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Reading Wednesday

I finished The Most Classist Jolliest Term on Record by Angela Brazil, and have to say it is the worst thing I've ever read by her. I had thought the casual racism/colonialism was horrible, but a whole huge chunk of the book involved classist jabs at people who worked for a living. Samples: references to the slow-moving "agricultural mind," patronizing attitude from girls at the school towards the people who live in the village which was close to a colonial attitude - the people were useful as models if they were cute children or rustic-looking old people, their cottages were attractive things to paint, their children nuisances when they came out to watch the girls painting their homes. Students are warned against giving money to a poor family because the father is a drunk and it encourages "pauperism." Similarly, owner of antique shop's husband is alcoholic, student doesn't tip him for delivery because he'll just spend it at the pub.

It's set during WWI, which was my reason for reading it. Various of the girls have brothers, cousins, etc. away at war; they raise money for the Prince of Wales' fund and Belgian relief, but only one relative, a cousin, is mentioned as having been killed (euphemistic reference to the Roll of Honor). There are two Belgian refugees in the class, referred to but they don't do much except be Belgian when the plot calls for it (patriotic festival to raise money for war effort); also they are charming because they have French accents. Vintage ouches: the N word - the younger sister likes to draw "animals, n------..." - *wince*. Also, "hook-nosed...Hebrew" in reference to driving a sharp bargain and, later, "Eastern" in reference to bargaining as well. Lots of Imperial stereotypes at the patriotic festival, including Yellowface (brunettes with their eyebrows done to make their eyes look "slanted.") This is not the first Brazil I've read with racism, but it's the first that had a whole range of issues to choose from.

I also read Headed for Trouble by Suzanne Brockmann, which is out later this month. It's a compilation of short stories and character interviews related to her Troubleshooters series; I hadn't read any of the short stories before, that I could remember, though I have read all but the last book or so in the series. It's a book for completists; I don't think there's enough material for it to be worth the price unless you're already invested in the characters. But if you are, it's handy to have all the bits in the same place.

I am currently reading galleys for the end of April and the beginning of May, for preview articles. Also a galley that doesn't come out until the end of June but I couldn't stop myself because it's a book I would have bought anyway.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 3rd, 2013 02:49 pm (UTC)
I think Brazil's best two Wartime books are the ones at the beginning and end of it, The School by the Sea and Harum-Scarum Schoolgirl.

Apr. 3rd, 2013 03:32 pm (UTC)
I think I have the latter downloaded. Thanks!
Apr. 3rd, 2013 03:38 pm (UTC)
Wow, that sounds like the book I'm painfully slogging through now. For the first time ever, I'm using the Kindle app's highlight feature so I can keep track of all the painful stuff I'm seeing. Like this morning's gem: "If I was a Jap, I'd open my stomach with my breadknife." The women are all treated like children or in nonstop hysterics. I'm only a couple chapters in, so I don't know if I'm going to finish it. It's interesting to see what was acceptable back then (1914, in this case), but it's still grating.
Apr. 3rd, 2013 06:06 pm (UTC)
I thought about highlighting, but then I would have to look at it AGAIN, lol! It didn't help that this novel was even blander and more predictable than her usual.
Apr. 3rd, 2013 06:49 pm (UTC)
Haha yeah, there's that. I keep marking all the bad parts, and the pages end up being nothing but yellow. I'm only a couple chapters in and I already have more than enough for a post!

Unfortunately I'm having a hard time telling what the story is like. Whoever did the processing from the original book to the ebook did an AWFUL job. Literally one word in five has a mistake (end of the line in the original book issue), plus little of the punctuation is correct. Periods get translated into "o" (which makes for amusing misreading of words: "He climbed onto the shipo".), dialogue tags are randomly appearing as *, ^, ], or other symbols not on my keyboard. In addition to the end of original line issues, probably one in ten word has a typo or mistake in copying letters (sometimes an N becomes a /\/ or things like that). All the errors make it nearly impossible to get into the story at all.
Apr. 3rd, 2013 07:13 pm (UTC)
That sounds like pretty typical state of anything OCR'd by archive.org with no human intervention. (When it's a book of poetry, it gets even worse.)

Apr. 3rd, 2013 07:46 pm (UTC)
I believe that's where it came from, yeah. The first couple pages of the book were photographs of the original book pages; those were great, beautiful to see, paper brown with age, lightly marked with the pencil notes from various libraries. I wish the whole book had been done that way.
Apr. 3rd, 2013 09:47 pm (UTC)
Yup, that's archive.org's standard MO. I avoid those as much as possible, for ebook purposes. Their PDFs are beautiful, including full pages all the way through, but I have a small-screen ereader. (You can get those by going to their site directly and finding the book in question.)

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


oracne - Victoria Janssen

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