Friday, July 28, 2006

Off the grid

Who uses it: Survivalists
What it means: Living in an area that does not receive electrical power from a utility company; more broadly, living outside the legal and civic infrastructure.
How you can use it: Move about 50 miles north of me.

It's another very hot day, and Dizzy and I saw utility workers in a cherry picker at a transformer box first thing this morning. I am sitting in front of a window fan set to "high," in shorts and a t-shirt, and if we lose power, I'm driving up to the Bragdons' and spending the rest of the day at the lake. The temperature's supposed to hit 90, and we are not equipped for that here in Maine.

Happy birthday to my cousin Sheila Cameron -- send her birthday wishes on the Free Katie message board, where the fun (and the horror) never stops.

My big project this week was a comprehensive manuscript edit, and that always interferes with my ability to read published books. It's like looking at a mansion and only seeing the brickwork; I get too analytical, and can't lose myself in the narrative flow.

The three books I did read all took some big risks, which I always admire.

What I Read This Week

Adam Fawer, Improbable. This thriller of ideas is a very impressive first novel. David Caine is a mathematician and compulsive gambler who is losing his academic career to uncontrollable epilepsy. In debt to Russian mobsters and desperate for relief, he agrees to participate in the testing of a new drug -- which seems give him a window into the collective unconscious, in which an infinite number of parallel selves live out an infinite number of possible choices, all resolving into this universe, this world, this time. I've said before that this is my own favorite daydream, and Fawer uses it to terrific effect here. If he decides to write a sequel, Caine could be a superhero for our time.

Julia Spencer-Fleming, All Mortal Flesh. The author (and her husband) sent me an advance copy of this book, which comes out in October. Julia's last book, To Darkness and to Death, left her main characters -- Episcopalian priest Clare Ferguson and small-town police chief Russ Van Alstyne -- on the brink of ruining their own lives and each other's. Things get much worse for them in All Mortal Flesh, which was inevitable -- but to say more than that would give away too many of the shocks in this book, which start in the first chapter and continue to the very last page.

Duane Swierczynski, The Blonde. A man meets a beautiful woman in a hotel bar. She flirts with him, then tells him that she's poisoned his drink -- and that she herself will die unless he stays within 10 feet of her at all times. The story zooms from there, as Jack Eisley tries to save himself without killing The Blonde, and a hitman from the Department of Homeland Security hunts them both. Original, recklessly paced, and great fun. Strap in and enjoy the ride.

1 comment:

Michael Wicinski said...

I would love to try living off the grid. It's just the whole, "take this, utility companies!" And it's a bit more environmentally safe. Way cool. Except not today for you, it sounds.

To be able to plow thru 3 books in a week! Ah! What fun that must be. I am of the slow of reading set. Takes me awhile to plow through any book. I dig on Stephen King though. Check out his latest, "Cell" if you haven't already. I think it's his best in a long while. Damn! You're probably neighbors with him! I'll never get published now!

Found you by clicking "Next Blog." Definitely a site I'll check out again. Seems I've only scratched the surface here. Hey, hope it cools off for you up there soon!