Saturday, 28 September 2013

Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent

In Nickle and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich makes it very clear early in the book that she is not claiming that she is speaking for the working class. She states that she cannot entirely know what their lives are like, and what she is presenting is her own experience, and stories she was told by others. But even though she works the low-paying jobs, that does not give her a monopoly on what life is like for others who do the same.

This specificity benefits that book greatly, as it is almost always from her own experience, and stories told by her coworkers, backed up by literature on the subject. But she is always careful not to claim too much authority, not to say that what she experienced gives her ownership over the minimum wage experience.

Norah Vincent, unfortunately, does no such thing. And that is the irritating thing about this book. When she is specific, talking specifically about what she experienced and the stories she is told by the men she interacted with, it's pretty darn good. But then, every time, she extrapolates from that to tell us how what she experienced is what all men experience. Keep it small and personal, and let your readers draw their own conclusions. Because many of those grand philosophical statements were based on pretty shaky anecdotes.

Vincent passes for a man for over a year (on and off), and writes about her experience. Fair enough, participant journalism, all that jazz. But over and over, she'll say something along the lines of "I, as a woman in drag, experienced this reaction, and therefore, all men have this reaction." There's a whole set of assumptions in that that may or may not be founded, but the sheer uncriticalness of that stance drove me crazy.

I would be very interested to hear what male readers make of this book, what she makes of their experiences, how she says men feel. I'm guessing some of it is on point, some of it is not.

(I was, with eyebrows raised, telling my husband about her revelation that when she was dressed as a man waiting for a date, she felt very small and insignificant, and then drew the conclusion that not only do all men feel that way in all circumstances relating to dating, but that that was why R. Crumb drew large women, to show how women make men feel insignificant. My husband looked back at me, eyebrows equally raised, and informed me that R. Crumb drew large women because he had a sexual fetish for them.)

But here's my real issue. And it's certainly not one that is hers alone, it's a fairly common one. (You'll have to bear with me, I'm in the middle of writing a chapter of my dissertation on masculinity in the 19th century.) It's the idea that there is One. True. Masculinity. And that it is ahistorical.

This is not an uncommon notion. It's fairly prevalent. It's also bullshit. There are always competing masculinities, some with more cultural recognition than others. Some are class-based. Some are sexuality-based. Some are race-based. Some, like the men I study, are based on religion and associational culture. But what they all have in common is that they are used to see if others measure up to the standards they set, and that they are not static. And they are not singular.

In this case, she uses the term "Real Men" quite a lot. And what she means by that is a fairly traditional idea of working-class white American masculinity. But by conflating class and gender, she entirely ignores class as part of a masculine identity. This is not new. (I'm trying not to be pedantic here, I'll try to move on, but if you're at all interested, Gail Bederman's Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917 is a really good look at how working-class and black masculinities have historically been fetishized and sometimes held up as the only masculinity worth aspiring to.)

So there's that, and that's one of my pet peeves, this One Masculinity crap. As is the idea that what masculinity is is eternal and doesn't change of time. Bullshit.

The other problem is her sample sizes. Again, if she'd been more specific, this would have been fine. If she'd told these stories, and let them stay right there, that would have been very powerful. But no. She keeps using these fairly small sample sizes to make grand universal ahistorical proclamations. She uses a bowling league to tell us about how all men interact with each other in all social situations. She uses men who go regularly to strip clubs to tell us about how all men experience their sexuality in regards to women. She uses door-to-door salesmen to tell us how all men experience work.

Keep it smaller, keep it simpler, and this would be a very good book. As it is now, there are some really good stories, some really good hints of something more, but they are overshadowed by this desire to make a definitive statement on masculinity.

It's frustrating, because I don't disagree with her basic premise - that all is not sweetness and light for men, that gender boundaries and policing can be be restrictive and difficult for men to negotiate too. But she argues more than she is able to support, and falls into that trap of believing there is one true masculinity, and she's experienced it.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Accelerando by Charles Stross

I am trying so hard, but I still haven't read a Charles Stross I like as much as I like his twitter feed, and that makes me frustrated. I want to fall in love with his books! This gets closer than the two I've previously read, but not quite there. It's a good book, but I'm still a little on the fence.

