Well endowed with fiction


in Books and literature, Daily updates

Canal near Magdalen College

With the completion of the exam, I find that my way of thinking about things quite unrelated to it has changed rather a lot. A kind of generalized urgency that had been prevalent before has softened a bit, leaving me more willing to take things as they come. I used my book token from one of the brain scan experiments to buy two books this afternoon: Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I hope to get a good start on both over the weekend, as well as finishing my re-reading of Dune and The Skeptical Environmentalist. Reading fiction is one of the best things about times not yet endangered by papers and exams; of course, I’ve not been known to cease completely even during such times.

Our respite from schoolwork is not destined to be long-lived. Lectures resume on Monday and on Tuesday, we have our first core seminar discussion for the history from 1950 to present segment. I am told it’s on nuclear deterrence: an especially appropriate topic given the ongoing kerfuffle about Iran.

PS. Those who have not yet seen it should check out my brother Mica’s White Rabbit video. You can leave comments about it on his blog.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

V.A.K April 22, 2006 at 7:29 am

I’ve read both books. “the curious incident of the dog in the night time” is a good book -very funny- but the ending is somewhat saccharine. “On the road” reminds me of Jonathan. You seem to enjoy Nabokov. Have you read “Ada, or ardor”? I highly recommend it.

Milan April 22, 2006 at 9:40 am


I haven’t read Ada, or ardor, but I’ve added it to my discretionary reading list.

I hope life is treating you well.

V.A.K April 23, 2006 at 8:14 am

All is good, here on the west coast. I’ve started working on my honours thesis, and am currently volunteering at a medium security prison in Abbotsford. I am also compiling my own summer reading list. Do you have any recommendations? Sorry to hear about Chevening, I’m sure you will find a way to rectify the problem. The weather was lovely today -it reminds me of the first few paragraph’s in Woolf’s ‘Mrs. Dalloway’.
“And then, thought Clarissa Dalloway, what a morning -fresh as if issued to children on a beach.
What a lark! What a plunge!…How fresh, how calm…the air was in the early morning; like the flap of a wave; chill and sharp…” (Woolf, 1925).

Milan April 23, 2006 at 1:27 pm


How long is your thesis to be, and when is it due? We have a 6000 word methodology paper due in about six weeks, with the full 30,000 word thesis due about this time next year. I hope your research goes well, along with this volunteer work.

As for book recommendations, are you looking for something fictional and engaging, or more informative? Most of what I’ve been reading this year has been about 20th century history or IR theory.

V.A.K April 23, 2006 at 5:16 pm

The length of my thesis is 50 pages (double spaced)and is due in March 2007. My supervisor has told me to make two versions; the 50 page thesis to be submitted in completion of the program, and a shorter version (one which excludes most of the literature review) which is to be submitted to peer-reviewed journals for publication (if accepted, of course). I am going to be conducting in-depth interviews with S&M sex workers and asking them about their perceptions of power dynamics within the context of the sex worker/client relationship.
As for books, I am interested in reading some fiction. I remember that short story you had me read by Orson Scott Card. You have good taste.

Milan April 23, 2006 at 5:38 pm


Thinking back over the fiction I’ve read recently, there isn’t anything that leaps to mind as superb. I enjoyed the intrigue in An Instance of the Fingerpost, which is a kind of complex mystery story set in medieval Oxford. I definitely enjoyed sections of Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but it held together better as a series of vignettes than as a coherent whole.

Books that I haven’t read recently but unambiguously recommend include Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh, Pullman’s The Golden Compass (sometimes called Northern Lights), Hazzard’s The Great Fire, and classics like The Great Gatsby and Anna Karenina.

Your thesis topic sounds like quite a bold one, especially in terms of the kind of direct research it seems likely to involve. I hope it proves satisfying for you. Who is your supervisor?

V.A.K April 25, 2006 at 2:31 am

John Lowman, BA (Sheff), MA (York), PhD (Br Col), Professor
Critical criminology; prostitution; prostitution law; sociology of punishment; research confidentiality.

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