Friday, April 4, 2014

Inferno - Dan Brown

So, I read Inferno a thousand weeks ago and made a bunch of disconnected notes and swore I'd shape them into a cohesive post with gifs and whatall, but that's clearly not happened so I'm just going to pick a bunch of random gifs from my folder (what, like you don't have one) and then post them every third paragraph break, aptness be damned.


Dan Browns are readable because, despite the occasional 'machiolated' thrown in to impress, they are mostly small words and simple concepts: chase, shoot, betray, suddenly remember an important piece of information that solves the riddle and ends the chapter.

The prologue is in second person present tense, so brace yourself for that.

And there are some really weird misused words and random descriptors, like 'soft marble treads.' Marble is a hard thing, DB. Or there's a 'makeshift cafe' in a palace in Venice and I doubt it. I mean, here's this enormous long-standing edifice but we're just going to erect a temporary structure over here in case this espresso thing doesn't take off. Or the bad guy's video message in its 'arcane' language, which is totally in Modern English: Not Even Big Words Or Anything. Or his Obligatory Huntress Who Is Hunting Langdon Down, Obligatorily, who 'effortlessly' gets off her motorcycle, like that's so hard, and later 'moved effortlessly' down the hall SHE IS FUCKING WALKING. Words mean things, you can't just be like, Adverb goes here.

Someone needs to read this this with a cool, dispassionate, editorial eye, one that isn't so caught up in how AWESOME HIS SYMBOLISM IS, RIGHT? who will notice that, for Langdon to 'feel blood dripping down his forearm and pooling in his palm,' he has to be holding his arm really weirdly. Like, downward, but then also his hand is cupped for no reason. Or that, if it takes two people to replace a wooden beam barricading the door, a fat man having a heart attack probably could not have removed it on his own. Or: 'Ferris had rented the entire cabin using his credit card, along with an assortment of sandwiches and mineral water.' Alls I know is, the last time I tried to rent anything with a sandwich I got laughed out on my ass.

Speaking of the Huntress, her 'close-cropped hair, styled into spikes, stood out against the upturned collar of her black leather riding suit.' I get that he's going for economy, trying to squeeze several descriptors into one sentence and thinking he's pulling it off, but either that is one hell of high collar or 'close-cropped' means something more like 'nearly-shoulder-length.'

Dr Brooks, Resident Love Interest, is that beautiful-though-makeup-free, slender-yet-strong perfect unicorn that only exists in lazy fiction, with a complexion 'unusually smooth' and eyes 'unusually penetrating,' and DB is always trying to emphasize how brilliant and masterful she is. When the Huntress comes a-hunting in the hospital, she hauls Langdon out of bed and into the bathroom, runs back for his coat, locks them in the bathroom together, and then 'The young doctor took control.' SHE HAS LITERALLY  BEEN DOING ALL THE THINGS, you either should have said this earlier, or just trusted us to see her doing stuff without having to be like, Sienna! So young, so competent. ADMIRE HER.

She is also almost never described without her ponytail being mentioned. Langdon recognizes a photo of her at the age of five because of her 'blond hair in a familiar ponytail.' Oh Sienna, the only blond ever to wear a ponytail. I could almost let this go, because it turns out later that she's actually bald because reasons but another Important Lady Character is also never described without her silver hair being mentioned (as well as, at least half the time, her fantastic beauty DESPITE HER EXTREME AGE OF, LIKE, SIXTY OR SOMETHING OMG LOOK AT THE ATTRACTIVE OLDER WOMAN). It's like DB doesn't trust us to remember a character unless they have a physical descriptor attached to them at all times. It's basically the opposite of Game of Thrones' half a thousand middle-aged white bearded men.

(Total tiny nitpick on the subject of the silver-haired beauty: at one point she runs 'a quick brush through her long silver ringlets' and let's be clear: these are ringlets

and if that is your hair, you do not run a quick brush through it. You comb it with your fingers, maybe a wide-toothed comb. You brush that out, you will end up with a pile of sweet 80s scrub hair. Trust.)

