Friday, June 02, 2017

What I read -- May 2017



“Nights at the Circus” by Angela Carter. It’s hard to say what I expected from this. I guess I thought it was going to be somehow “literary” and therefore difficult. It  was a delightful read, though when I got to the end I did google to find out what other people thought of Fevver’s last statement there. Sometimes I feel like maybe I’ve missed something, but apparently not.

In a panel about “fractured fairy tales” at Ad Astra, a fellow audience member said “I’m surprised no one has mentioned Angela Carter,” and I almost whipped this out to say “hey, I’m a cool kid.”

As an aside, “I’m surprised no one has mentioned…” is a phrase maybe one shouldn’t say when one is in the audience at a panel, especially when the panel started like 10 minutes ago. Or maybe it was the tone. It just sounds like you think everyone up there is more stupid than you. But maybe literary SF conventions aren’t where I should expect refined social skills.

I kept wondering, how do you even edit something like this? Especially when in the “Siberia” section it switches from first to third person paragraph by paragraph, what do you even do?

“Salt to the Sea” by Ruta Sepetys. The problem with having a 28-book long list at the public library is that I forget, sometimes, why I wanted to read something. Such was it with this. Whenever I add a book, I try to get out the one that’s been on my list the longest. Sometimes I cheat and choose something near the top that’s short or timely, but sometimes I just take whatever’s lined up. That’s why I read this now.

The first chapters were too short, and that made it hard to get into the story. I had to start over a few times. But once I got into it, the thriller pacing worked just fine. The characters were great, and the subject matter was really interesting for a YA novel: the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, greatest maritime disaster in history that no one knows anything about it. So anyway, having requested it last year sometime, I forgot that’s what it  was about, and the ending was probably a greater surprise for me than for most people. The cover, with its forlorn lifepreserver, suggested someone would drown, but other than that, I had no clue. That might have added to my enjoyment, actually.

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