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March 17th, 2010

Work on one book, reviews of two others

My friend and coauthor Dan is visiting here in Rome; he is on a sabbatical from SUNY Stony Brook and we're using this time for a writing project that involves observing lots and lots of deep sky objects with a good amateur telescope... a follow-on to a certain book we wrote a few years ago. (A book that, if current projections from Cambridge Press hold up, will hit the 100,000 sales mark sometime in mid May. Of course the book has been in print since 1989, which helps the sales numbers!)

Right now, I am catching a few minutes at the computer before going back outside for more observing. Dan has been working fulltime on this project, and getting lots done; I am really impressed. He seems to be enjoying himself enormously. At the same time I am trying to get a few other bits of non-book work done, and slowly getting into the swing of the community here again. I just refereed a book for Arizona Press, and I have two papers with reviews due Real Soon Now.

Meanwhile, I am finally getting around to reading some of the many books I bought when I was in England last January. Right now I am halfway into a biography of Chesterton by William Oddie ("Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy") that concentrates on his years up to the time he wrote Orthodoxy. It's very good; he puts a lot of the culture of the fin-de-siecle in context that I guess I never really appreciated before. And as it covers much of the same time, and many of the same people, as were described in the Arthur Ransome biography ("The Last Englishman" by Roland Chambers) I just finished it is fun to see them all from different points of view.

The all knew each other, of course; it was a small world back then. (Much like SF fandom today, I suspect.) For example, it turns out that the woman that Chesterton married was the sister of Kipling's secretary... and Chesterton's first published work of note was a (very unfavorable) review of a book by one of Ransome's great friends and benefactors -- the grandfather of the kids that Ransome eventually put into his children's books. And, of course, as everyone knows, Ransome himself was married to Trotsky's personal secretary.

I suspect that neither book is available yet in the US.

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