Also, at one point Langdon borrows Sienna's neighbor's suit, his Brioni suit, and the suit is literally never mentioned without the brand name attached. She grabbed the lapels of his Brioni suit, a six-foot man in a Brioni suit, Professor Langdon, I hardly recognized you in that Brioni suit! (These are paraphrased, but not invented, examples.)

And DB wants you to admire Sienna so much. Young! Tortured! Genius! So when the Huntress comes again, Sienna 'knew' she was 'going to fire...sensing the woman's body language.' You knew, Sienna? You sensed her body language? Was it when she pulled out the gun, or when she brandished it, that you sensed she might fire?

SPOILER: The Huntress was actually trying to prove to Langdon that he'd been fooled, and that she was just shooting blanks, but instead of being like, I'VE BEEN SHOOTING BLANKS she decides to  be like, 'This will only hurt for an instant' and then shoot him with a blank, because that will Prove Something. Obviously Sienna totally murders her before she can get a fake shot off. Stop being so deliberately cryptic, people, it's very easy to misconstrue.

Ok but then (going back to Sienna: Child Genius), they find a death mask and Langdon spends like two pages being all, And the back of the mask is a different texture and color than the front! And Sienna is like, You think the bad guy covered the back with something? And then several paragraphs later, in which they discuss at length the hows and whys and composition of the something (gesso) the back of the mask is covered with, Langdon 'could sense the wheels turning' in Sienna's head, and suddenly she's like, 'You think there's something under the gesso?' NO SIENNA I THINK THE BAD GUY COVERED THE COMPLETELY BLANK BACK WITH GESSO JUST FOR, LIKE, THE SHEER DELIGHT OF ARTISTRY.

Palm ALL the faces. Also, semi-apt gif that time.

And on the one hand, it's dramatically compelling. People are constantly being shot at or turning out to be spies or getting amnesia or whatever. But then DB figures you need some background information, so he has someone (usually Langdon) remember an event (usually in Real Time, so while you [the reader] are watching him lecture on Dante, Sierra [or whoever] is like, Langdon? Hello? *snap, snap* as though he can't just remember facts he knows like he's an expert on the subject or anything, he has to replay a whole lecture in his head until he gets to the pertinent point. It's a weird and unlikely narrative choice) and then you get some Important Clues. You'd think all that would disrupt the narrative flow, only you aren't really thinking by this point.

Because you don't have to. Because no one can drop a name or a concept or a work of art without someone else immediately doing a quick internet search SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO ENNNNNNEHTHING.

This might sound like a complaint, but there are SO, SO many descriptions of arts. SO MANY ARTS. And I'm actually really into it, because while I'm not always down with eyeballing a bunch of paintings, I like to be told about them. And at one point he's describing a palazzo and all the statues, David and Hercules and such like, which 'bring to more than a dozen the total number of exposed penises that greet visitors to the palazzo.' Easily my favorite line in this whole novel.

Ooh, my second favorite moment is at the end when Langdon is finding out how much of the whole thing was a scam and who was in on it and he hollers at this guy who he thinks shot at him that morning and the guy is like, If I had wanted to hit the base of your spine, I would have hit it. I was trying to hit your tire. Because a spine is way easier to hit than a tire. Which, I perhaps neglected to mention, the guy also did not hit.

Straight-up, Dan Brown wants to be Robert Langdon. RL is his Mary Sue. So handsome! So tall! (Stop talking about how tall he is, he is six feet. That is the tallish side of normal-heighted.) So familiar with Italy and its lesser-known attractions ('Blah blah tourists love this one but Langdon's favorite piazza in Florence was always this quieter, more subtly beautiful one over here. Langdon's favorite walk, Langdon's favorite way of getting around, Langdon "smelled the distinctively sweet aroma of the local delicacy seppie al nero - squid in its own ink" as they raced down a canal towards their fleeing quarry. Totally irrelevant, but shows off his intimate knowledge of Venice, so Worth It.')

