I'm going to do a thing this year. Since my resolution to not buy any books in 2009 (but to freaking read the ones that are already piled up across my floor and blocking my access to BED) died a grisly and humorous death on or about January 2, I've decided that...that's just not feasible. (I will try the "Co-opt Lent" thing again, though. It worked wonderfully last year.)

EXPLANATION
TL;DR )

So. Rules:
Rules, then )

Voila!
Book Log, 2009 )

READING RIGHT NOW:
The City & The City, China Mieville


PRIORITIZED FOR JAN 2010 *blush*
All the Windwracked Stars, Elizabeth Bear
To Ride Hell's Chasm, Janny Wurts (October "Beyond Reality" pick)
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party, M.T. Anderson
Fragments (African Writers Series), Ayi Kweh Armah


Sorta starting but not quite:
Mouse or Rat: Translation as Negotiation, Umberto Eco
The Philosopher's Apprentice, James Morrow
City of Saints and Madmen, Jeff VanderMeer
Nri Warriors of Peace, Chikodi Anunobi

indefinite hiatus )

comments welcome, but screened comments unscreened, now that it's over. ^__^


Annnnnd... see you later, this post! *waves fondly*
I am this close to putting the Al Aswany on Indefinite Hiatus as well. The translation is clunky and there are incredible stumbling blocks of the factual-error type in it that are far more annoying than Dajani overusing "Hispanic slang" to the point of Tourette's Foreignitis and making the Latina the "slut" with too much fire in her blood to cope and behave in non-self-destructive ways (which was still pretty stereotyped and over the top, but at least had a cumulative effect, so that you were mostly done with the book before you realized how annoyed you were. To be fair, Nadjani also had an Arab woman behave in self-destructive ways, and was good about showing how Palestinians, especially poor ones, are looked down on even by other Arabs, but it would be nice if the resultant self-destruction did not automatically equal TONS OF SEX, as though this were an '80s horror movie. And at least in '80s horror movies it was not all self-hating sex with people who didn't even like you).

"Chicago" is still a window into how we're seen by another culture, so I think I'll try to slog through, but it really needs to develop some sort of plot pretty soon, because I have Acacia to get to.

I must say I got a bit freaked by what I have been reading today, which might not make much sense, because I didn't blog about the bus driver I've been avoiding all winter since he stopped the bus (rather late at night) with only me on it and wouldn't let me off till I told him my name, which is NOT CUTE. The more things change, the more they don't really. Voila: "Nice Guys of the 1800s"


NO, THANK YOU, JOHN

I never said I loved you, John:
Why will you tease me day by day
And wax a weariness to think upon
With always "do" and "pray"?

You know I never loved you John;
No fault of mine made me your toast:
Why will you haunt me with a face as wan
As shows an hour-old ghost?

I dare say Meg or Moll would take
Pity upon you, if you'd ask:
And pray don't remain single for my sake
Who can't perform that task.

I have no heart? -- Perhaps I have not;
But then you're mad to take offence
That I don't give you what I have not got
Use your own common sense.

Let bygones be bygones:
Don't call me false, who owed not to be true
I'd rather answer "No" to fifty Johns
Than answer "Yes" to you.

Let's mar our pleasant days no more,
Song-birds of passage, days of youth:
Catch at today, forget the days before:
I'll wink at your untruth.

Let us strike hands as hearty friends;
No more, no less; and friendship's good:
Only don't keep in view ulterior ends,
And points not understood

In open treaty. Rise above
Quibbles and shuffling off and on:
Here's friendship for you if you like; but love --
No, thank you, John.


--Christina Rossetti
I am knee-deep in my very first Elizabeth Bear experience, and immersed in trying to figure out if it's more or less deep than I think it is.

Ink and Steel: A Novel of the Promethean Age (The Stratford Man). First half of a two-book novel. (Not separate enough to be a duology? I dunno, they keep marketing the fact that it's one book that got split in two.) The second half is (or -- in the context of my own progress -- "will be" in about half an hour) Hell and Earth. *glee*

Essentially I'm in the middle of a love story. I tend to despise those. This is why I'm every so often veering toward "less deep." I keep forgetting that it's a love story, and then it turns around and keeps being a love story at me.

But it's a historical love story between Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare. Who are making me CRY with the thwarted...holy moly. OMG! UST! With political intrigue and Inquisitions and deep binding hidden spells in England and Faerie. There is nation-preserving magic in the poetry. Playwrights -- though they never quite say it -- are mages. This is like genetically tailored TSUBAKI CRACK. So I am maybe not a reliable judge here.

There is an impending Hell Teind. O_o CRACK.