Partly it's because I get a little baffled by his singularity stuff. I enjoy it, it's exciting, and it should be difficult for us mere pre-singularity mortals to understand. But at a certain point, I keep feeling like there's a piece of information he's left out that would help me make a little more sense out of what's going on. I like it when authors expect me to figure things out myself, but I just keep feeling like there's a piece of evidence that I'm either overlooking or isn't there that would let me do so.

But, you know, that's okay. I'm fine with letting absolute comprehension go by if the story and character are good. And in this one, the story is good, but the characters drove me batty. I was reading two books at the same time with families who control and mock and hurt each other and all behave like emotionally stunted adolescents no matter what their ages, and the other one became the first book I didn't finish this year.

This is not quite that bad, but I did get frustrated with the characters, even though there is a bit of a reveal near the end that makes their reaction to each other a bit more understandable. But it's still not fun to go through 400+ pages of kneejerk negative reactions to each other, and no one ever actually talking or actually listening to anyone else.

And the bit where the book seems to claim that in order to get to a singularity, any civilization, on any planet, needs to be in the midst of stock market capitalism? Complete with pyramid schemes and other economic absurdities? I don't care if you say that's what happens here, but that's what happens to everyone, so there's an interstellar futures market because everybody's doing it? I would need to know why, I think.

So this has been fairly negative so far, but that's mostly because I'm trying to parse out exactly why these books don't quite grab me when I'm quite willing to be grabbed. On the good side, it's a fascinating look at what a world that is almost unrecognizable to us might be like. The divisions between groups of humans (although I wasn't thrilled that everyone that didn't embrace the technology wholeheartedly were portrayed as control-freak fundamentalists) and the growing generation gap between the posthumans and the ahead-of-the-curve technophiles that gave them birth.

I enjoyed the ideas in this story very much, and that was almost enough. Not enough to make me fall hard for this author, but I'm getting there. I'll try again.

Booklinks:

I read this book as part of an attempt to read all the Hugo Nominees

Thursday, 26 September 2013

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

I just...I don't know. I have now read The Portrait of a Lady and I'm just feeling a little flat. Like I stubbed my toe on something invisible, and I'm not quite sure what. I'm not sure why this book didn't grab me, I only know it didn't.

I didn't hate it, I was just a little bored by it, and that's an unusual way for me to react to a proclaimed "classic." The story was too sparse, the characters, for all the time we spent with them, not that well-drawn. I didn't really care about anyone, and had no reason to.

The last section of the book was the strongest - it's really what the whole book has been leading up to. But four hundred pages of lead-up for barely a hundred of something pressing and urgent and upsetting seems to be taking the very long way around. But still. I don't demand a quick-driving plot. I liked Swann's Way. So why not this?

I'm trying to think this through as I write.

It wasn't that this was meandering. It wasn't that meandering. It was more like stasis. People talked to each other about how much they liked Isabel Archer. And then they travelled somewhere. And talked about how much they liked Isabel Archer. And Isabel fretted over being liked. And yet, I still don't feel like I could tell you a damned thing about Isabel's personality. With that much space in which to talk about her, you'd think she'd leap off the page and stand before me, vibrant and alive. It just never happened.

Bad marriages you can't get out of are certainly an interesting topic, but it took so long to come to this one. And the tension felt much less exquisite than in something like The Age of Innocence. Heck, almost every other woman we saw in the novel, barring Henrietta, had left her husband, so the extreme pressure to stay with someone no matter what was kind of a misfire. And none of those ladies really seemed to have suffered overmuch from the experience.

Not a lot of plot, characters I never really believed in. (Except perhaps Henrietta Stackpole, who was a bit of a caricature, but at least she was vivid.) And the prose didn't knock me off my feet. Any of those three might be enough to intrigue me, but for whatever reason, The Portrait of a Lady didn't grab me on any level.

And if James was trying to say something about Europeans as opposed to Americans, I just wasn't getting it. I got some broad strokes, but not the nuance of his argument. If there was nuance.

I feel apologetic when I don't enjoy a book so generally lauded. I'm feeling that way now. And I'll probably try another Henry James eventually, or read this again in a few years and see if that makes a difference.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Joyland by Stephen King

This is only the second Stephen King book I've ever read, other than The Stand. I just don't do horror, as a general rule. But then this came out, and it was a mystery, or at least marketed as such, and so I figured I'd give it a try.

