I am astonished I am remembering to do this on the appropriate day of the week.Currently Reading:
As always, I am reading a dozen books with various levels of attention. The most compelling right now is my first reread since 2002 of The Riddle-Master of Hed
by Patricia McKillip. I am enjoying it, although not with the same white-hot passion as when I was younger; it is too simple for that, too much the unlayered straight line of plot despite the lovely things adorning it. Reading it now, I wonder if it was inspired by Earthsea? Regardless, it feels very much of its time (1976) in the way that there is a map and Morgon must go to almost each place on it so that the reader may tour the world. (In this it reminds me also of Nancy Springer, although in many other ways they do not seem alike -- but perhaps it was just the shape of some type of 1970s fantasy? And if so, where did this go in the 1980s?) McKillip writes it well and I do not mind the tour, but I am curious to see how she shapes the plot in the second and third books; I remember how much I loved them but very little else.
On my ipad I am constantly reading The New Yorker, always about three weeks behind the current issue; I enjoy almost all of it very much, and the occasional article that is too annoying I blithely skip. I also dip into the archives occasionally, reading through the early issues from 1925, finding little gems like comedy columns from Julius H. Marx and the occasional poem that stays with me. I am curious to see how the magazine changes over time, although if I tried to read every issue that has ever been published it would take me about twenty years at my current rate -- perhaps much longer, the early issues are so short. But I am enough of a completist that the idea appeals, even though it is a little ridiculous.
Finally, I am partly through a biography of Carrington by Gretchen Gerzina -- not very well done, I think, but I have not read many biographies, and it is the only one that exists, so I keep reading. I like it when it quotes her letters, but when she talks about how at nineteen Carrington was just like any other teenager -- is teenager not a social construct which did not exist yet in 1910? I might be wrong, but there are so many such moments that I end up not trusting the flow of the book. Just Finished: Child of Fire
by Harry Connolly, the first of the Twenty Palaces books. It has so much good in it, but I am just not the target audience for these books. They seem to me like an exceptionally good example of their genre (paranormal noir), Connolly neither pulls punches nor lingers over the grotesque, the protagonist is very realistic both in his willingness to do violence and his intense discomfort with it afterwards -- and yet, I end up skimming over pages and pages of action scenes, not caring about the details of who hides where and shoots with what, or how clever our hero/anti-hero is with the use of objects, or anything like that. But if you like that genre, by all means read these, because Connolly is masterful in his use of incluing and he does not care a whit if the reader is somewhat confused; his protagonist is confused as well, those with power are not sharing much information, and there is a large backstory shared only in the smallest bits and pieces.
(I am reminded by rachelmanija
that these books do contain bad things happening to children, although not in my mind gratuitously or done as misery tourism. But mileage, of course, varies.)Up Next:
The rest of the McKillip trilogy, once I finish the first one. I have the other two Twenty Palaces books also, and in a way I want to read them because I liked Ray Lilly and I found the world fascinating, but will I just end up skipping a lot of pages of action again? And if so, is that any reason not to read them in the way that I will find the most satisfactory? I always feel vaguely guilty, the author put those words there for a reason, and yet -- my time is so finite.
I have Jane Hirshfield's third collection of poems, The October Palace
, waiting for me at home, but in order to read poetry I really must be alone and quiet, so it keeps getting put aside. Tonight, perhaps, if I am lucky. I love to read poetry but it is like the richest chocolate, one or two at a time and then a long time to digest, which is sometimes frustrating when there is so much poetry in the world. An embarassment of riches, I suppose.