Wednesday writing wire - book blab edition

What I'm reading

I finished listening to The Iraq War by John Keegan. Despite the title, a large part of the book focuses on history, starting after World War 1 with the fall of the Ottoman empire and the imposition of Iraq's modern borders. The author touches upon the history of Islam, the Sunni/Shia schism and the differences between Islamic and Western thought (which Westerners often have trouble understanding), and the ethnic and religious demographics of the country and their political implications. He gives an in-depth look at the rise to power of Saddam Hussein, as well as the Iran-Iraq war and Gulf War 1. He also discusses British politics during the run-up to the war, and the struggles of Tony Blair to get Britain on board, given the anti-war mood in Europe at the time. The second part of the book deals with the invasion of Iraq by US-organized coalition forces in 2003, as well as a bit of the reconstruction aftermath. 

This book was a good read; the author's super pro-war stance bugged me, however. The U.S. and British leadership is lauded, while the European anti-war contingent is vilified for its wussy "Olympianism". The issue of WMDs gets skirted around and the book (which came out in 2004) ends on a note of, "Hey, the war lasted like 30 days and not many people got killed, so that right there is proof that it was the right thing to do." Well, the insurgency started not long after that, U.S. troops were there until 2011, and the violence continues to this day. So I wonder what the author would say now about how awesome the war really was.

I just started a new audio book; 1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History by Charles Bracelen Flood. I'm digging it so far. It's a whole book about Lincoln's doings in 1864 so it gets pretty in-depth with the Civil War & the politics. There are also tons of anecdotes about his interactions with people from all walks of life. Imagine if any old regular Joe could just walk in and talk to the President of the United States, well they could back then.

I read Playback which is the last Raymond Chandler novel. It's short and didn't take me long. I'd say I got a reasonable amount of enjoyment out of reading it, but compared to his other works it was disappointing. Boy, am I spoiled ;)

Oh--forgot to mention a couple of posts ago that I finally read Ender's Game, a book that I should have read a long time ago but kept blowing it off because it was "about a kid" and I didn't think I'd get into it. Well, possibly because I went in thinking I wasn't going to like it, I wound up liking it a lot more than I thought I would. Sure, the kids all act like little adults, but I found the big ideas and all the psychological manipulation stuff quite interesting. Looking at reviews, it seems there are two camps: those who super love the book and then the total haters. I don't fall into either camp; I found it a decent read and I can see why it's considered a modern SF classic, but it wasn't totally my cup of tea either.

What I'm writing

Work continues unabated on the neverending novel. This week, I've managed to free my main character's brother from a detention facility. He was unstable before, and after his experience in detention, he is certifiably off his rocker--which is kind of a fun challenge to write. 

I got some good feedback about my silly talking cat story, so at some point I'll have to break off and work on that.

I apparently find it easier to blab voluminously about books I've read than to talk about how my writing is going. I suppose it's because I feel I should save most of my "writing breath" for actual writing, and not shoot my wad on writing about writing. I'm not telling anybody else what to do, this is just how it works for me. 



What else I've been doing

On Friday I did my longest ruck yet with a 35-pound pack: 14 miles. It started to get a little tiring around mile 12 but after finishing up (in about about 3-1/2 hours), I found that it didn't feel like a big deal. I knew I could have picked up the pack and done it one more time (but I was glad I didn't have to on that particular day!) Anyway, I feel confident about doing 26.2 miles in a couple more weeks--and hey, it's not like I have to do the entire thing without taking my pack off my back :) I estimate I (and my friend/coworker who's going with me) will be walking for 8 hours or so, as there will be hills, sand, uneven ground, all the stuff I don't have in the city.

What's inspiring me right now

I dunno... I got nuthin. It's late and I have to post this, otherwise it won't be Wednesday anymore and I'll have to think of some other cute title, only with three T's in it.