It isn't really about the mystery, though, and others have noted it. There is a mystery, sure. The main character works at Joyland, an amusement (not theme - King is careful about the difference) park one summer in the 1970s. Several years earlier, a girl had been murdered on one of the rides, and her ghost still appears to be around. And by the end, whodunit is revealed.

But that isn't really what the book is about. It's the framing, but this is about growing up, and feeling dislocated and losing first love, and trying to figure out who the hell you are, and at a certain point, starting to recognize that people outside of yourself are people too.

Devin Jones has been dumped by his girlfriend while starting work at Joyland. I've never worked at an amusement park, but I also spent one summer selling fun, and I have to say it was the best summer job I ever had. (I was a tour guide on a Haunted Walk. So much fun - tell people spooky stories and history about my beloved hometown, walk through the most beautiful parts of said town, or the Fort nearby, and have people just come to be entertained? Bliss. Of course, I had that job when I was in my late twenties and had gone back to school after working for a few years, so I didn't quite have the late-teen/early-twenties experience.)

Devin discovers while he's working there that he's particularly good at entertaining children, and this becomes increasingly important as the summer goes on, and there's one child in particular who Devin wants to see have a good time at Joyland. (I've also worn big heavy hot costumes to entertain children, back when I worked at a bookstore, but I can't say I enjoyed that. Those things are awful. But Devin seems to enjoy it.)

More than the mystery, which is shoved aside for most of the book, this is about love and loss, and death. Those first few times you come face to face with it, violent, or sudden, or expected, or extended. There was at least one section in there where I teared up.

So my second encounter with Stephen King was a good one. It almost makes me want to branch out and try more of his stuff. But probably not.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Native Star by M.K. Hobson

Native Star is set in 19th century America, an America which is vaguely steampunky, but much more magical. Both sides in the Civil War used magic, which is presently divided into three schools: animancy (that may not be right, but it's close), traditional magic using herbs and things from the earth. Credomancy, which uses belief in magic and its abilities to power said abilities. And sangrimancy, blood magic.

The country is expanding fast, and so is the magic business - with, possibly, extremely negative side effects from magic run-off.

Emily lives in a small California town with her adoptive father, with no memory of her mother, who died bringing her there. She and Pap practice traditional magic, but the new wizard in town, a pompous asshat by the name of Dreadnought Stanton, is there to teach them everything they're doing wrong. But Emily's actions mean she ends up with a magical stone embedded in her hand and on the run from credomancers and sangrimancers alike. With Stanton, of course. And do sparks fly? Of course they do.

Which was a bit of a problem for me. The author does such a good job of making Stanton a pretentious jackass at the start of the book that the whole idea that Emily would fall in love with him (and change him for the better) made me annoyed. Some redeeming features, please. I don't buy that he suddenly stops being a jerk.

On the other hand, I did like the way Hobson dealt with certain aspects of this kind of historical fantasy that are often glossed over. Too often, the main characters are the lone proponents of decent liberalism and tolerance in an intolerant society. Women? They believe they're equal. People who are Black, or Native? Everyone else might look down on them, but not our intrepid heroes! I get why this is done, to make characters more palatable, but it's become almost a truism, and often handled very off-handedly, like it's entirely simple for someone to just disregard the cultural background in which they were raised. Why didn't everyone in the 19th century just do it?

Which is not to say I want books full of racism, either. I get why it's done. It's just done sloppily, a lot of the time, and Hobson's tack on it, having Stanton not really respect women, particularly, until Emily beats it into his head, and having Emily share the prejudices against Natives with others in her society until she actually has some dealings with them - these aspects were well and delicately done. It wasn't over-the-top prejudice, but it was dealt with with more complexity than we often see.

But other than that, there wasn't much about this book that grabbed me. I'd put it in the pile with so many others these days, of a book that was fine, that I enjoyed while I was reading it, but never really reached another level. I wouldn't avoid other books by this author, I wouldn't seek them out either. (I need to come up with a shorthand for that.)

