Jun. 7th, 2015

chalcedony_cat: fan from the v&a (Default)
I am avoiding your entries, dear fellow journal-writers, because I do not want to know who won Eurovision, which tells me I ought to prioritise watching Eurovision very soon indeed.

Wednesday was full of sturm und drang and therapy in which same was identified and some peace made -- all of which is very well, exceedingly well, but not at all like writing a long catch-up reading post. And next Wednesday Joy and I go to the eye-doctor and beforehand to a park and afterwards to Starbucks while we wait for our eyes to un-dilate and she will have a 'cake pop' as a treat if they still have them, and if not I'm sure we can find something. Again, likely very well, but not the long catch-up reading post. But right now my in-house partner has taken both children on the train to the farmer's market, and our housemate has just left to go see friends further north, and so for the next half hour at the very least I have the house altogether to myself, quite unusual. I am drinking coffee and listening to The Pogues, and it seems an ideal time to write about books.

Semi-Recently Finished: First, a great deal of manga; I finished the whole of Takaya Natsuki's Fruits Basket after spending over a year at it, and was quite well rewarded. I have never seen any other manga tackle something so complex as how people can emerge from an abusive family system through survival into actual rich life, and that it started off as a light-hearted comedy about cute boys who turn into animals when you hug them -- well. I have been considering how to write about this series, really write about it, not a paragraph here or even reviews of individual volumes on Goodreads, but how to write about the thematic concerns and the way that she uses the space of the series (23 volumes!) to engage with these questions from a wide variety of angles, with sympathy and compassion but without letting anyone off the hook -- everyone has to grow up, or break trying. A truly amazing series, I hope I can find the right form for analysing it in writing.

None of the other manga I read was that extraordinary, but then, I did not expect it to be. I am enjoying Barakamon, about a young man who is living on a rural island learning to appreciate the culture and community there -- it feels good just as one would expect, and why not? I also liked Whispered Words, in some ways a much more realistic look at teenage girls dealing with their attractions to other girls than any other manga I've seen -- but the last volume suffered a lot from a lack of copyediting which is a pity. Then a handful of other things loaned to me by friends, various shoujo romance series that I enjoyed but did not leave much of a trace. Manga is excellent for reading when I am sick, or attending on sick children, most of it does not suffer when interrupted the way that a good novel or rich biography does.

Finally, I read two books worth mentioning since last I posted. One was actually a collection of plays, Three American Plays by Laurence Stallings and Maxwell Anderson. I read it for the first one, "What Price Glory?", which The New Yorker of 1925 repeatedly trumpted as the best play about the war the writers had encountered. To me it read fairly grim, humorous but black, a lot of hatred, but after reading it I see that it was made into comedic movies and those movies had sequels and so on and so forth, so I am ... mystified, I suppose. I wonder what it was like when first performed, if it was considered a comedy, if the rivalry between the two men was seen as funny-and-awful or just funny? I really cannot imagine. I liked reading it, though, and the other two plays ("First Flight" and "The Buccanneer") were interesting as well.

The other book was just last night, Seventeen by Liz Rosenberg, subtitled "A Novel in Prose Poems" which subtitle seems rather unnecessary, it is just a novel and quite a good one, but I suppose as it is for a YA market it was felt necessary to warn the readers that they were not just getting a straightforward unadorned narrative? Stylistically, yes, some passages are poetry, but many are just prose. Regardless, it was very good; it is a girl's emotional arc through a school year as she has her first romance, learns some of bodily desire, struggles with her mother's mental illness and her own fears of adulthood, and all through it just shows, it does not explain, there are no resolutions, no epiphanies, just life beautifully told. I could imagine giving it to Joy when she is much, much older. I will look for more by Rosenberg.

Currently Reading: I have just started Soon I Will Be Invincible, Austin Grossman's superhero novel. I read a lot of superhero comics in the late 80s and early 90s, so I am familiar with all the tropes, and both interested and amused to see what he does with them. I picked it up right after I finished Seventeen last night, in the hopes it would be strong but cross-grained, and it is just that, a very different feel but surely written so I can trust it.

Up Next: I only discovered the existence of Life in Squares yesterday morning and I am intrigued and uneasy in equal measure -- can it possibly be good enough to satisfy me? And that actor playing Lytton Strachey, doesn't he look about fifty times too ruddy and healthy? And anyway, given that it is on the BBC, how long will I have to wait until I can watch it here? But as one might imagine, this has renewed my desire to dive back into the Strachey/Carrington books I have piled up in the bedroom, and my library time ran out for the Hyakunin Isshu books, so I think June will be a Bloomsbury month. Although with that being said... I realised during my sturm und drang earlier this week that I had fallen into old bad habits of reading things because I 'felt like I should' or because I had started them and could not give up even when they were obviously terrible -- all of which really stems from using reading to avoid my own self, to keep myself from thinking or being present or feeling all the worry about my long-distance partner's younger son who is having frightening medical issues. So -- enough of that, I will read what I feel like reading, and right now I feel like Bloomsbury, but if tomorrow I feel like something else, I will do that instead. And only the good books, life is just too short.

My family is back from the farmer's market with peaches and strawberries, so I must go.

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