But she uses thee-thou-you properly (as it is, the historical equivalent of tu/vous -- tu/usted -- du/sie), which is objectively awesome. Conjugates the verbs right and all.* Nobody does that. I'm such a sucker for linguistics. Okay, yet again, not so reliable...


Last week, I finished The Secret Fruit of Peter Paddington, which is just...adorable. Incredibly cute. Cute and gross and misguided and innocently kinky. Not half the angst I was expecting given that it's the coming of age tale of a gay 13-year-old.

I love the voice, and the examples of freakish child logic, and the flights of fancy (or rather, extremely complicated rationalization). It comes to a natural end (strong indications of self-acceptance), if not a definite, cathartic finish, but the joy is in the journey, not the conclusion. It's a pleasure to spend a book inside this kid's mind. (As the author points out later -- he's not your romantically beautiful, nobody-suspects-me closeted kid, but as *I* enjoy, neither are there any harrowing bullying scenes. I suspect a degree of autobiography is going on.)

You will notice (Stefan) a distinct lack of Anathem finishing, here. There would be a reason for that, and the reason is that the book is heavier than my mom. I will get to it...soon.

----------------------------
*Shaddup. ^_____________^

Hey, Piers Anthony used to make "thee" and "thou" the FORMAL version. BACKWARDS. So there.
First and foremost: Quite so, Neil. Quite so.

"If you accept -- and I do -- that freedom of speech is important, then you are going to have to defend the indefensible. That means you are going to be defending the right of people to read, or to write, or to say, what you don't say or like or want said.

"The Law is a huge blunt weapon that does not and will not make distinctions between what you find acceptable and what you don't. This is how the Law is made. [...]

"Because if you don't stand up for the stuff you don't like, when they come for the stuff you do like, you've already lost."


Bought my membership last month. Have you? ^___^

-------------------

Sigh. For some reason I am having the WORST bitch of a time trying to get Summer Knight onto my FauxPod. Need "Summer Knight." I have finished the Tiffany Aching audio oeuvre, and frankly Star Trek: Spock vs. Q parts One and Two got old a good six years ago. Still funny, but old.

Software installed, device recognized, transfer...not an option. The hell?

>=(

(I may have to start HEARING other people on the subway. This cannot be!)

It was fairly cute -- this morning, some odd fellow became strangely entranced with the cover of my copy of "Ink and Steel" (Ink and Steel: A Novel of the Promethean Age (The Stratford Man)).

"That's beautiful," he said.
"Oh, um... yes," I said, because it occurred to me while I was talking that "Thank you," while reflexive, would be not only inappropriate, but kinda stupid.
"What's it about?" he asked.
"Oh... it's a sci-fi thing."
I admit, I said it so he would stop talking to me. It worked. (Hey, it wasn't a lie.)

Er... yeah. Writers of the world, it might not be the best of ideas to entrust me with your PR.
Sooooo.

Anathem... is gonna take work. (By which I also mean physical labor.)

It occurs to me that I'm seriously behind on the Stephenson oeuvre. I need to finish Cryptonomicon from I don't know how many years back (maybe four chapters in? Never take large books on vacation with you, especially not to a country where you speak the language -- if you are anything like me, you will be completely distracted by the twelve NEW books you've bought because you have no willpower and suck) and the System of the World series (half the first book, because aw, Baby Isaac Newton! But then he went away...).

It also occurs to me that I might not be the most sophisticated/patient of readers. Or something. I have quirks. I'm finding that if I invest enough chapters in a particular character, and then am suddenly jerked out of that character's POV, I'm... inclined to get distracted. Unless the new viewpoint character is equally as compelling and intricately drawn. Cryptonomicon pulled a trick on me that I very rarely get past on the first try nowadays -- it gave me an excellent and sympathetic character, then switched not only to an entirely different set of people, but an entirely different set of people IN THE MIDDLE OF A CONVERSATION. Way too easy to take a break. (This is probably my main prejudice with Queen's Bastard. That and the fact that the plot is way fluffier than it pretends to be. =/)

Maybe it is a patience thing, actually. I never used to leave a book unfinished, even if I hated it and it was boring me miserable. (Unless it was outright scary.) Come to think of it, I should probably regard this mental shift as a triumph.

I remember having a similar reaction to Cry to Heaven by Anne Rice (caveat: I was seventeen), developing two characters in tandem, but not interacting for (what I thought was) an incredibly long time, so that I was left wondering "Why are we hanging out with THIS fellow when it's actually the story of THIS OTHER fellow?" -- but we remained in the characters' respective heads, and so it worked, I guess. I might need to reread that one...

