Sunday, March 1, 2015

Currently Reading: 'The Cuckoo's Calling' by Robert Galbraith

The audiobook I'm currently listening to (borrowed from my local library) while I commute is The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith, a pseudonym of J.K. Rowling. Thus far, I've listened to 5 of 13 discs.

Oh, Jo, how I've missed your expansive vocabulary, your encyclopedic knowledge of Classical mythology and folklore, your insights into human nature, your particular sense of humor, your casual familiarity with 400 years of British literature, and your use of the Latin language.

Two references to Virgil's Aeneid have occurred in the part of the book I've listened to thus far - is Rowling drawing a comparison between Lula Landry (the deceased fashion model around whom the mystery occurs) and Queen Dido of Carthage? I seem to remember that Dido commits suicide by throwing herself off a cliff; Landry is thought to have committed suicide by jumping from her flat's third-floor window. Carthage is in North Africa; Landry is of multiracial English and African descent.

Sidebar: I had to read the Aeneid in college and I distinctly remember barely being able to understand a word of it. I remember calling my dad and asking him if he could take me to Barnes and Noble to get the Cliff Notes. This was the late '90s, mind you, and I don't think Shmoop and SparkNotes were things yet.  If they were, I hadn't yet discovered them.

The statue of Eros - well, technically his twin brother Anteros, but commonly referred to as Eros - at Piccadilly Circus is where Robin Ellacot and her beloved Matthew got engaged to be married. Creative Commons image by Eriko Nakagawa.
Will Cormoran Strike turn out to be another literary example of Marry the Man with One Leg? He walks with the aid of a prosthesis after losing part of a leg in Afghanistan. You know who else in British literature was wounded in Afghanistan? John Watson in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. Although Cormoran is the Sherlock Holmes and his Watson is Robin Ellacot, I tend to think it's an intentional homage.

And Now Some Harry Potter References I Have to Get Out of My System.

Will that pink "bekittened" death threat turn out to be from Dolores Umbridge?

(Actually, I already heard about the man with the not-cheating wife who sent the death threats. Umbridge was my first thought, though.)

How did Lula get that scar on her arm? Was it - Voldemort?

Cormoran's sister Lucy has three sons. In their portrait, the boys are wearing bottle-green school uniforms. Slytherins, then?

Tanacetum vulgare, or tansy, in a Creative Commons image by fir0002
I like the name Tansy, even if the character isn't a very lovable one. Neville Longbottom, Hogwarts professor of herbology, could tell you that tansy, a member of the daisy family, has also been used as a medicinal herb, although it should not be due to toxic side effects. WebMD can tell you that the word "tansy" derives from the Greek word athanasia, or immortality. The ancient Greeks used it for embalming.

Because the plant effects include stimulating blood flow, it has been used to treat fluid retention and to stimulate menstrual flow. It has been used for abortion. BUT it should not be used medicinally because of the serious risk of side effects that include kidney and liver failure and death.

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