…get a new plan?

C: Daddy daddy daddy! Bebe nearly bit me.

J: Really? Why is that?

C: Because I was chasing her.

J: So what do you think we should do?

C: …get a new cat?

Claire seems to be phasing out her long afternoon nap, which is more than somewhat alarming, as the long afternoon nap is what’s kept us sane lo these many years. On the other hand, it’s ten to nine and both girls are in bed. A reliable earlier bedtime would be a heckuva tradeoff, in the non-ironic, pre-Katrina sense of heckuva.

I had a run of good books in La Paz. Sky Coyote instantly became my favourite Kage Baker, because while I find her time-travel series engrossing, her usual protagonist annoys me. Mendoza, alas, is a Mary Sue. Everyone loves her, for no discernable reason. However idiotically she behaves, she always turns out to be right. She’s just like Harry Potter. I want to slap them both.

Sky Coyote is narrated by the series equivalent of Hermoine Grainger, and since I’m a sardonic supporting character myself, I find Joseph’s point of view much more to my taste. The book also has a wonderful double structure. Joseph is infiltrating a Chumash village in the Ventana wilderness with the goal of rescuing its material culture and inhabitants from the arrival of the Europeans. At the same time, the immortal operatives of the Dr Zeus company are studying the motives of their mortal masters from the future. Time travel, of course, is just another species of colonialism, just as any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology. This was a good book to read on my first trip to Mexico.

So was Transmission, which is also deeply concerned with the interplay of economics and human migration, and very funny. To my delight and Jeremy’s it is set in what is recognizeably our California and tech industry; author Hari Kunzru did his homework, nails the Valley and thanks Danny in the acknowledgements. One sardonic supporting character shares many of her good qualities with Quinn. Next came Black Swan Green, a genuinely beautiful literary retelling of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole.

Right now I’m reading two books at once: Salome’s first edition of The Lathe of Heaven, with its accurately globally-warmed Mt Hood, and Quinn’s copy of The Years of Rice and Salt. It took me a while to get stuck into the latter but now I’m hooked on its clear-eyed unsentimentality, its inexorable tides of good fortune and tragedy. It’s not exactly escapist but it does help dispel some of my anxiety. The rest of it will not be dispelled. Bush is another Mary Sue. The USA has already lost the war in Iraq and this troop surge will only make matters worse.

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