At any rate -- enjoying Anathem immensely so far, but if ANYTHING were to convert me to e-books, it will be this hardcover behemoth. I don't think it can even fit in my purse. I'd shout "What was I thinking?" and raise my hands in mock despair, except I know full well I wasn't willing to wait for the paperback. Not for this one. Patience again...

ADDENDUM: Hilarious D&D parody by writer/all-around nice fellow Jim Hines. If you've ever submitted anything for publication, or researched it, or thought about it, you'll cackle.
So... er... wow.

This kind of horror I can deal with -- not so much with the scary, definitely high with the thrill quotient.

I think I love this book. (Just finished it today; I've got to ruminate a bit more.) I think I may have liked it as much as "The Book Thief," if for entirely different reasons.

It's a very stark book, very chilly in atmosphere -- and again, I don't mean chilly = scary, but chilly as in there is very little warmth, either in the setting or between the characters, except for the two main characters, preteen Oskar, The Boy, and Eli, The Vampire who loves him, forever age 12. (They do love each other. Like crazy. It's not ever actually said, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

Oskar is the child of a single mom, has nosebleed and pants-wetting issues, and is brutally picked on in school. Eli is (apparently) the child of a single dad, skinny, sickly, improperly dressed for winter, preternaturally smart, and doesn't quite get the whole how-to-be-a-child thing, until reminded.

-- Vampires are NOT sexy here, for a change, and thank Jeebus. They are monsters -- trapped, miserable, brilliant, superhuman, scary, evil monsters. (There is a bit of angst. But it's Swedish-style angst. Not so flowery.) You do not finish this novel even REMOTELY tempted by the vampire lifestyle. Interestingly, no one gets vamped on purpose (although the epilogue is intensely opaque!! I'm almost annoyed. Not quite).
-- It's fascinating how nearly everyone gets a viewpoint. It makes it refreshingly difficult (not impossible) to sort out the "good guys" from the "bad."
-- Also fascinating (this is not a spoiler) how the nastiest, most irredeemable villains turn out to be eleven-year-old schoolboys, and not, say, the freaking PEDOPHILE. (Who is still pretty bad, but also pathetic. You sort of want him repaired, not killed. It brought me back, in an extremely tangential way, to the Babylon 5 episode where the worst criminals had their brains completely wiped and were reeducated and put into a monestary to do good works. I do wish that option were available, in life as in fiction, sometimes.)
--You get quite close to the end before you figure out if this is a tragic tale or not.

I've got to think this over more before I have anything really coherent to say (if indeed I do come back to it); for now, in short, I recommend it highly and absolutely must see the film now.

Next stop -- ANATHEM. Finally!


-------------
EDIT: Nah. Not as much as 'The Book Thief.' I didn't cry. 'TBT' had too many buttons it was pushing -- almost a cheat, really (a brilliant, brilliant, admirable cheat). And a nice plot device. I don't think there's anything particularly experimental in "Let the Right One In" -- it has to stand wholly on its own plot and prose. Okay, I'm getting excessively academic. Just... go read book I say.
IF I am properly responsible and actually go to sleep at a reasonable hour... I get to see the baaaaaaby. :-) (And The Secret of Roan Innish.)

My left arm has been asleep to semiasleep for like a full day now. That can't be good. Likely typing in a bad position. BUT -- at about, er, 1 o'clock this afternoon, I did in fact finish the manuscript I had started the previous day (not the one previously bitched about. This would be my first... hmm, well it's all technically freelance, but.. self-contracted? not via corporate? job. Er, first paid, uncharitable, mercenary, self-contracted, etc.).

And... it was... good. And unique. And a fun read. And had metaphors. And was hot, without once being stomach-turning or misogynist or referencing an electronic love prod. What is the world coming to, with no electric love prods??? I ask you. (Why doesn't THIS girl have an agent??? Fingers crossed she'll get one, please?)

In further news... Catherynne Valente on McCain

I am...really, really afraid of what's to come. I didn't feel like this in 2000, possibly because I was, er, young. Younger. I look back on this and I can't believe I found it exciting. Appalling, yes, and there was all the offense and outrage and let's-go-protest-in-DC, but also...summon-up-the-blood-ish, like I was living in the real world, finally, instead of some protected American ivory tower. (And none of us really had any idea of how outrageous it would get.)

Not so much now. I'm afraid of all possible outcomes, I'm afraid to believe in what I'm seeing that looks like progress, that looks positive... I have no trust at all.

Blah. Tomorrow, I actually have my holiday. With newborns called Gustavo (the irony, or rather, the eerieness of that is not escaping me). Bookpost later--nonfiction edition.