THAT IS THE END OF THE NOVEL AND ALSO THIS 'REVIEW.' I can't rate it because I don't even know which way is up at this point.

Yes, exactly.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mind of Winter - Laura Kasischke


I remembered liking The Raising more than my blog post suggests I did (this is why I HAVE you, blog), so I totally requested Mind of Winter and it was AMAZING BUT ALSO HORRIFYING. I mean, most of it is just deeeeeply unsettling and claustrophobic with moments of What Is Going On, and builds to dramatics at the end and KAPOW.

So. Holly wakes up all, Something followed us home from Russia. And I'm like, WAS IT A GREMLIN? WAS IT ON THE WING OF YOUR PLANE?

OR A COLONIAL WOMAN? I found a gif of the actual Twilight Zone scene but it terrified me too much and I'm in a fragile state already.

But then Holly rolls out of bed and it's Christmas morning and she's overslept and her husband has to tear off to the airport to get his parents and her teenage daughter is being really teenagery about not getting to open presents, and also what they're having for dinner, and also setting the table, and you know teenagers. EVERYTHING.

And you're like, Oh. This is all pretty mundane, I guess it's not that kind of story. But then there's a blizzard and people start calling to cancel Christmas dinner and Holly's stuck at home with her daughter who occasionally acts less teenagery and more SUPER FUCKING WEIRD and the snow keeps falling and Holly keeps getting phone calls from an Unavailable number and all these little things keep adding up to a sense of unease.


In the midst of all of which, Holly reflects on the Christmas day thirteen years prior when they landed in Siberia to visit the orphanage from which they would be adopting their (now teenage) daughter, and it's all very sweet reminiscences on her enormous love for this tiny, huge-eyed Russian toddler, and unfortunate reflections on the conditions of the Siberian orphanage, and a verrrrrry little something seems wrong but you don't know what. WHY AM I SO UNCOMFORTABLE.

So. Extremely well done. This book goes in the freezer now.

Eight and a half caterpillars.

Requisite ass-covering: book received from publisher.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bleak House readalong: THE GRAND FINALE

I totally read this last Monday night, after I scheduled last week's post. WHAT A PAGE-TURNER, YOU GUYS? I feel like that sounds facetious, but I barely breathed through the entire scene where Esther is chasing Lady Dedlock.

(Although Bucket's repeated 'You trust that I got a motive?' made me punchy. I GET what you are doing, dramatic tension-wise, Dickens, it's just that it's douchey and obvious and there's literally no reason for Bucket not to tell Esther what he suspects, because she's already in distress over the thought of leaving her mother, and if the lady ends up not being her, she's no worse off.)

(Also, I sort of figured LD would be dead because Rules of Victorian Literature dictate that if you have sex out of wedlock, you die. Because justice, amirite? Ugh, I am so embarrassed by you sometimes, 19th century.)

'A person of the name of Michael Jackson, with a blue welveteen waistcoat with a double row of mother of pearl buttons.' We all saw this, right? Alright.

Needs another row of buttons.

I am desperately sad for Sir Leicester, who will never again see his much beloved NOR EVEN GET TO OFFER HER HIS FORGIVENESS. It breaks my heart in the best way how he was immediately like, FIND HER AND SAY ALL IS FORGOTTEN, like, he didn't even take the well-deserved chance to sulk over it and maybe score himself some guilt-ridden sexual favors. And then Volumnia tip-toeing all around, peeping on him and whispering, 'He is asleep' to herself, 'in disproof of which superfluous remark Sir Leicester has indignantly written on the slate, "I am not."'

A little something to break up the weepies I'm having.

