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NZ8 April 9, 2013

Posted by newsthatstaysnews in Uncategorized.

Across the way from the coffeeshop where my friend’s flatmate works when she feels like it, in what might have been a clothes shop, we traded four dollars for a 2004 copy of The Year’s Best Nonrequired Reading.  There was a quick back and forth as to who should keep it.  I read a few stories, learned that it’s not a tale of misfortune that’s depressing to read, but one of lost hope.  Then, I played trump: I didn’t know that I could fit it in my luggage.  The same argument left ‘что делать’ behind.  I was curious what Lenin would have to say about the right to criticize party policy.  Bertrand Russell had been quite impressed with his strength of conviction, comparable only to William Gladstone, which may give all of us pause to wonder.  I’m afraid it was rather more parochial than I had hoped for, and made me wonder why the USSR had bothered to have the thing reprinted, much less in English.  Apparently criticism had been allowed by the German socialists who’d then also served in a government and thus given up being revolutionaries at all, as well as some chap named Bernstein whom I’ve never heard of, but whom he really, really didn’t like.  There was a good bit about criticism slowing progress, but only perhaps a very broad argument that a lot of people were both in favor of open criticism of the party and also averse to bloodshed, and therefore rather poor revolutionaries.

When I finally reached it after a brief detour through the gorgeous Auckland Public Library, the Auckland Airport was big and flashy. I don’t know what to say about an airport that has three bookshops in duty free.

One thing might be that I read fifty pages of The Colour of Magic, which is a sort of fantastical book about a tourist with poor language skills, a comfortable exchange rate and an enchanted, vicious and indestructible luggage.  There is a matter of fact acceptance of the ridiculous to be savored in this Discworld, but not for thirty five NZD in the departure terminal.

Another might be that I read the first two chapters of ‘The Hunger Games’ and was mildly impressed. Understated enough to make the protagonist feel real, focused enough that her emotional attachments felt genuine and drew me in. Kept herself from getting drawn into the wilderness/future history aspect of her work, kept it focused on what it felt like to be a young person in this world. I think this might be what Harry Potter feels like to those who quite liked it. As my friend’s partner said, it feels like the real fantasy in that novel is upper-class british boarding school, not the potions or wands.  Maybe I just relate more to having been a loner at that age, to the love of the wild, to a less melodramatic sense of not belonging.

At any rate, my allotted hours expired, and I boarded my flight.  There was a magnificent corned beaf, red cabbage and mashed potato diner, which I accompanied by lightly buttering half the corn on the cob in my backpack.  I offered, but my neighbors were more staid.  So, I finished it standing in line at US customs, just before tossing it away and answering ‘no sir, there are no fruits or vegetables in my bag.’



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