Emotional Bullshit (ARC)
Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage (got the new paperback, which is this title, but the older title [linked] gives a better summary of the book, I think. It could also be "how economics and politics shape society and values and how every change that comes about is not a sign of the damn apocalypse you #@*&*(#&$#(* ostriches." I enjoyed this book, can you tell?
13 Things That Don't Make Sense Sex is preposterous and giant DNA viruses are coming! Yes, I went shopping again. I think we've established I have no self-control, and I think we can all move on now. ~__^
I think I might not bother with Tropic Thunder.

If none of your publicity people, stars, or spokespersons, NOT ONE, have the thimbleful of sense required to say, coherently, in public, "We're not making fun of exploited people, we're making fun of the people who do the exploiting" (as opposed to "Don't be so sensitive, god, you're all so PC" to which I must respond, "Well then fuck you as well my good sir") then I really don't see why I shouldn't take my twelve dollars and buy a nice "Cuervo Gold margarita infused with habanero pepper and lime" at Uno's instead. (Cause those things are GOOD, let me tell you. You need to be into pepper, though.) How'm I supposed to trust you with multilayered satire when, when faced -- for example -- with picketing advocates for the handicapped, you can't put together the simplest of non-insulting sentences? When you are the actual PR person, whose job it is to put together the sentences beforehand??

I have gotten really uncharitable and impatient this year.

EDIT: (Oh who am I kidding, it's Robert Downey Jr.) (And I do know what they're after.) (But jeeze, their press chats so far have been STUPID. And not all that hard to fix.)

Anyway, book stuff.

I wanna get one of those swipy things where you can catalogue your books, CDs, and so on. Sadly, it appears that in order to get such a program (that is to say, one that actually works as advertised) I'd need a Mac. I do not have one. Ah well.

More Book Stuff. Lotsa Book Stuff. )
Creepy crawlies are plaguing my life.

I was gonna say insects, but there was a spider involved. *is prim* ^__^ )


In further life news... I'm starting to wonder if maybe confessing my exorbitant book purchases publicly will encourage me, via shame, to quit DOING that. When I was in college it was a point of pride among Lit/Law majors -- people would walk in, sort of smile/scowl contemptuously and say "Come on, have you actually READ all of those?" and in general we could all quite proudly go "Yes!" (And flip them off.) My collecting is outstripping my pride! I have enough to last me the rest of the year, at least...

(Enough books, I mean. Pride I dunno.)

So okay, shame: Yesterday, I bought:

The Explosionist by Jenny Davidson
Infoquake by David Louis Edelson
1491 by Charles C Mann
Halting State by Charles Stross
Lopsided by Meredith Norton

We will not mention the boxed DVD set(s). In my defense, they were marked down to $16.99 from $48 bucks for July 4th weekend. C'MON, IT WAS VERONICA MARS. And, um, other stuff...

I am being good though!!! -- I am waiting for the latest Jacqueline Carey, Jim Butcher, Graham Joyce, Simon Green, and Charles Stross in paperback. "Eternity Watch" does not count, since the Night Watch series is all in paperback anyway.*** I mean, I'm still waiting for it, but since the only other option is learning to read Russian it's not like I have a choice and doesn't speak so much to my moral fiber. ^___^ OkayandI'vesortofput thelatestKushielonorderatthelibrary.

(The Charles Stross is going to be a hard wait as I've already skimmed the first page: the suicidal ramblings of a pleasurebot drunk on battery acid...) Speaking of which, I think hard SF might be the last genre in which the use of first person does not send me screaming away, or at least give me pause for a few seconds. In a lot of genres (outside of YA, and barring real talent) it seems to be the first indicator of an oncoming huge, whiny, self-indulgent extravaganza (not always, of course, but I have prejudices). With SF, sometimes, the material is so esoteric and inherently distancing that the first-person becomes a crucial bridge.

Finished The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly last night.

I do quite well with things entitled "The Book Of [Something]," it seems. The Book of Joe, The Book of Joby, The Book of the Dun Cow... ^___^ (Look 'em up! Especially "Joe.")

Anyway, loved "Lost Things," not least because one of my fondest wishes is to someday be able to write a proper trickster. (The Crooked Man is more psychopathic serial killer than loveable Anansi or patron/caretaker Raven, though.) Loved the corruption and melding of fairy tales, the restoration of their original menace. Plus coming-of-age is generally fun, and Connolly has a lovely, deceptively simple writing voice, although I think bookshops who choose to put this one in the YA section are grossly mistaken (I got mine in SF/Fantasy where it belongs). I might gush more if all my gushing had not been done for me by all the "Connolly is the best thing since the wheel and fire!" blurbs on the book jacket, which always set you up for disappointment. Maaaaaaaybe the best thing since Laughing Cow cheese triangles. Which is no small praise, really.