Monday, 23 September 2013

The Birth House by Ami McKay

Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers

Mark this down as another book that I enjoyed, but didn't quite love. Something kept me separated from the story, kept me from falling head over heels for the characters (although the "women from away" stole my heart quite a bit.) It felt at times like I could see the story engine grinding too much behind the scenes, could see the way things were going to go.

The writing is really quite lovely, so the predictability wasn't as big a problem as it could have been in the hands of a lesser wordsmith. But there were no real surprises in this book. Of course the midwife wasn't supposed to end up with the handsome but mean and drunken man and was supposed to end up with his kind, injured brother instead. Of course, when she was accused of causing a woman's death, it turned out the woman's husband had pushed her down the stairs instead. All of these things felt quite predictable, and I would have liked non-obvious things to happen.

The one thing I did enjoy was that, at the end, she didn't marry the nice brother, kept her own house, but they stayed together for thirty years. The reaction to this rang very true for what I know of small-town life, where a relationship like that is scandalous and causes talk and some ostracism, but may, in the long run, just fade into the scenery.

Dora, as a young woman, is taken up by the local midwife, and taught her craft. She becomes the sole midwife in her mountain maritime area just as a new doctor comes into town, offering pain-free hospital births, hell-bent on putting Dora out of business, and preferably, in jail. She has to battle the changing tide of medical opinion, her place as an oddity in a community that is trying to forget where they all were birthed, and a questionable marriage. And eventually, a murder charge, when a woman is found dead in her home, and her death is blamed on Dora's ministrations.

Ami McKay has a real gift for creating sympathetic characters, but her antagonists are a little bit thin. The "women from away" who have married into this community, and form the basis of Dora's female support network are lovely. Dora is interesting, although I can't say I ever quite got attached to her. Brief sketches show the depth of feeling between Dora's mother and father, and I loved that.

But the aunt falls a little too much into the stereotype of the religious hypocrite. I'm not saying these people don't exist, but could we have a little variation once in a while? The doctor is also never really fully developed. There are signs of him having a creepy obsession with Dora, but that's not fully explored.

And this is not something I'm blaming the author for, as I think it's a logical assumption to make based on the name of this group, and there's very little written about them out there, but the Sons of Temperance are one of three groups I'm writing my dissertation on, and every time she talked about the Sons of Temperance, and the nights when all the men were off at those meetings, giving the women the night to themselves, it gave my eye a little bit of a twitch. By the 1910s, the Sons of Temperance had admitted women as full members in their organization for over 50 years. It was not a "no-girls-allowed" club. That's actually one of the things that makes them unique on the fraternal order scene.

That's a very minor quibble, and comes directly out of my extremely specialized knowledge of the group. I try not to be a stickler for historical accuracy. But still, because that's one of the groups I spend my days writing about, it bothered me a bit.

In short, The Birth House is well-written, has an interesting if somewhat predictable story, and likeable sympathetic characters, if cardboardy unsympathetic ones. I enjoyed it while I read it.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker

Remember when I was writing, just yesterday, how a lot of fantasy had started to blur together? How I'd read some perfectly competent works that just didn't have their own unique voice?  There wasn't anything wrong with them, per se, there just wasn't enough right. This was one of the books I was thinking of.

It's fine, for the most part. The story is fine. The characters are fine. It's just not a whole lot more, and at this point, I want more, I want inventive, or at least distinctive authorial voices. So, while I may be critical of this book, keep in mind that it's fine. It's just much of a muchness, at the moment.

And there are some embarrassing copyediting mistakes - the kind of things that spellcheck wouldn't catch, but which caught my eye in a book that was otherwise quite readable. Gentile for gentle - not really the same thing! You also don't pay someone a complement.

In this story, Amaranthe is one of the first female Enforcers (read: police) in a vaguely fantasy, vaguely steampunk, world - the lack of distinctness in this was one of my problems. It would seem very stereotypical fantasy, then there would be a mention of steam shovels. If you want to make it steampunky or more modern, you have to actually do that.

As the first female Enforcer, Amaranthe obviously faces discrimination and is passed over for promotions. She is a good officer, and a neat freak, cleaning everything, all the time. Not sure why, but fine. She does catch the eye and heart of the Emperor on their very brief meeting, which is a problem since the Emperor is being drugged by the former Regent, who doesn't want any meddlesome controlling young woman with delusions of grandeur horning in on his turf.

