Monday, September 9, 2019


Book group discussion yesterday: Borderline by Mishell Baker. After many examples of books which begin fuzzily or confusingly, I liked the bright energetic opening of this one. (First sentence: "It was midmorning on a Monday when magic walked into my life wearing a beige Ann Taylor suit and sensible flats.") I was particularly impressed by the author's skill at conveying the counter-intuitive meaning of one word in a conversation here:
Maybe it was the aftermath of adrenaline, maybe it was a surge of contrition. But something made me blurt out, "Do you know anything about the Arcadia Project?"
After a moment of incomprehension, Dr. Davis's face suddenly hardened into an expression I'd never seen. "No," she said, like a snuffer on a candle. Not the no of ignorance, the no of don't even think about it.
The only cloud on the horizon at this point was my inability to figure out if the protagonist had two prosthetic legs or only one; the descriptions seemed contradictory. Other readers more attuned to this type of issue explained that one of her legs is amputated above the knee, the other below. This had not been made clear enough, at least where I could notice.

Our neuropsychologist was impressed as could be at the author's descriptions of a largely mentally disordered cast. (The book's title is the protagonist's personality disorder.) It was clear, sympathetic, and showing deep understanding of the nature of their mental processing. I couldn't judge this, but I certainly agreed that the personalities were clearly presented and understandable.

The problem I had with the book came on a different level. The protagonist is being hired by a covert agency which keeps tabs on the fairies who are the hidden muses of Hollywood. In other words, it's Men in Black. (They hire mentally disordered people apparently because, if they go off the reservation and reveal the secrets, nobody will believe them. This reminds me of Ford Prefect's story in The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy about the "teasers," but whatever.) There's the issue of, as in most stories where the viewpoint character has to learn about the supernatural in a hurry, most of the lessons are delivered as casual asides by other characters in the form of rules of behavior which operate with ironclad certainty - what in real life works this way? - and which have to be accepted without question. But I got past that. Our heroine is put to work searching for a fairy who's gone missing, and I started to have the problem I have with most mystery novels: I couldn't bring myself to care. I like the heroine, but I've never met this missing fairy on the page, I have no reason to care about him, and plunging in to the details of the case just doesn't seem very interesting. After this went on for a while, I began to hope this would wrap up real soon, and then I checked how far I was in the book on the e-reader. 35%. Nowhere near far enough. So that's when I quit reading.

Also on the agenda, the quite functional-looking office chair our hostess had set out on the driveway. Yes, we're not done with chairs around here. I could do with replacing my chair, and B. has been using a kitchen chair in her office since forever. A free chair? Well, why not? We had my hatchback. I got it in the back no trouble, and when we got home we wrestled it upstairs, and now it sits in B's office, waiting to be baptized by sleeping cats.

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