One of the more disconcerting things about the book (the physical book, not the story within), which also turned out to be one of the cooler things about it: Around the last third of the paperback is reprints of all the fairy tales used in the book, some of which I'd never heard of before ("The Tale of the Three Surgeons"???), with author commentary and a bit of background on why he chose each one. (Essentially, dude has written me a midterm.) Disconcerting because you don't expect the end of the story to happen and you're budgeting your mental time for about 70 more pages with these characters you care about.

Am a couple chapters into "The Explosionist" (a YA), and not loving the writing style. Lots of telling and not showing when it comes to the main character's emotions, which is extremely stilted, especially in first-person. "I felt shy." "I became frightened." "I was fond of him." That the writer comes from a nonfiction background is quite clear. (And I don't buy that the younger intended audience justifies the too-direct style, either -- Gail Carson Levine's writing is poetry incarnate and her audience is in middle school. And have we DISCUSSED "The Book Thief"? Jesus.)

The premise, though, is quite fascinating -- there is a spate of suicide bombings going on in 1930s Edinburgh, in a world where Napoleon won at Waterloo and Scotland broke from the U.K. around the same time. There's some interesting political theory going on considering it's aimed at 15-year-olds. And girls doing math and physics! But I wouldn't be surprised if I got distracted midway.

Addendum: Speaking of books for girls, I think I love this woman.


*** Someone explain to me why series I like -- and have bought from six to nine installments of -- in paperback are now suddenly busting out with the hardcovers? Are they aware that this does not match? Are they trying to trigger OCD in addition to my random miserliness?

(Don't explain for real, I'm aware of the bottom-line of the business. But venting is psychologically sound practice. It's true!)

#### LOL! I just remembered that it was 6AM. So I slept with the light AND the sun on. For 1/2 hour. Ah well.
Tax guy: "Did you... READ all of those?"

Tax guy: "You know, some people just buy drugs."

Tax guy: "Well...yes, you are weird. But you COULD have blown $X on stuff that wasn't tax-deductible, so eh."Read more... )
Elizabeth Bear's take: "Well, duh."

Today is blog against torture day.
"Remember evil? We used to have evil.

We were against it."


EDIT:

Obsidian Wings on a disturbing case of U.S. Health Care

Excellent range of comments: What I appreciate there is that the practical focus is more dominant than theoretical/idealogical focus.



Because I am a BAD BAD GIRL: I am now the proud possessor of the just-released "The Dragons of Babel" by Michael Swanwick and "Lonely Werewolf Girl" by Martin Millar. Blame John Scalzi and Neil Gaiman, respectively.

Actually no, blame the Swanwick on me and me alone. When I was in college I picked up "The Iron Dragon's Daughter" in a used bookstore (GOD I miss D.C. sometimes). One of the most powerful and confusing things I ever read. Norman Spinrad levels of freaky and random and disturbing. How come Swanwick doesn't get credited more when people talk about the urban fantasy "boom"? This was 1994. University fey shoplifting in a mall where time runs faster than the outside world, final exams involve the consecration of one's own genitalia, and the spoiled darling of the Greek system is the year-end sacrifice in disguise? Oh, and Iron Dragons!
FREEDOOOOOMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!

And therefore I have ordered the Barry Hughart commemorative omnibus.

Tomorrow... Barnes and Noble. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I have no shame or remorse!!! Madhouse! Banana Fish! Locus magazine!!!!! Vellum and Mirador! THE DRAGONS OF BABEL!!!! My Hellblazer withdrawal is now at an end! AMAZON SHOPPING LIST!

eeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEE Graham Joyce has written something new!!!

Oh man. Oh dear. NOW I remember why I put the kibosh on this sort of thing for two months. =/

*chills out*
When does Lent start?

I think I may seriously need to consider observing it.

Shall I give up cookies, or buying books? The cookies I could actually do -- no bookbuying for 40 days might just destroy me. But I need to quit cold turkey. This is getting ridiculous. My floor is a maze. I have black and blue marks on my shins. And while I'm sure I will read them all eventually, the fact of the matter is I'm not doing it for lack of reading material, I'm doing it because standing in a bookstore makes me feel good and walking out with a stack in my hands is satisfying and cheers me up when I am, er, uncheery. (I buy more in winter, I always have.) It's more reliable than booze.

I do not want to have to take on manuscript work to support my book habit. That's dumb.

I won't do the Mass thing or the ash-cross on my forehead as I'm not actually Catholic and that would be disrespectful, I think, but the having of the deadline dates would be awesome...

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