So, she ends up a fugitive, and manages to hire/bribe/appeal to the better nature of a rag-tag group, including an assassin, a nobleman/male model (not kidding), a street gang member, and...what was Books? Whatever. Wait, did I mention that Amaranthe also went to business school? At any rate, they team up to fight crime save the Emperor from attempts on his life.

This book is mildly amusing, but I was never eager to get back to it, and once I was done, it quickly started to fade from my mind. I might read another in the series - it didn't actively irritate me, although there were some fairly odd features, but we'll see. I won't be seeking them out.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

This book is decidedly cozy. I am not saying that as a bad thing, not remotely. What saves it is that it is not saccharine. Cozy, but not sickly sweet. Neither is it a challenging read, nor are there ideas that will occupy your brain for days, just a belief that taking time for yourself, in pleasant surroundings, surrounded by people who genuinely like people and take care of each other, in a gorgeous setting, is good for the soul.

It is not hard to convince me of this.

So while there's nothing earthshattering here, it was pleasant to take a break in Maeve Binchy's world for a few hours. Chicky, the lead character, left the small town of Stoneybridge in Ireland when a young woman, for the wilds of New York. Twenty-odd years later, she returns to buy the local great house and turn it into a hotel. Along the way, she takes her niece under her wing, as well as the ne'er-do-well son of one of her school friends, who finds family and redemption working on something he cares about.

This is a theme.

And then they open for customers, and a young woman shows up with her very hostile potential mother-in-law, a pair of doctors with ghosts behind their eyes, an aging movie star, an unhappy Swedish accountant, an older couple who specialize in winning contests, a cranky retired school principal, and a young woman who sees more than she ought to. With one exception, they each find some measure of peace in Stoneybridge.

Look, you'll know from this description if you'll like the book. Stoneybridge is not where I'd want to spend the majority of my literary time - I'd grow awfully bored. But as a respite, a week in winter to holiday in lovely surroundings, it is well written, and the stories are comforting but not cloying.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi

Karim lives with his English mother and ex-pat Indian father. That is, at least until his father starts to attain some reputation as a wise Oriental in their suburban English neighbourhood. (I'm using Oriental intentionally, with the reference to Orientalism, the romanticization of the other, and the mishmash of different traditions the father combines.) Then he leaves his wife for a younger woman. Meanwhile, Karim tries to become an actor, and encounters all sorts of stereotypes of what he should be and what roles are available for him to play. His cousin is faced with an arranged marriage, with her father bringing over a prospective bridegroom from India, and although she marries him, the results are fairly far from what you could imagine.

This book was a lot of fun. It has that wryly English sense of humour. Through Karim, muddling through playing Mowgli in the Jungle Book, his attachment to his father's new girlfriend, guilt about his mother, his stepbrother's move from mediocre musician to punk icon, the book captures a certain time period in England, and mixes in second-generation immigrant issues. And a lot of sex.

I feel like I'm doing a lousy job of explaining the feel of this book. It's frequently very funny, and the eye Kureishi turns on all his characters, no matter their background, is sharp and merciless, yet somehow never cruel. Karim at one point runs into an issue where he can't portray the character he wants to in a collective creation, even though he has based it on his uncle, because another cast member objects to how it shows non-white people in a negative light. Kureishi accepts no such limitations.

And yet, you fall for these characters anyway, because their foibles make them endearing, and their mucking about, trying to find themselves in many different ways are entertaining and sometimes touching. Life doesn't unfold the way you want it to. Life is frequently more absurd than you thought possible. And failure happens, and doesn't have to be the end of the world. Success can be measured a hundred different ways. And perhaps neither is as important as we think.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

Its incredibly tempting to start this review with one long run-on sentence, with plenty of punctuation, but no periods, and particularly not apostrophes when youre dealing with words like "dont," but I find refraining from apostrophes incredibly difficult and everything I've written just looks wrong (but this is a hypnotic writing style after you've - dammit! - read it for a while, and to me, sounds like a horse's - I give up! - gallop, although I did find it slightly irritating that every single narrator (there are at least four) has exactly the same long sentences and cadence, which does seem to strain credulity, yet once you get sucked into the writing, it's hard to extricate yourself.)