Esther goes to see Mr Skimpole and try to delicately persuade him to stop sucking, and I am like, srsly tho, and she is like, I know I'm basically rolling a boulder up a hill, here, and I am like, AS LONG AS YOU'RE AWARE, and then 'As it so happened that I never saw Mr Skimpole again...'

Seriously, though. So excited.

Oh no wait, one more thing: 'Jarndyce, is common with most other men I have known, is the incarnation of selfishness.'

Woodcourt loves Esther, we are all triumphant because like that's going to go unrequited, Esther is very noble about it even though *I* would be looking for a way out of my Jarndyce-engagement immediately. Especially when Mr J is like, 'the old dream I sometimes dreamed when you were VERY YOUNG [emphasis mine], of making you my wife one day.'

This was the first time I was grossed out by their relationship, but I was VERY grossed out.

Mr George goes to see his brother, expecting censure and receiving FONDNESS and his 'How do you do, my dear old fellow. I never could have thought you would have been half so glad to see me as all this. How do you do, my dear old fellow, how do you do!'

Mr Guppy's mother hollering at Esther and Jarndyce to get out of their own house because she's all indignant about Esther not wanting to take up with her son. 'Why don't you get out?...What are you stopping here for?' I am laughing so hard right now.

The J&J suit comes to an end with no one getting anything, Woodcourt predicts that it will 'break Richard's heart,' I am like, GOOD, Richard totally and unexpectedly dies, I am like VERY GOOD I APPROVE HEARTILY.

I mean, with all the tragic deaths in this book, at least Dickens got ONE of them right.

Bleak House comes to a close, Ada is free, Esther and Woodhouse are married but little Richard 'has two mamas' and I think we all know what that means.

Once again, it's been delightful giffing my way through a classic with you ladies. I can think of no one elses I'd rather hate on Skimpole with.

Mr George 4 ever, p.s.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Bleak House readalong

I almost read past the deadline this week because THINGS ARE COMING TO A HEAD.

Oh Mr Bucket, with your unctuousness and geniality and your desire to check people's yards for escape routes and your interest in Mr George's boots, you are a suspicious fellow.

Speaking of Mr George
I was trying to find a funny gif of someone being clapped into handcuffs but then I found this and THEN I fell into a rabbit hole of Sherlock gifs and I only just got out. HOWEVER, I get a little bothered over Mr George and Mr Cumberbatch both, so SORT OF RELEVANT. Also the handcuffs. 

I sort of figured he didn't do it, and I hoped some sense of Victorian literary justice wouldn't let an innocent man be wrongly convicted, but Dickens is always killing off innocent orphans, so. Sidebar: I swear, Charles, if Baby Esther Jellyby Turveydrop dies...

Ok, I'll be honest that I haven't really liked Woodcourt up to this point. I mean, he's FINE. He's no Mr George, but I see where Dickens is going and yes, ok. But then Mr Vholes gets all up on him with his unnecessary crypticism, all, I tell you nothing about Mr C's business, etc, and Woodcourt is like, 'You seem to forget...that I ask you to say nothing and have no interest in anything you say.' Which is Victorian for:

I'm trying to avoid talking about Esther, kissing Ada and laughing and running away like, Ha ha, oh you, all married and such, and then CRYING AND CRYING because now they can never be together. I can't believe Ada married Richard. I mean, I knew they were going to eventually, but I figured it'd happen later after Richard stopped being such a dick and Mr Jarndyce gave his blessing and all. Also, is it weird that it didn't even occur to me to be grossed out by Mr J and Esther? I just read that marriage proposal and registered the age differences and went, Yep, 19th century, and then read WITH SURPRISE everyone else's appalled and indignant posts.

Oh, hahaha, can we take a moment to discuss Esther creeping back to listen in on Ada and Richard, and hearing 'the murmur of their young voices,' and I am like, THEY ARE NEWLYWEDS WHO HAVE BEEN LIVING SEPARATE UNTIL JUST RIGHT NOW. Get your ear out of there, E, before you hear something offends your maidenly sensibilities.

