This week’s newsletter was languishing in that Shrödingerian state of incompleteness (aka, if you don’t look at the page, it’s either done or not started), and so we went to the boss and asked for a suggestion to kick us off this week. She said, “*****,” which is why we’re going to talk about ghosts. 

In fact, we’re going to start with Chin Music Press’ Ghosts of Seattle Past, which is an anthology of writing about lost Seattle places. As editor Jaimee Garbacik talks about in the introduction, Seattle is changing so fast it’s not even sure who or what it is becoming, and by the time its residents figure it out, it’ll be on to something new. The downside of all that change is that the past is being paved over. It’s been torn down for sky-high buildings of glass and steel. It’s being upscaled, gentrified, and repriced out of your range. We run headlong into change because we’re running from something, and Garbacik and co. have put together a cautionary collection, reminding us of who we still are, under all the shiny and new. 

We really don’t need to be running all the time, you know. Sometimes it’s okay to slow down and read a book. Or talk to your neighbors. Or go try on a pair of fancy shoes or something. 

And speaking of fancy shoes, one of our other favorite books this week is The Complete Book of Fashion History, which takes us from ancient Egyptian afternoon-wear to the Top Ten Handbag and Shoes Styles You Need to Know. (And sure you can probably carry a Louis Vuitton Speedy 30 bag while wearing Jimmy Choo’s, but why not just make it easy on yourself and stick with a Alexander McQueen Skull Clutch and a pair of his infamous lobster claw pumps?)

And speaking of lobstrocities (Dark Tower reference, sorry; they’re going to creep into the newsletter between now and August 4th), Stephen King and Richard Chizmar have teamed up with Gwendy’s Button Box, a story set in Castle Rock, King’s old fictional stomping grounds, and as you can imagine, things seem perfectly 1974 Summer Time Fun in Castle Rock, but they aren’t. No sirree, things are going to get a little spooky in Castle Rock before the fourth or fifth chapter, because that’s what we expect from King and Chizmar, isn’t it? 

And speaking of meeting expectations, this week sees the release of No Middle Name, the collected short stories of Jack Reacher, Lee Child’s enduring everyman hero. These stories have mostly been available as ebook originals, but they’re all collected here in print for the first time, along with at least one new story. And, if you know Reacher, they’re all well-plotted and well-executed narratives about what happens when the rest of the world doesn’t believe Reacher when he says that he really is an immovable object. 

But enough of all that, let’s circle back around to “*****.” 

No, wait, hang on, let’s talk about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse first. We almost forgot about them. But Veronica Rossi hasn’t. Last year, she put out Riders, the story of a young man named Gideon who, after a freak accident (aren’t they all?), discovered that he was the personification of War, one of the four riders of Gilead—no, Rohan, no, wait, uh, one of those literary stand-ins. Anyway, Rossi is back with Seeker, which picks up after Riders and continues the story of Daryn, the one who can see the future and—wait for it—save us all. [Cue dramatic music.]

And speaking of facing the music, we note that Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature is booming up the charts again this week. Pinker, who has written a number of engrossing deconstructions of how humanity thinks and doesn’t think, takes on the nature of violence within our core identity and presents some rather fascinating talking points. Pinker starts with the controversial idea that we may be living in one of the most peaceful periods of human existence. Clearly, it may not feel like that this week, which may be why a lot of folks are looking to smack Pinker on the head with his book (which, yes, confuses the whole discussion even more, doesn’t it?). 

And so, let’s recap what we learned this week: books are out; you should visit us; ghosts are all over the place; history is real; and any day is made better with “*****.” 


JASPER: So, I drew a map. 

HORACE: Oh, by Hephestaeus's hairy toes, of course you did. 

JASPER: Don’t roll your eyes at me. How many times have we gotten lost because you didn’t want to read the map? 

HORACE: He can’t do anything without turning it into a design project. Everything—and I mean everything—takes eight times as long with him. 

JASPER: It’s not about efficiency; it’s about a well-designed and executed adventure. If I just wanted to go to the store and buy a bag of lemons, I’d send my nephew. 

HORACE: This isn’t about the lemons. Merciful apricots of Aphrodite! You can’t ever let something—

COLBY: Is this to scale?

JASPER: Is what to scale?

COLBY: This map.

JASPER: Of course it is, you scatterbrained squirrel. What sort of web behind the ears apprentice do I look like? 

COLBY: Okay, so it’s a house. It’s a big house. Is it a real place?

JASPER: Yes, it’s real! Why do you think we’re talking about it? Why do you think I drew up this map? 

COLBY: I don’t know. You two are the ones who are all excited about this project of yours. Based on this, I’d say you’re already done. 

JASPER: Done? We haven’t even started!

COLBY: Okay. Okay. So, this project—this writer named K—how is that related to this map. 

HORACE: He lives here, marmot. 

COLBY: In this house?

HORACE: This very one. In fact, he hasn’t left in fifteen years. Nor has anyone been inside during that time either. As far as we know. 

COLBY: Oh, so where did this map come from? 

JASPER: I drew it. 

COLBY: Based on what? 

JASPER: My recollections from the last time we were there. 

COLBY: Fifteen years ago.

JASPER: Yes, fifteen years ago. What does that matter? 

COLBY: Well, if I’m reading this legend correctly, this over here is a fern. Are you sure this fern is still there, fifteen years later? 

JASPER: Quite sure, you artless adumbrate. 

COLBY: Does he do this a lot?

HORACE: Do what?

COLBY: Belabor people with his vocabulary.

JASPER: Does my vocabulary intimidate you, you hapless herbivore? 

COLBY: Do you want me to do this thing for your or not?

JASPER: By all means. 

COLBY: And do you think I’m going to get more or less excited about doing it, based on your continual and contumelious clamor, of course? 

HORACE: Oh, Jasper. A well-read rodent. This is marvelous, don’t you think? 

JASPER: Shut up, Horace. 

COLBY: What’s it going to be, bipedal braggart? We going to keep with the thesaurus-off here or actually get something done? Because I’ve got some Oscar Wilde that’s much more literary and engaging that listening to you windbag about. 


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