Dream diary, 8/11/05: Deli Meat Slicer

I dreamed that Ingrid and I had been given a deli meat slicer (the kind with a rotary blade, similar to one we had when I was a kid) for a wedding present. It was a little fiddly and we were having trouble figuring out how to use it, but it seeemed very, very important that we do so. For reasons that weren’t clear even in the dream, it seemed as if many of our problems with organizing the wedding, and indeed many of our larger problems in our life, and even many of the world’s problems, would be solved if we could figure out how to use the deli meat slicer.

Reading diary, 8/5/05: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

It’s fine. It’s, you know, a Harry Potter book. Either you’re into them or you aren’t. If you are, you’re going to read it no matter what; if you aren’t, you probably aren’t going to start with the sixth book in the series.

Let’s see. I did like this one rather better than the last couple: it’s a lot tighter, and it’s less relentlessly grim (except for the ending, which is, like, totally a bummer — seriously, I was more upset about it than I’d expected to be). It does still have many of the weaknesses of the rest of the series: overheard conversations, talking killers, awkward expositions, a general need for an editor with a firmer hand. It also has a certain amount of deus ex machina, especially in the romantic relationships, some of which seem to come out of left field.

But so what.

To call it a page-turner would be a gross understatement; by the end of the book, I was reading it almost frantically, to find out what would happen next. It’s just a really good, compelling story, despite its flaws, and it’s a really rich, dense, complicated fantasy world, despite its inconsistencies. It’s also one of the few pieces of children’s literature I can think of that explores moral complexity in a serious way. (If anyone can think of counter-examples. please speak up.) And I love, love, love the political digs, especially in the last few books.

I think the Harry Potter books are very, very good children’s literature (overall, I give the series a B+). Whether it’s great children’s literature, I’m not so sure. I kind of think we have to wait 100 years and see if people are still reading it to find out.

Books I’m currently still in the middle of:

“Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond
“The Forbidden Zone” by Michael Lesy
“Will The Circle Be Unbroken?” by Studs Terkel
“Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius
“The Onion Ad Nauseum: Complete Archives Volume 14″ by the staff of The Onion
“Zounds! A Browser’s Dictionary of Interjections” by Mark Dunn
“Essays” by Michel de Montaigne
“Seeing Through Tears: Crying and Attachment” by Judith Kay Nelson