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This week's StarShipSofa includes the second installment of my three-part "History of the Genre" special about reading Harry Potter in a Native American context. If you listen, I hope you enjoy!
Part 1 is here on Episode 340
Part 2 is here on Episode 345
A complete list of links for my podcasting work to date is available here.

In other news, I have a newsprint manicure and a book, and I took a photo of them. So there.

A good book and a good manicure


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 14th, 2014 11:19 am (UTC)
Newsprint nails! I have a friend who will go nuts for those.

Aw, thanks! They're ridiculously easy to do.

I'll be interested to hear what you thought of the book once you've read it. I listened to it as an audiobook a few years back.

Oooh, I'd be interested to hear what you thought, too! The author is going to be a writer in residence for LRU in the spring semester (and the university's drama group will be performing The Crucible as a tie-in), and so I wanted to go ahead and read this. Here is the review I ended up posting at Goodreads (where I gave the novel 3 of 5 stars):

During her oral exams for Ph.D. candidacy at Harvard, Connie's advisor asks her the following about her understanding of the colonial American witch trials: "Have you not considered the distinct possibility that the accused were simply guilty of witchcraft?" Here lies the major premise of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane.

No, Connie hadn't considered this possibility, and she doesn't take it seriously when Professor Chilton raises it. After passing her orals, Connie divides her summer between clearing out her grandmother's decrepit home in preparation for selling the place and trying to find an avenue of research for her dissertation proposal. Both endeavors meet when she realizes she may have a lead on a previously unmined primary source: a "recipe" book owned by one of the forgotten prosecuted "witches" from the Salem witch trials. Most of the novel follows Connie's search in 1991, but this narrative is broken up and complemented by extended interludes set during the colonial witch trials.

Howe's strength rests in description. Her portraits of colonial and contemporary Massachusetts bring the settings to life and make them central characters in her story. The fact that Howe herself is the descendant of Elizabeth Proctor (who survived the Salem witch trials) and Elizabeth Howe (who did not) also adds depth and texture to this intergenerational tale.

As a Ph.D. in American history myself, I found much of Connie's experience as a graduate student to be familiar. The time frame for her research is wildly condensed from "real life," but Howe offers an explanation for Connie's advisor's crazed expectations. More than a few times I thought that writing this novel must have offered cathartic moments in exorcising Howe's own graduate school experience.

That said, Connie seems a naive, clueless, and inexperienced in her chosen field of study and even basic research methods, and I wasn't quite sure how she'd made it to candidacy at all. A third of the way into the novel I guessed exactly how the rest of the story would unfold, and I ended up being right on every count. This book therefore fails as a procedural story or a mystery. Its enjoyment lies in its sense of mood and atmosphere, as well as the strong connections it underscores between the past and the present, place and memory, history and identity.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 17th, 2014 08:35 pm (UTC)
Yes, yes!!! I agree with all of this.

I would really have enjoyed a lot more historical bits, especially if they could be more gritty.

That's a perfect description of my reaction, too.

Howe fingers Chilton very, very early in the story

She does. More than once I wondered if it was reading it through my own graduate experience too much (of course the baddie is the advisor! LOL), but no, if it walks like a villain and talks like a villain... it's the villain.

And LOL, you're not the first grad student to comment on the reality of Connie's Ph.D. experience.

Oh man, that luncheon at the Faculty Club under the watchful eyes of impeccably mannered and quietly pitying butler waiter was excruciatingly familiar. I lived that very lunch, LOL.
Jul. 14th, 2014 08:03 pm (UTC)
I love your nails :-)
Jul. 17th, 2014 08:37 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks very much! :D It's freakishly easy to do, thank goodness. I think I may make this my "go to" manicure for the foreseeable future.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )