I started grad school and am much busier this year than I have been in a while. The blog is likely to be the least of my priorities.
Here’s the book list for last month:
Alchemy and Alchemists – C.J.S. Thompson
Interesting and esoteric the best chapters are full of anecdotes from the lives of various alchemists.
Trafalgar – Angelica Gorodischer
Reads a bit like sitting in a cafe with your grandmother’s youngest brother, the great uncle that traveled everywhere and never seems to stop smoking, drinking coffee, or holding your interest with the accounts of his adventures.
Fremder – Russell Hoban
This book is a beautiful sloppy mess of Science Fiction. It’s one of those books I can crack open at random and just get hit by the prose all over again all. Dig:
“Maybe for some people the business of knowing who and what and when and where they are is simple; not for me. The past and the present flicker together in my mind and it isn’t easy to sort through the different strands of story to find one that is only mine.”
“A373 and Badr al-Budur are two of the quiet places in my head. I like sometimes to think of Pearl speaking in my mother’s voice under the red Isis moon and I like to think of the robot sweepers humming through the silence of the spaceport under the noctolux lamps of Badru.”
The Company – K.J. Parker
Ugh. A hard slog. There are parts of Parker’s fiction I really like, and parts I hate. Everyone ends up having a secret and whichever secret winds up being important to the plot hardly matters (or I could care less). In between the whole story is shown in a matter-of-fact fashion where everything, past, future, interior, exterior has the same emotional weight and the whole novel loses its intensity. Maybe if it were 100 pages shorter, it would actually read like a novel.
Cogan’s Trade – George V. Higgins
An obliquely plotted crime novel with well-observed details and crackling dialogue. The ability for so many people to say so little while saying so much is amazing. Especially interesting of your family is like mine and enjoys playing six degrees of Whitey Bulger.
Ammonite – Nicola Griffith.
Loved it. The book’s a “classic” SF adventure story mixed with interesting world building of the LeGuin sort. A fun read.
The Queen, The Cambion, and Seven Others – Richard Bowes
A great collection of modern fantasy stories and warped fairy tales with Arthur and his Knights, Merlin and Queen Victoria, animal helpers, and the Kingdom Under the Hill – all are here and familiar, but subverted in interesting and refreshing ways. Definitely recommended.
The Enemy Within: A Short History of Witch-Hunting – John Demos
A decent overview of “witch-hunting” from Roman times up to the 1980s with a focus on Europe and America and lots of details on the Colonial era “witch-hunts”. Demos uses the term “witch-hunt” in a particular way, so brings up the various Red Scares in US history and the day care scandals of the 1980s. An enjoyable read if you’re into that sort of thing.