We come at last to some Big Reveals, and I WILL ADMIT that when Mr George is like, 'I saw a shape so like Miss Summerson's go by me in the dark,' I was like,

so you got me, Charles. WAY TO LAY THOSE FALSE CLUES. And the whole scene with Sir Leicester I still thought Lady D was the culprit. When he was all, 'If it were my brother who had committed [the crime], I would not spare him,' I was like WATCH YO MOUTH BECAUSE YOU WILL REGRET THIS SHIT.

But it is Hortense, and the more she's on-screen, the more I enjoy her. Kills Tulkinghorn, yes! Says things like, 'Is it that you have almost all finished, or are you speaking always?' This is my new go-to argument-ender.

For when this doesn't work.

I am scheduling this post and getting immediately back into the reading because omg.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Bleak House Readalong: Super Late Edition

I wasn't going to post on last week's Bleakalong because I am so tardy, but then I was reading the assigned section and Mr Jarndyce asked Esther to marry him and

so here we are with some brief thoughts:

I want Esther to marry Mr Woodcourt but I want Mr Jarndyce to not have his feelings hurt MORE than I want that first thing so I hope he's just offering out of sympathy or practicality (because we all know Dick-chard and Ada are going to get married eventually, and then Esther and Mr J will be LIVING IN SIN and he has clearly thought of this).

Also, I like how Mr J preps her by being like, I have something to write to you, but I won't write it until you can promise you won't think weirdly of me, and even though that is cryptic and mysterious and vague on purpose Esther is like, This is a totally unweird situation to be happening. VICTORIANS YOU GUYS WERE SO WEIRD.

Not this weird, but weird.

In lesser news, the one painting 'with large round eyes (and other charms to correspond).' LOL YOU MEAN BEWBS DON'T YOU CHARLES.

Hortense goes to Tulkinghorn with threats and he is all, 'Think twice before you come here again,' and she is like, 'Think you...twice two hundred times!' Ah, the French. Always trying to one-up you.

I will out-bonjour ALL these bitches.

'Mr Vhole put his dead glove, which scarcely seemed to have any hand in it, on my fingers.' CHARLES YOU OCCASIONALLY KILL ME WITH YOUR DESCRIPTORING.

The bit about Jo not being a foreigner or dirty heathen, 'not softened by distance and unfamiliarity,' and so no one cares that he's starving and sick, that bit is not subtle but it is TRUTHY. Also?

No one can move you on any longer, Jo.

This section ends with Tulkinghorn 'shot through the heart,' which I totally did not expect. Things are getting very Game of Thrones-y up in here.

Except Esther and Ada, and probably Richard (though I still have hopes). Mr J is likely safe, too.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bleak House readalong

Still bleaking.

KROOK IS MRS SMALLWEED'S BROTHER. Errrrrrbody is related.


So that gives Smallweed a leg up on whatever letters Krook had secreted away (unless they were in his spontaneously combusted pocket).

I love the Bagnets. 'Silence! The old correct - in her way of giving my opinions - hear me out!' Way to continue the charade of having a mind of your own, sir.

And I still love Mr George and find him not-boring, so I get all nervous when he and Mr Bagnet go to negotiate with Smallweed. There are NOT 'two people in England less likely to come satisfactorily out of any negotiations' with said Smallweed than those two. They should have brought the Mrs. 'If my old girl had been here - I'd have told him!'

So Esther is no longer blind, which is great for her, but WHYYYYYY have her go blind in the first place? Like, narratively speaking? Was it just for pathos? I feel like Dickens is too hung up on his own creative symbolism to just be like, AND SADLY BLIND FOR A BIT and now ok, for no reason. Also, Ada calling to Esther that she 'was cruel and did not love her' because she wouldn't let Ada be exposed to SMALLPOX is...not awesome. Be more awesome, Ada.

