How Long do Heat Waves Last Anyway?

I discovered something shocking this week. Did you know that most ice skating rinks are closed until October? What's that all about? I was thinking that it makes a lot more sense to ice skate when it's hot because then if you fall down at least you get to cool off but apparently the rest of the world doesn't agree with me. Deprived of my chance to practice my triple axels, I mean fall on my tuchus, I was forced to turn my attention to other pursuits, but what? I don't exactly feel like running a marathon in this heat and there's only so much swimming I can fit in so I ended up falling back on an old favorite.

I read something recently that surprised me. It said that nobody likes short stories and that they are a dying art form. I do, I love short stories and I think that they are kind of ideal for the busy person who may only find a few minutes at a time to read. You can go on a short adventure and return to your regularly schedule business day much refreshed if you read the right kind of story. I just finished a book of short stories by Jay Lake called Dogs in the Moonlight. It's divided into four parts, Ghosts, Angels, Gods, and Aliens.

Not surprisingly my favorite part was the last part, the aliens. There's an extremely funny story about what happens when a stoned and drunk redneck picks up some odd hitchhikers, there's one about a curmudgeonly man who raises vegetables and goats who just wants to be left alone, one about the bacon-headed boy who ends up at the local foster child home and what happens when Immigration comes after him and one about some good old boys who decide that the aliens who just landed are nothing but pests and a wood chipper just might help get rid of them. This is Southern Gothic literature at its most fun with lines like "Doug Bob's cedar house was bigger than three doublewides" and there are enough goats, shotguns, beer and ghosts to please anyone.

Of course there are lots of other ways to squeeze in some reading and one of the most fun (if you can stand the suspense) is the serial novel. Published a bit at a time, you're never overwhelmed with too much to read at once. Of course you also can't read ahead, you have to stick to the schedule so if you feel you have to know what happens next you're kind of stuck. If you're really lucky your story is being posted at a website and you can be part of an online community that is also reading the book at the same pace as you, allowing you to comment and discuss the book with everyone else.

Luckily for us author David Wellington has provided us with a brand new serial novel, which he started posting on Monday, the 31st, and it's got a title guaranteed to cool us off; Frostbite.. Just like with his previous novels, like Monster Island, he'll be posting the entire book online, one chapter at a time. New installments come out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and you can sign up to have them emailed to you. The story starts off with a crisis, as you can see from this opening paragraph. "White water surged and foamed around Chey’s face. She could barely keep her mouth above the freezing torrent. Her hands reached around behind her, desperately trying to find what was holding her down, even as the water rose and she heard bubbles popping in her ears. Her skin burned with the cold and she knew she would be dead in seconds, that she had failed." Hmm, let's hope she's wrong or this will be the shortest serial novel ever published.

I read one other book this week, or at least one other book I liked enough to tell you all you should read, and that book is the favorite of lunatics and assassins everywhere, The Catcher in the Rye. Sadly our education system often completely spoils this book for us while we're in high school. How the heck can you enjoy anything while you're trying to find twenty fancy words and then use them in a sentence? Or even worse, doing these wretched summative assessments, an exercise so terrible it's no wonder that so many teens are driven to drink. But take away all this horrid pressure, read the book for fun and you'll discover it's a classic because the protagonist, Holden Caulfield is endearing and funny and someone that just about all of us can identify with. Who among us doesn't despise phonies? Who hasn't felt like they sometimes they don't fit in? Who hasn't been sad and blue over the death of a loved one and felt that the world will never be the same again? So you know, you could do what my mom always told me to do. Read the first chapter and see if you like it. You don't have to read anymore than that but I think you'll want to.

This week we have a one-sentence review from Cameron who is reviewing his recent drive through parts of Alaska. Cameron says, "I saw a wolf, two bears and a moose in a pond; it was awesome!" Have you got a one-sentence review you’d like to submit to Quality Time? Send it in to me at feedback@qualitytimeweekly.com and I'll run the best ones. You may focus on just about anything that fits a family entertainment format; games, movies, books, music - the sky is the limit.