BOOK & BLOG
August 29, 2011
Books of the Week:
Some weeks when my list of books is really short, I've read books that I couldn't in all honesty recommend to readers. Sometimes I've been reading books that aren't even close to publication yet, so reviewing them would simply be a waste of time.
This week I finished The Tempering of Men, sequel to A Companion to Wolves, an amazingly original book I reviewed some time ago. I'm a fan of Sarah Monette's and Elizabeth Bear's, and though the second book didn't quite live up to the first, it was quite good. Tempering (like Companion) is about men called to live with giant wolves; few are called, and fewer are chosen by the wolves as companions. These aren't ordinary wolves, but huge battle wolves, capable of packthink and considerable empathy. If you liked the first book, you'll want to read the second, and I don't think the action will disappoint you.
I know a lot of my readers are also fans of Mary Janice Davidson, and rightly so. Now that MJD has reached the tenth book in the Betsy series, Undead and Undermined, the narrative is shorter on the ebullient humor that made the first few Betsy entries so delightful. But Betsy is definitely becoming more self-aware, and her time travels will make her more so. This one is strictly for fans of the whole series.
TOWEL ANIMALS ATTACK!
My husband and I recently went on a trip to Alaska, which is one of the few untamed and absolutely beautiful states in the USA. Though I could rhapsodize about Alaska for paragraphs, it's actually another small observation I made during the trip that caught my interest.
Part of our tour was by ship, and I'm sure all of you have heard how relaxing a cruise is. The pampering the guest receives from the staff is well-known, and it's absolutely true that cruise ship personnel are polite, well trained, and very efficient. But here's what boggled my mind. The Holland America staff, like the Carnival staff on my previous cruise experience, made towel animals every night.
If you haven't observed these creatures, let me explain. Someone – some bizarre person – figures out how to make animal figures out of white hand towels. That person (for all I know, there's a book) instructs all the room stewards in this art. You might get an octopus, or a hippo, or a donkey, with a couple of black dots stuck to represent the eyes. These creations are left on your bed every evening by (we are meant to suppose) happy elves who live to do this kind of . . . handicraft.
My first question was, "Why?" Who supposes that this will add to my vacationing experience? How did this custom begin? Does anyone really look forward to a cruise because of this nightly custom?
Maybe the room stewards really enjoy this exercise in transitory towel manipulation. I pretty much doubt that.
I just don't get it. Cruise towel art will have to join the list of societal artifacts that just don't make sense to me, along with fanfic and sagging pants.
© 2011 Charlaine Harris