And that's enough of that. I'm sure I'm not the first reviewer to try that gimmick.

Ah, paragraph breaks, how I've missed you.

It took me quite a while to figure out what I thought of this book, and I'm still not entirely sure. The race and miscegenation issues often made me uncomfortable. This book is obviously exactly what it is, though, and I'm loath to dismiss all of a certain genre of Southern literature, although I am also not willing to give it a free pass. This book is often and overtly racist and misogynist.

What finally really caught and held my attention was the realization of how much this is actually a book about storytelling. As I said, it switches narrators at different parts of the book, and few of them are telling a story they actually observed. Instead, they know the bare bones of what happened, and construct a narrative of what, to them, must have happened. Then, a detail that reframes the entire previous story will be revealed, and someone else will take up the tale. In doing so, the various narrators construct elaborate scenes and characters, and give to them detail and life and quirks, without ever knowing if those scenes occurred, if those characters existed, if anything remotely like what they imagine must have happened did happen.

And so, in a way, instead of being about what happened, it is a story about how people tell stories, about how they make them satisfying to themselves, how stories are constructed and communicated, and how much can be embellished in the telling.

It is also, unmistakably, a story of male desire. The women in the story are mostly ciphers, and even when they want something, they are very rarely given any agency around it, any ability to do anything that might change this story of men. Instead, this story is about men wanting fathers, sons, land, and other men. It is about desires spoken and unspoken, communicated, withheld, and transferred.

All the Sutpens are broiling cauldrons of desire, and for the most part, unattainable desire, or desire briefly won and then lost. And the sins of the father are brought upon the son(s), and spell doom in the end. There is an inexorableness about this book.

And yet, the cry that names the book is a bit of a puzzlement for me. It is a biblical cry of a father mourning for a lost son, a heartwrenching expression of loss. And yet, the father figure in the book seems more interested in the idea of a son than he does in the individual.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

An Armand Gamache novel not at least partly set in Three Pines? What will I do with myself? I have so much enjoyed knowing a whole town involved in a murder mystery, as well as the detective and his team.

Despite the initial trepidation this set off in my head, it was quickly allayed by the story that Louise Penny laid before me. This was really damned good. Even if it had a heartbreaking ending. Penny's understanding and portrayal of human nature in all its warts and beauties shines through every page.

There are two things going on in this novel: the main mystery, and the longer through-line that has been there since the very first Penny book. The pieces have started to fall into place the last couple of novels, and it's both upsetting and exciting to see where she will go with it. What will happen to our beloved Gamache?

So, the main mystery. It takes place, as I said, not in Three Pines, but in an extraordinarily remote monastery in northern Quebec. This monastery had lately become a sensation with the release of an album of Gregorian chants. The resulting fame has caused the monastery to go even further inwards, behind the walls they built to hide themselves from the world and the Inquisition. But the money the recording has brought in has split the community, a split made brutally clear when one man is killed. This brings Gamache and his right hand, Beauvoir, to the doors of the monastery, to carry out an all-too-earthy investigation.

And as a main mystery, this was a good one. Penny has a sure hand in creating all her characters, and the monks sprang to life off the pages. And they weren't treated with condescension, nor with pity. Each had their own reasons for joining such a reclusive order. This is not a novel where religious characters are simply called hypocritical and dismissed. But neither is it one that then assumes that religious belief is incompatible with pettiness, jealousy, and the kind of pain that eats away at someone until they lash out.

As for the larger storyline about Gamache and his place within the Surete de Quebec, and his relationships with his subordinates, particularly Beauvoir, we have seen what was coming for such a long time. Those cracks that fester, those moments where trust is withheld because of personal pain, the type of hurts that lead to the murders Gamache has investigated, they have been dropped in, moment by moment, for books. And reach a breaking point here. More than one character we know and love comes close to their personal moment when they could commit murder.

I don't want to say anything more, for fear of spoiling this one. But it's very sad, and upsetting, and yet, we know who Gamache is, and perhaps have some idea of what he'll do next. I look forward to finding out. And I hope that certain things are not irrevocable, but they may well be.