Transcription is an interesting sort of spy novel which operates in several different historical contexts. The protagonist works surveillance for a sting operation on Nazi sympathizers in wartime London. Her wartime experiences and relationships reappear as obligations in her post-war life working in children’s radio programming for the BBC. She returns to London late in life from a long life spent abroad. In each of these chronological frames there are connections and tensions implied, but things don’t come together until the end in a satisfying revelation.
I found this synthesis of the contemporary science on human endurance fascinating. The author is a runner and much of the subject matter has to do with running, but it is more than a book about running. The chapters are arranged thematically—collected around subjects such as diet, cardiovascular fitness, pain, and mental stamina—but a constant is the importance of person’s frame of mind and perception of their situation on their capacity for endurance. I found the material interesting in its own right, but I’m also curious about the potential to apply some of the insights about frame of mind to my own running.
I grabbed The Feral Detective in a rush at the airport in Houston over Christmas, knowing nothing about it and spending way more money than I intended for a new release hardcover. I loved it. In its own peculiar way, it fits into the long legacy of the outsider L.A. detective. It is alternatingly funny and shocking and harrowing. Its relationship to the geography of the Mojave Desert and the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains feels very real. It is the first work of fiction I personally have encountered composed of and for the moment of the Trump presidency, and in my opinion it earns its opportunity to represent this cultural moment. I strongly recommend it.