Today will be a slow-moving recovery day. Lots of blinking. Some sitting in the sun. Perhaps reading if I can find something worth my attention, a massage, perhaps even–if I recover enough healthy brain cells to fire at once–a look at Hild.
So what reading material can you suggest for me this weekend? Here are some books I’ve read recently and enjoyed.
Inseparable, Emma Donoghue. This is a good primer on the literary conventions of lesbianism: an explication of the fashions and clichés. Not a lot I didn’t already know but very good to see articulated and categorised. I can recommend it. Anyone who aspires to write themselves a place in the lesbian literary tradition needs to know what the tropes are. Read it.
The Echelon Vendetta, David Stone (a pseudonym). Stone writes with brio about a CIA “cleaner” in Italy, and the serious weirdness that ensues. Lots of violence (the protagonist kicks a couple of muggers to death under a bridge in Venice while singing show tunes, and we root for him all the way), some mind-altering substances, ghosts, betrayals, friendships, delicious Italian women. Everything you could possible want in a thriller: depth, bravura, humour, suspense. It reminded me a bit of the early Michael Gruber books. And I recognise some of Stone’s influences, so it’s a fun spot-the-other-author exercise, too.
Faithful Place, Tana French. This is set in Dublin, a cross between a police procedural and a family saga: revelations about the secrets of the past and the realities of the gritty present, told in pitch-perfect (okay, pitch-practically-perfect) dialogue and with verve.
Casting the Runes and Other Stories, M.R. James. I’ve been reading this very slowly–following all the footnotes, ruminating on the assumed common knowledge of James’ late 19th- and early 20th-Century readership. I haven’t quite finished the collection (it’s one of the Oxford Classics) but I will because the creepy, mist-drenched haunts of ancestral pile, cathedral close, and academic study are peculiarly soothing. After a dozen or so stories, I find myself longing for a hint, at least, of resolution or violence (I’m a product of a different age) but if you enjoy old-fashioned ghost stories, this is the book for you.
Another book I’ve read this week is a YA about virgin unicorn slayers. (No, I’m not kidding.) I’ll talk about that another time. For now, I have to go pay attention to rehydration, gentle stretching of an overused body, and some soaking-up-the-sun. Perhaps I’ll wear my new Swedish Bikini Werewolf Destruction tee shirt.