Cornwallis.

The Yorktown Victory Monument

The rather martial foyer of the Governor’s Palace

I just enjoyed seeing a book edited by the notable leftist historians, Eric Foner, in a government building in the Age of Trump (not that Foner does not deserve his place; his multivolume history of Reconstruction is still the gold standard).

My continued dialogue with the idea of Jefferson

The Charlton Coffeehouse is my favorite stop in Colonial Williamsburg. When I asked about this (initially thinking that Mr. Mercer might have been engaging in some civil disobedience), the “player” turned out to be quite knowledgeable and told me about how Mercer was accosted and assaulted by an angry mob and then submitted this the next day; she also told me about another, similar incident involving a tax collector in Pennsylvania.

The coffeehouse

Outside the Governor’s Palace

Inside the Governor’s Palace

We visited Colonial Williamsburg and made a brief stop in Yorktown to visit the Yorktown Battlefield and to, ahem, check out a bookstore. I have continued to read (and feel conflicted) about Thomas Jefferson and was disappointed that the Raleigh Tavern wasn’t open, because it featured prominently in Jefferson’s life while studying in Williamsburg, including being where the Virginia House of Burgesses met after being officially dissolved by the Royal Governor.