Boythorn forever. I sense that we will all comment on his assertion that if Esther does not come stay in his house, he will pull it down and not leave one brick standing on another. It's worth re-enjoying.

'a letter in my hand, without any ordinary beginning such as "My dear Jarndyce," but rushing at once into the words, "I swear if Miss Summerson do not come down and take possession of my hosue, which I vacate for her this day at one o'clock, P.M.," and then with the utmost seriousness, and in the most emphatic terms, going on to make the extraordinary declaration he had quoted.' 

Boythorn is nothing but declarations.

QUESTIONS THAT I HAVE: How did Lady Dedlock know Esther had been to visit the Two Broke Girls (With Abusive, Drunken Husbands And Babies Both Dead And Alive)? IS SHE HAVING HER FOLLOWED?

Woodcourt is obviously being set up as Good Enough For Perfect Esther, surround as he is by 'storm-worn people who had fallen at his feet and blessed him as their preserver.'

No one is, really, except Esther.

LOL DICKENS when Mrs Flite is like, All the most knowledgeable, imaginative, and humanitarian people are added to the nobility, which is 'the great reason why titles will always last in the land' and Esther is like, 'I'm afraid she believed what she said.' I ENJOY YOUR SARCASM, SIR.

Ada on Lady D's 'proud manner and imperiously chilling air': good thing Ada is a Kindness Archetype and doesn't have a shit-talking bone in her body, or this could have been rullll awkward.

Esther, only she would have put in the appropriate apostrophe.

Oh Richard on his profession doing 'as well as anything else, for a time.' My notes in this section are just 'bffffarrrrrrgle' because I just can't. Richard and Skimpole deserve each other, and I think they should get married and leave Ada and Esther to braid each other's hair.

Richard: If J&J is so corrupting, then how is Uncle John not corrupted?
Esther: Because [reasons]
Richard: 'Oh, because and because!' LOL Esther, I didn't ask you because I wanted an answer.

I feel like this happens a lot in books, where the girl is like, Seriously, if you actually (as you profess) want to make ME happy, you will shave that mustache/not go to that bar fight/'for ever turn...your back upon that shadow in which we both were born.' And the guy is like, I know what'll REALLY make you happy, girl, and ALSO my manliness depends on it. *grooms mustache/goes to bar fight/continues to pursue a court settlement that is in its bajillionth year*

'the dead sea of the Chancery suit and all the ashy fruit it cast ashore' - ten points to Dickendore for this description.

Krook's cat, Lady Jane, 'almost look[ing] as if she was Krook,' I mean, I know better than to suspect this is going that route but THAT IS FANFIC I WOULD READ.

Aaaaaand the mystery of Weevle's Dedlock portrait explained, in the Galaxy Gallery of British Beauty, i.e. Pin-Ups of the Nobility.

Dat ankle.

I flipped to the next chapter and was all, UGH, Doodle and Coodle. But then I realized that was in next week's section so suck it, next week.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bleak House Readalong

Spoiler for all you chumps who didn't finish this week's assignment, it ends in SPONTANEOUS HUMAN COMBUSTION.

Dollars to donuts says Chancery Court has one of these.

And while I am like, LOL THAT, the scene leading up to it is actually fantastically creepy. WHYYYYYY is there a smeary black ash settling on things, and WHATTTT is this nastiness creeping down the window? Also, I like how spontaneous combustion is 'engendered in the corrupted humours of the vicious body itself,' i.e. you are so wicked that you burst into flames.

You were asking for it, basically. Now go sit over there.

So. The plot thickens to a stew in this section. Tulkinghorn, I don't know what your game is but it is SHADY, with your rusty clothes and your old wine. Also, you get hilariously angry when Mr George won't show you Hawdon's letters.

But I do not like how you 'pursue[ Lady Dedlock] doggedly and steadily, with no touch of compunction, remorse, or pity.' Also I find that whole passage super chilling.

