The good news is, my to-read pile is dropping precipitously. I guess we start our in-depth examination of communist China and Russia next, and the pile of books on spycraft. Also, I have a bunch of fiction I want to get to (Gibson, Silva, Aiken, Kessel, Atkinson, Kay, Hambly, Leonard) and a biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Ed Sanders' Tales of Beatnik Glory. And Koestler's The Sleepwalkers, although I'm reasonably certain it's going to piss me off with regard to Tyge and Sophie.
Speaking of which, Lawlor's Voices of the First Day--the book on Dreamtime/Aboriginal thought and society I tried to read today--pissed me off. It was, unfortunately, apparently written by some idiot with an agenda to press--said agenda being very New Agey and Noble Savagey and generally smarmy in that pure, back-to-nature, condescendingly worshipful sort of way that really bad caricatures of North America's tribal peoples tend to be. Who knew the Aborigines had to put up with this shit, too?
A stereotype, even a positive stereotype, is not a person/culture. I've walked a long way from my anthropological training, but I remember enough of it to carry a bone-deep feeling that respect lies in understandng, not idealization.
Also, his logic was sloppy as hell, and he kept contradicting his own arguments.
The Chatwin book was a hell of a lot better, for all it presented itself as not much more than a travelogue.
Ah well, it's all just for background information anyway.
So now I read The Search For Modern China, by Jonathan D. Spence.
This may take a while.