chalcedony_cat: fan from the v&a (Default)
The difficulty with having done Wednesday reading on a Friday is that I keep thinking, didn't I just do this? Well, more or less, yes. But it is not as though I have stopped reading.

Just Finished: Heir of Sea and Fire, the second book of McKillip's Riddlemaster trilogy. I did like the first, but I liked this more, although it still feels... simple? I do not quite have the words for it, but what is happening is the thing that is happening, there are not other things also happening. It seems like these might make excellent YA novels, with the lovely prose, the large emotions, everything always at a fever pitch, and yet a very, very simple plot and the questions at hand not easy to resolve, but easy to understand. It will be another 8 or so years before Joy is ready for such books, at a guess, but I am looking forward to when she is.

I read Ben Aaronovitch's Foxglove Summer in under a day, I think, and loved it. I don't seem to look for 'fun' very much in my reading (or my life, come to that, something to consider), but his novels are quite fun and this one was the best yet. A pity that a degree in Rural Land Management would require moving to the British Isles, I actually think I might love that. (And it is not at all unlike what my sister-in-law does for her work, so obviously I could go a different route and do that sort of work right here, except I am just not emotionally involved in this landscape... and why I should be emotionally involved in a landscape I've only seen once is a deep mystery, I blame too much early reading of Watership Down, but there it is, I am not a rational person.)

Currently Reading: The New Yorker, of course. Up to August of 1925 in the archives, and still about a week behind the current issue. I suppose it ought to show up in the above section too, but I never of being done, finishing an issue just means another issue to go, and I am still really enjoying it.

Harpist in the Wind, the final McKillip in the trilogy. It is more complex than the first two, and I am enjoying it the most, and I hope it holds up through the end. Considering it a little more, I think one reason it feels like it would make good YA is that there is such surprise in the narrative when people are not consistent -- when a person first does a cruel thing and then does a kind one, as though people are all one thing or another.

I have happily given up on Connolly's Twenty Palaces novels; I will see if I like his fantasy any better. He is clearly a competent writer, it is just that these books are not what I like to read.

Up Next: I realised that I needed to prioritise my larger projects or I would never get anywhere with them, so the Strachey/Carrington project is set aside for a month or so while I spend time with the Hyakunin Isshu, a collection of 100 Japanese waka which is the basis for a semi-popular Japanese card game, as featured in the anime Chihaya Furu which I am currently watching. The anime is charming and I am enjoying it very much, but it is the poems themselves which have really caught me, so I am sitting down to give them proper attention. I cannot read classical Japanese (or modern Japanese except at the most basic level), but translations abound, and I have happily acquired six or seven different translations, plus some useful webpages, and a really amazing pictorial reception history (Pictures of the Heart by Joshua S. Mostow) and am enjoying beyond measure the chance to get to know these poems and the poets. I have not quite decided yet but I am thinking of doing a poem a week, here (or maybe in the I-am-a-writer blog... but probably here) with my favourite of the translations and a little bit of the history and all, just because... why not? Although a poem a week is almost two years, so we will see. It is just the sort of project which I would start and not finish and I am rather tired of doing that.
chalcedony_cat: fan from the v&a (Default)
I spent Wednesday having brunch and conversation with my friend C., and driving back and forth to same, and then of course the parenting etc -- thus, no time to post here.

Just Finished: The Riddle-Master of Hed by Patricia McKillip. Morgon is such a classic reluctant hero, spending the majority of the book trying to escape the plot. And if I was (re)reading this without the second and third volume to hand, I would have found the ending really annoying.

Currently Reading: Still The New Yorker, now down to only a week behind the current issue. It makes me hungry to travel, listen to new music, read different books, try many new things -- all in all a great good.

Heir of Sea and Fire, being the next McKillip. I think I applaud her for refusing to match genre expectations and making the scenic women into the main characters of the second novel, but ... it feels somewhat thin. A lot of talk about how beloved Morgon is, but it is unclear why he would be, except authorial fiat. Still, I like the language and I like the characters and I have no desire to put it down.

I had started on Game of Cages which is Harry Connolly's second novel about Ray Lilly, but then aforementioned friend C. gave me Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch and I couldn't resist starting it instead. It is the same genre, but Aaronovitch is funny; perhaps he can afford to be as I think his characters have script immunity and Connolly's clearly do not.

Up Next: I finally found my copy of Michael Holroyd's biography of Lytton Strachey (the updated 1994 version), but also Strachey's letters and Carrington's letters, and I am planning to sit down with all of these and read them all at the same time, to supplement the very annoying Gretchen Gerzina biography of Carrington that I mentioned last week.

I am astonished by just how many books about Bloomsbury I own, and how consistent my interest in these people have been (almost 20 years now) and also somewhat embarassed by how many of these books I have never yet got around to reading. Now is the time, I suppose.
chalcedony_cat: fan from the v&a (Default)
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 [personal profile] 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.

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