I'm not totally sure how important Liz and Jenny (the two poor women with the abusive husbands and the babies [one dead]) are, but that scene where the one whose baby ISN'T dead is like, If he should turn bad in spite of all I could do, it'd be better if he had died too, FIRSTLY ugh that scene.

And secondly, this makes me think of Nemo, and how his mom would probably have been like, I don't wish he had died in infancy, but I kind of do? I mean, children can be such a disappointment when they overdose on opium.

Ok and Hortense flinging herself on Esther. YOU NEED A MAID I WILL WORK SLAVISHLY FOR YOU I WILL DO IT FOR FREE. That's...not suspicious or terrifying.

Is anyone sympathetic towards Richard or are we all like, This guy. Because I feel towards him the way people seem to feel towards the Shopaholic (REMEMBER THOSE BOOKS?) where I am like, Get your shit together and stop being a total doob about money and not really caring about it except for that one time when you cried over it and I didn't believe your tears, there are other people whose lives you affect. Richard is a knob. And not like Mr Quale's great big shining temple knobs, which I always think of as literal knobs because my brain doesn't always metaphor properly.

So like this, only the bolts are in the temples. This is how I picture Quayle.

So Caddy is my favorite. And she and Esther together are my favorite.

'"I didn't mean to use the expression to you, Esther," Caddy apologized, her faced suffused with blushes, "but I generally call Prince my darling child."
I laughed; and Caddy laughed and blushed and went on.
"This has caused him, Esther -- "
"Caused whom, my dear?"
"Oh, you tiresome thing!" said Caddy, laughing, with her pretty face on fire. "My darling child, if you insist upon it."'

I just...I love gal pals. LOVE them. Tease on, ladies.

Speaking of things I love: Charley as a maid as a present to Esther from Mr Jarndyce. OH CHARLEY AND ESTHER AND MR JARNDYCE AND EVERYONE (except Richard. Who is aptly named, because he is a dick).

FURTHER EXAMPLES OF DICKISHNESS: Mr Jarndyce very sagely advises Richard and Ada to not formalize anything because they are young and their future is uncertain, and this is WISDOM IN A BOX but Richard is obviously like

and Mr J keeps on keepin' on wisdoming and kindnessing at him even though it sucks when young people are young people about things.

So. Smallweed returns, and we are of split opinions on Mr George and his (admittedly kind of boring) scenes, but when Smallweed wants some handwriting of the mysterious and as-yet-unexplained Hawdon's handwriting to compare to something else, I was like, AH HA! Finkle is Einhorn! Hawdon is Nemo.

Also, I slightly retract what I said earlier about how boring Smallweed is, because I'd forgotten his shouting and cushion-throwing, but I was reminded of that by 'you crabbed image for the sign of a walking-stick shop' because LOL and also WUT.

MORE PLOT THICKENINGS when Guppy (that freaking guy) shows up to blackmail Lady Dedlock about perhaps being related to a little girl named, 'not Esther Summerson, but Esther Hawdon.'

Now, so do we think that Guppy keeps trying to marry Esther for her Possible Future Connections And Perhaps Dollars? I'm asking.

Mrs Woodcourt, you are not subtle. Oh, Esther, since you are a 'third party wholly disinterested' I can confide in you that my son (who will marry a person of rank, probably) has one abiding failing, and it is flirting with young ladies even though he doesn't care for you them at all. Like, even the littlest bit.

Mr Skimpole recommends turning a sickly Jo out into the cold, dark night.

Seriously, though, any holdouts on Skimpole NOT being terrible?

Charley gets sick, Esther gets sick, Esther is blind (NOOOOOO), and WHYYYYYYYY is there a portrait of Lady Dedlock over the mantle in Mr Weevle (formerly, like, Jobling or whoever)'s apartment? I AM ASKING.

Etc etc fatty blackish ash etc combustion the end. SOME GOOD STUFF IN HERE, CHARLES. I will keep reading, look you.