Dora Levy Mossanen’s book Harem was a disappointment, which is kind of odd because the writing was actually pretty good, especially for a first novel. The characters were well-drawn and the overall tone was engaging. However, for a book which purported to be a ‘seductive and intriguing journey’ from the Persian Jewish quarter to the seraglio, it just didn’t give much insight into the Persian culture or life in the harem. And darnit, that’s what I was looking for, little details like how a concubine is trained, hierarchy in the women’s quarters, that sort of thing. I guess I was hoping for something like Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha, and it wasn’t that at all. Oh, well.
Carl is lending me two TPBs today, Blankets by Craig Thompson (because he liked it) and Batman: Hongkong (because he disliked it, and wants someone to dislike it with). I’m lending him Hopeless Savages by Jen van Meter, which I adore because it’s a funny, utterly un-maudlin teenage love story which revolves around the children of a couple of world famous love stars. (The children are named Rat Bastard, Arsenal Savage, Twitch Strummer, and Skank Zero, which gives you an inkling of the book’s tone right there.) I suspect that the other reason I like Hopeless Savages is because I identify with Jen van Meter, who is a writer married to a much-better known and critically-acclaimed writer, Greg Rucka. Honey, I know how that goes…
In Hebraic myth (which is not always the same as Biblical lore), it was not just Noah and the passengers of his Ark who survived the Great Flood. Two creatures known as the Reem (a huge, possibly hippo-like mammal) and the Ziz (a gigantic bird) also endured; the Ziz by alighting on the roof of the Ark’s boathouse, and the Reem by resting its chin on the Ark’s deck. God spared these animals, it is said, because He intends to serve them at a Great Feast for the righteous on Judgment Day. Now that’s divine foresight.