Last night: Finished Lindqvist's 「Handling the Undead」. Lindqvist wrote 「Let the Right One In」 sometime back, which was made into a fantastic film (the book was just pretty good; we should probably credit the director, Alfredson, in elevating it to being a masterpiece). 「Handling the Dead」 had some charm, but it didn't really work as a book; this was Lindqvist's exploration of the idea of zombies, but something much closer to the philosophical idea of them than the horror movie idea. The non-zombie exploration was where the meat of the book resided; it told a number of human stories relating to a zombie outbreak, but unlike with his handling of Vampires, the zombies were not significantly a threat. I also got grumbly (as I often do) at that anti-science vibe of the book, but that's necessary for many kinds of good fiction, sadly. To root fiction in the stark reality that we are purely physical beings, no souls, no afterlife, no spirits, limited to the abilities we evolved with and those we graft onto our species, that categorically cuts off large parts of interesting fiction. Anyhow, for it's faults, it was an interesting read (although I wish I had just borrowed it from a library).
Right now, I'm checking out Chestnut Hill. I hit the halfway point in my 6-month lease recently, and I'm realising I desperately need to be planning both the next big thing in my life (grad school, probably) and the time between. Right now I'm focusing on the latter, but given that I have 3 months to figure out where I'm living until next fall, I don't have the luxury of exploring here and then exploring other cities; I need to be looking in all these places simultaneously. So, I need to visit areas of BostonMA/PortlandOR/EugeneOR I'd consider living, and I need to be exploring areas of Philadelphia I'd consider living pretty continuously. Likewise, if I want a job, I need to be applying full-steam to them in all these places. I'm bothered at the idea of this because I'm finally getting some relaxation in (internet came back up yesterday after about a week's downtime!), but oh well. I will find an intellectual, right-paced place to live somewhere, and I will hopefully get into a good grad programme afterwards.
Chestnut Hill seems ok. People here are walking everywhere, and what I've seen so far looks pretty. I need to find a coffeeshop with reasonable hours though; where I am now (Chestnut Hill Cafe) closes at 5. Otherwise, this might be a cool place (decent croissants for an American place, very nice atmosphere (reminds me of Tazza d'Oro), decent coffee, great location for people-watching), but closing early is an absolute disqualifier for being someplace I want to frequent. I'm not sure how intellectual it is, but it's at least more lively than Narbereth. I'll walk around Chestnut Hill for a bit and then check out parts of Mt Airy and Germantown later today.
I have a lot more to write about, but time is limited.