I’m hoping this will be the first of a semi-regular discussion (once a month?) of books I’m reading/have read/plan to read. Some will be old friends, some new to me, and some not yet published. In January so far I’ve read these novels:
- Running Dark, Jamie Freveletti
- White Houses, Amy Bloom
- The Dry, Jane Harper
I liked them all well enough to finish them, but I found White Houses mildly irritating, partly because I did not find the characterisation (Lorena Hickok and Eleanore Roosevelt) interesting and partly because the narrative chronology felt choppy and unfocused—to no narrative purpose that I could divine. I finished it because many years ago I fell in love with Blooms’s A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You: Stories, and so keep picking up her books. I’m just not sure how much longer I’ll force myself to finish them. The Dry was a pleasant surprise. I knew nothing of book or author but found this crime fiction set in Australia energetic and engaging. I can recommend it and will watch for Harper’s books in the future. I knew nothing of Running Dark, either, but discovered it as a bargain on Book Bub (where books are promotionally priced for a limited time, usually $1.99 or $0.99 or even free). For the price it was a perfectly adequate Somali-pirates-are-after-dangerous-experimental-drugs thriller, remarkable only for its protagonist, a woman who is essentially a thrill-seeker in low-key, ultra-fit-ultra-smart mode. If you’re looking for a few hours of untroubling entertainment, again, I can recommend it. (Apparently there’s now a whole series of Running books.)
Fiction I’ve just started:
- Madame Zero: 9 Stories, Sarah Hall
- Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado
- Hot Zone, Steven Konkoly
Sarah Hall is an amazing writer, but something about this particular collection is not grabbing me; when I’ve read more I might be able to articulate my problem (and it might just be my problem). Machado reminds me of a North American version of Ali Smith: occasionally astonishing but not quite in my ball park. Again, I’ll be more articulate when I’ve finished. So far, though, definitely worth reading. Hot Zone is a B-level thriller about viral outbreaks and the apocalypse; I’m about a quarter of the way through and it’s chuntering along satisfactorily.
I’m also reading Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander aloud to Kelley which is enormous fun. O’Brian is so very fine as a writer, an absolute joy to read aloud. But I’ve talked about O’Brian before, and at length.
In terms of non-fiction, a photo speaks a thousand words:
As you can see, queued up is a mix of
- Hild research (including Hild itself—fiction, yes, I know—because Menewood has taken an interesting turn and I need to remind myself of people and places I didn’t think I’d need for a few hundred pages)
- Babylonian/Akkadian research related to a notion I have about the literature of climate change
- Disability lit. Kenny Fries coined the Fries Test, and this anthology was one of the first by, for, and about disabled writers and readers.
I have zero idea of when/if I’ll get to these (one is an Inter Library Loan and my time is almost up). I also subscribe to a few periodicals:
- London Review of Books
- Paris Review
- New Yorker
plus two daily newspapers, Seattle Times and New York Times. Added to that are all the journals that come attached to membership in professional organisations, such as GLQ, Historia, Journal of Historical Fictions, HNR, DSQ, Writing in Education, The Writers’ Chronicle, ISLE, etc.
Seeing all this written down makes me realise how insanely and hugely over-subscribed I am. Huh. Okay, I’m going to cancel a bunch o’ subscriptions and get more writing done!