I got really into the TV show American Chopper some years back. I don’t have any interest in motorcycles and I couldn’t care less about the family drama between the stars of that show. But I loved watching it. I loved watching genuinely skilled people create their visions.
I love watching master craftspeople at work.
There’s joy in witnessing that level of skill. This is why I love shows about carpentry, home renovation, car mods, tattooing. It’s one of the many reasons why I love music, dance, theater, and athletics. It doesn’t matter if any of these interest me personally, I’m fascinated watching people who love doing them. Any human endeavor which requires skill to do well, is worth witnessing.
Reading Nighttime Is My Time by Mary Higgins Clark reminds me of watching American Chopper. She crafts her stories. Her control of plot and pacing and structure, how she manipulates the reader to place suspicion on different characters at different times, her myriad misdirections, how she builds the tension. She shows her work and gives us a ring-side seat to her creative process.
I enjoy witnessing her craft.
That being said, Nighttime Is My Time isn’t a very good book. I listened to the audiobook and the narration by Jan Maxwell is excellent. But the book itself drove me a bit nuts.
This review was first published by Booklist on November 2, 2018.
Brake (Different Engines, 2007, with Neil Hook) is a scholar and authority on how science fiction can influence the course of science and define our popular perceptions. The short essays—none longer than half a dozen pages—collected here are grouped into four main themes: “Space,” “Time,” “Machine,” and “Monster.” Some essays fit more than one theme, but they give the work a useful structure. Each essay is a quick read, but none go into much depth. Anyone looking for a robust scholarly treatment of the subject might be disappointed. Brake takes a valuable historical view, citing several stories from the earliest days of the genre, dating back to the 1600s and earlier, as well as classic and modern movies. However, the examples he chooses seem somewhat random and lack modern literary selections. He examines the history of science from Galileo and Newton to Einstein and the atomic bomb and on to the invention of computers and the internet. The book comes across as almost a random selection of short works; nonetheless, it is insightful, fascinating, and an easy read.
It’s important to me to have my perspectives, assumptions, and biases challenged in healthy ways. I seek out opportunities to learn how other people experience and view the world. This is an ongoing process. I believe it makes me a better person, more kind and compassionate, makes me stronger.
It’s my passion for understanding human nature as fully as I can. It’s my passion for serving my community—all members and all needs. Building mutual understanding and respect is how you make the world a better place.
I’ve spent a lot of time recently reading books about race and privilege. I have several more books on my list to read. This is a list of titles which challenge my perspectives and open my eyes to aspects I hadn’t considered before. Here they are, via my current library account. *