Friday, April 02, 2010

What I read: March, 2010

"The Man from St. Petersburg" Ken Follett. Oh. My. God. I read it because we had two copies lying around. Ick. This book made me feel dirty. I made some negative comment about this book to my sister, who repled "I've read every book he's ever written." I think she's mad at me now.
This book was all tell, no show. There was no tension. The sex was funny. It reminded me of my dad's novel. It seemed well-researched, from what I can tell. When my friend said that of my karate-zombie novel, I took it as damning with faint praise, so there you go. There was no female character with whom I could identify. Or male character, for that matter. I don't need a woman to be a role model. I really strongly disliked this book.

"Wanderlust" Rebecca Solnit. I'd come across her name in a discussion of the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, and came across this when I was looking for her other book on the TPL website. As walking is an integral part of my creative process, of course I was interested. I was afraid this book was going to be a slog, but I was regularly surprised by how quickly it went. It made me think how lucky I am to live where I do. In Britain, a lot of places you can't walk because the land is privately owned; in a lot of times and places women especially were thought to be questionable if they walked, especially if they walked alone, that I live in an inner suburb, so it's not so bad as being in a genuine suburb for walking, but made me want to move closer to the centre of the city. Interestingly, the book confirmed some of Ken Follett's heavy research -- e.g., Mrs. Pankhurst, a suffragette leader in Britain in the 1910's. The section on urban environments, especially, reminded me of "Palimpsest". Sometimes when I read non-fiction, I find the book getting repetitive after the first third or so. Not this one. She had enough material, covered in enough depth. Solnit's sentences were nicely crafted, and the book was well-structured. I highly recommend this book.

"Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins. The boy got this for Christmas and then lost Hunger Games, so he bought that himself so he could read it again before reading this. I did not do that. I keep getting emails from "My good friend Heather Reisman" about the third book in the series, which I can pre-order now, coming out August 24. My favorite part was the second email, now with a title: Mockingjay. That's a surprise (not). I picked it up and started reading, and realized it's written in first person present. So's my karate zombie novel! So it can be successful!
I didn't read "Hunger Games" again before starting this one, and the only thing I kept wondering about was the bit about the poison berries. It was good, but not as good as the first. The ending left me a little unsatisfied, and not just because I have to wait for the sequel, but because I wish there were more clues about what had been really going on coming up on the last chapter, like the way in the first book I spent so much time yelling at Katniss not to be so dense. I wanted more of that feeling of being smarter than her in this one, and I didn't get it, and that made me sad. I wonder if the boy got that, though? I should ask him.

"Monstrous Affections" by David Nickle. Bought this at the signing in Toronto in November (or was it October?). Once I knew who he was, his name started cropping up everywhere, which amuses me. He co-wrote something with Karl Schroeder and was thanked in the Karl S. book I read last month, he's mentioned on Scalzi's blog and Making Light with regard to the whole Peter Watts debacle. He's at Ad Astra. Anyway, the stories are good.

OWW: One short story (I also read a story by one of my VP classmates). I need to practice this reviewing thing more. Once a week? Is that achievable? the story I chose, the author had a specific writing problem she wanted reviewers to address. That was easier than just reading a story with a vague admonition to point out any flaws. Maybe I will use this as my approach to reviewing in the future.

Today in research
Bought two books: "Creating Language Crimes" by Roger Shuy
"The Book of Jubilees" which is an apocrypha, or maybe a pseudepigraphia

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