Thibble Thursday: Sharper than a Serpent’s Tooth (2 Samuel 15–16)

It’s been snowing and I’ve gotten cabin fever. At least I got to go to work yesterday and might even get to go to work again tomorrow. In the meanwhile, here’s some more bible-bits

Short snarky summary: David really, really shouldn’t have brought that son home. He’s a kingdom-stealing asshole and David ends up fleeing to the hills with his entire retinue.

The moral of the story is, never do anything nice for anyone

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Số đỏ/Dumb Luck, by Vũ Trọng Phụng

What a difference a century makes! Only a little more than a hundred years after Nguyễn Du’s elegant, Chinese-influenced epic, comes this howlingly profane and unashamed satire of a Vietnam deep in the grips of French influence. Satire, I fear, is a product of its time, and although there were certain elements of this romp through Vietnam which were quite amusing, among them the “Being There” motif of a wholly unqualified person rising stratospherically throguh society. The central conceit of this work, as I understand it, though, is an exploration of just what “modernization” and “Europeanization” were thought to mean in early-mid-20th-century Vietnam, simultaneously representing desirable progress and the abandonment of cherished traditions. The overarching theme thus becomes “modernization is a great thing… for everyone else!” This comes to the fore early on with Mr. TYPN (translated into English as Mr. ILL)’s vocal objection to his wife’s shopping at his boutique, and doesn’t really develop much more in the way of nuance thereafter. I feel like certain aspects of the story straight up sailed over my head, because I wasn’t familiar with either the pre-Europeanized Vietnamese culture (aside from knowing it was heavily Chinese-influenced), nor the particular stew of European influences and the lens they were seen through at the time. It was a reasonably enjoyable read, because it was fun and lively and clever even when not wholly comprehensible, but I fear I might not actually have gotten the joke.

Wibble Wednesday: Et tu, Brute? (2 Samuel 13–14)

Man, I’ve fallen off the wagon here. Oh, well, back in with another cheery chapter of murder and sexual misdeeds.

Short snarky summary: David’s sons engage in self-destructive follies. One rapes his half-sister, and is murdered by his brother for his trouble. Said brother is exiled, but Daivd misses him so he comes back home.

Presumably the summary above is all the trigger warning you need