Things I saw at the Pedernales River:
- a water snake of undetermined species
- a tarantula, briefly captured by T. and his brothers
- more cardinals than I’ve ever seen in one location
- the skeletons of large fish trapped in potholes along the river
- small bleak towns near the park (Johnson City, Dripping Springs)
- vultures circling the campground
- minuscule but still extremely gross leeches on the rocks of the broad falls you see in the picture
- a tiny olive-colored soft-shelled turtle
- lizards of various types
- a small green bird
- a lot of beer
I slathered myself in SPF 50 and only got a bit pink on the end of my nose, which is a minor miracle. Also, no sun headache! Shocking. I credit the beer.
A few more pictures are up at flickr.
Over the weekend, I read David Liss’s A Conspiracy of Paper, one of relatively few mystery novels set in eighteenth century England. (I can state this with some confidence because my mother loves mystery novels and sent me a list of mystery novels with historical settings.) I enjoyed it, and I think it makes a pleasant and very readable introduction to the culture of paper credit in the 1710s-20s; not necessarily an easy thing to accomplish in fiction. Interesting to read it not long after reading Emma Donoghue’s Slammerkin and Life Mask, and to compare the ways in which the authors manage worldbuilding and exposition — something which varies even between Donoghue’s two books. Liss’s historical explanations are foregrounded in a way that startled me at first, as I’m much more accustomed to the naturalistic seamlessness of, say, Slammerkin or Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace. Some of that is authorial choice, of course, but some of it is also generic variation — the appeal of a mystery relies on the reader’s ability to understand the dramatic situation and the web of social relationships in which that mystery takes place. And that, I think, is why many mystery novels seem more given to straightforward first-person explanation than are many literary novels: because the social relationships need to be explained quickly and clearly so that the mystery can begin. I found the tactic surprising because I’m out of practice at reading mystery novels, and it’s very good to be reminded that my default way of thinking about historical fiction is in fact a particular kind of literary model.