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Book 23

  1. Pohl, Frederik — Gateway (278 pages)
  2. Clement, Hal — Mission of Gravity (193 pages)
  3. Benford, Gregory — Timescape (499 pages)
  4. O'Hare, Mick (editor) — Why Don't Penguins Feet Freeze? and 114 Other Questions (232 pages)
  5. Dos Passos, John — Number One (218 pages)
  6. Heller, Joseph — Catch-22 (457 pages)
  7. St. John of the Cross — Dark Night of the Soul (119 pages)
  8. Day, Dorothy — The Long Loneliness (286 pages)
  9. Allen, Ted, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley, and Jai Rodriguez — Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: The Fab 5's Guide to Looking Better, Cooking Better, Dressing Better, Behaving Better, and Living Better (250 pages)
  10. Whittemore, Carroll E., ed. (William Duncan, illus.) — Symbols of the Church (59 pages)
  11. Hardy, Thomas — Jude the Obscure (507 pages)
  12. Lee, Harper — To Kill a Mockingbird (278 pages)
  13. Mann, Thomas (Helen T. Lowe-Porter, transl.) — Death in Venice (73 pages)
  14. Kempis, Thomas à — The Imitation of Christ (165 pages)
  15. West, Canon Edward N. — Outward Signs: The Language of Christian Symbolism (232 pages)
  16. Alexander, Lloyd — The High King (253 pages)
  17. Bellairs, John — St. Fidgeta & Other Parodies (84 pages)
  18. Endo, Shusaku — Silence (300 pages)
  19. Moorcock, Michael — Behold the Man (137 pages)
  20. Pouncey, Peter — Rules for Old Men Waiting (208 pages)
  21. Davies, Robertson — Tempest-Tost (The Salterton Trilogy) (235 pages)
  22. Davies, Robertson — Leaven of Malice (The Salterton Trilogy) (218 pages)
  23. Davies, Robertson — A Mixture of Frailties (The Salterton Trilogy) (311 pages)

Page count: 5,592 of targeted 12,500.

User comments I'd read on the web suggested that A Mixture of Frailties was the least enjoyable of The Salterton Trilogy. One I vaguely recall went so far as to declare Tempest-Tost one of the greats of all-time and A Mixture of Frailties an uncharacteristic bore that one is better off skipping. Just goes to show how counter to popular opinion my tastes often run: I thought A Mixture of Frailties was easily the most enjoyable of the three novels.

No doubt a great deal of my attraction stemmed from the faithfulness with which Davies drew up the experiences(/demands) not only of an expatriot North American in London trying to rise from an artistically-deficient background to make oneself into a viable singer in the care of the the world's best teachers but truly of any serious student of singing. One of my biggest complaints about Tempest-Tost was that the amateur theatre group being parodied didn't in the least bit resemble any of the theatre groups with which I've worked; thus, since parody needs to reflect some reality to succeed, that first book failed to amuse me. Though I wouldn't call A Mixture of Frailties a parody at all, nor really a comedy in any but the broadest classical sense, Davies succeeded in mirroring the realities of aspiring singers.

If that were the only reason I enjoyed the book, it would certainly appeal only to a very narrow audience. However, I felt Davies did something else which was astute. Only the most interesting characters were carried over from the previous two books in the trilogy, and he confined those few characters (and the fictional city of Salterton itself) to the story's exposition and again very briefly to two episodes near and at the end of the story. Thus, the story felt fresher and took on a slight feeling of the exotic. Davies kept the introduction of new characters to a minimum and focused almost entirely on three prominent figures. I felt this gave his story more focus and his characters more relevance.

A Mixture of Frailties wasn't perfect, though. In the latter third of the book, Davies got away from recounting the exigencies of musical apprenticeships and instead introduced convoluted misadventures and improbable romances. At least he didn't attempt to exploit the slapstick potential and used his characters' foibles as opportunities for introspection; still, I felt this need for conventional comic plot twists cheapened ever so slightly an otherwise very enjoyable book.

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