Miscellany

Dec. 27th, 2012 09:00 pm
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (misc girl reading)
1. Merry Christmas and/or best wishes for whatever holiday you celebrate <3 I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.

2. I spent my Christmas semi-camping in a valley in Wanganui. The weather was ungodly hot which was nice for three days (but couldn't have stood it much longer). It was in a funny place with two so-called cabins, one of which was really pretty nice where my parents stayed and one of which was basically a garden shed where my brother and sister and I slept (in sleeping bags on skanky mattresses on a rather dusty floor ... but mustn't grumble, and much better than tents, truly). There was a cooking area with running (but not hot) water and a solar shower which was totally exposed to the elements - which was actually sort of fun since it was just family there (and the shower was way off round the side so it's not like people were coming past all the time or anything). There was a sort of lake which you could kayak on but not swim in (I daresay swimming wouldn't have killed you, but it was kinda brown and mucky) - somewhere to swim would have improved the ambiance immensely, I must say. Anyway, for a few days it was quite fun and I didn't murder anyone and only had one everyone-crying miserable fight with my mother, which is pretty good for us. We all read a lot and played a bunch of cards (completely shockingly considering my family, we're actually pretty good at not fighting over cards).

We did have a little bit of excitement. On Christmas day the running water stopped running. It later transpired that the line that ran to fill the tank had had a break in it and so we'd run down the tank and it hadn't got refilled. This was a bit of a test for everyone as it involved rather a lot of water conservation (the shower was still running and we used this to fill a lot of water bottles, the kettle, etc. And flushed the loo with lake water).

Then on the day we were supposed to leave, we packed everything up, and Dad took Mum and Helen (staying with us, had her own car) up to Helen's car. Now the valley we were staying in was reachable only by a narrow and rather slippy dirt road, which was fine when we came down because it had been dry. However, when Dad had gotten up there it began to BUCKET down, and H and F and I were all still in the valley with our stuff. We hung out and played cards for awhile - I got crushed at P&A, a game I used to be unbeatable at :( - until the guy who runs the cabins came roaring down on a quad bike and picked us and our stuff up (took two goes). This journey was sliiightly terrifying, sitting on the back of a quad bike (having just read that health and safety report that went on about how dangerous they are) clinging onto my stuff AND the bike and fairly ROARING up some steep and muddy hills in a pine forest - not on the track, because that would have been too slippery. When it was over it was quite fun, but fairly scary doing it.

3. I stocked up my Kindle intensely in preparation, but ended up mostly binge-re-reading Chrestomanci books. I did read Shades of Milk and Honey and Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal. These are professionally published Austen fanfic with the serial numbers filed off in a with-magic AU. (NB: I'm not sure whether they were ever published as fanfiction, but I would assume so after this series of tweets:



)

The magic is called "glamour" and is confined to various visual, auditory and olfactory illusions (they can also do hot and cold, but it's implied that these are very difficult and take a lot of energy). It's also considered to be mostly a female art. I found them quite delightful although I should add that they don't have the depth of Austen in terms of the social satire or wit. Good fun as romances though. (And "not as good as Austen" is rather praising with faint damns, if you see what I mean.)

4. I'm also working my way through The Game by Ken Dryden, which is a memoir about the author's last season in the NHL - he was the starting goalie for the Habs in an era where they won a BUNCH of Stanley Cups, and he retired at 31 when he was still an extremely good goalie (which although I don't have a real great sense of it I think is pretty unusual for hockey players generally). I'm struggling to remember if I've ever read a non-fiction book about sports before and I'm pretty sure I haven't. Anyway, it gives a whole lot of really interesting and entertaining information as well as being an interesting portrait of the dude himself and is pretty well-written on the whole (I'm having a bit of trouble with the way the tenses are structured, but I think this might be a formatting issue - I bought the Kindle version and I think possibly some paragraphs that should be indented or set aside aren't).

5. Other stuff I'm reading: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (nowhere near as captivating as Middlesex) and Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (just started it, no opinion yet).

6. I was going to talk briefly about food but this post feels long already. What are you reading? How was your Christmas or other holiday? Isn't not having to go to work blissful, those of you who are on holiday still?
labellementeuse: an icon of river song, one arm stretched out, holding/pointing a gun ready to fire. (dw bamf)
Linky link: [personal profile] eruthros is doing a version of the NPR list with nominations from fandom. Go, play! It is difficult! (I do sort of wish she wasn't including other media, though, that would have made life easier.)
labellementeuse: animated icon with shots from various fantasy novels or flicks followed by "fantasy. what more do you want?" (misc fantasy pride)
I hate to be all looking-at-fandom-like-it's-a-zoo-exhibit but here are some things I learned tonight:

1. There are people out there writing 450,000-word The Faculty fic - which is a sequel to a 250,000-word fic.

2. People still write 200,000-word Harry Potter fic. Also, Queer as Folk and LOTRPS are both still things. (Seriously?!) (Although I have to say that I saw this youtube clip the other day and I was a solid foil tinhat for a good sixty seconds.)

3. There are just shedloads of fandoms out there that not only do I not know about, I haven't even heard of their source (I think they're all computer games and anime, like Kingdom Hearts and Vampire Knight. OK I've heard of Kingdom Hearts but not really. Stuff I recognise but never knew there was a fandom for: Dragon Age, Final Fantasy (many numbers), JAG (?!!!)).

3.1 Someone needs to clean up AO3 fandoms - there's a Weiss Kreuz and a WeiƟ Kreuz.

4. As far as I can see there isn't a way to browse the AO3 by wordcount. You can search all stories and view by wc but as far as I can tell that only gets you the most recent 1000 fics, sorted by wc - and it turns out there are a lot of Russian-novel-length fics for fandoms I've never heard of.

5. This is annoying when you're in the mood I am, viz: "I want to read something between 30,000 and 100,000 words and slashy and I don't really care what fandom as long as I vaguely recognise people but also, the writing has to be good." Any recs along these lines gratefully appreciated, and if they happen to be in fandoms with which I'm familiar, bonus! (This is a massively weird mood. I sort of feel like I could go for some Ron/Draco. um? Please send other pairings?)

6. Relatedly, does anyone have any recs for books with gay protagonists? I just really am in the mood to read about people who aren't heterosexual for a change. Warning, I don't usually read commercial romance novels. I could probably go chicklit if it was, you know, lesbian chick lit. Also nothing too depressing please. *bats eyelashes* ty.

7. Speaking of, a few weeks ago I read Mission Child and then China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F McHugh - [livejournal.com profile] shoelessgirl lent me the former and then I hustled off and bought the latter from Arty Bees. I liked them both ENORMOUSLY and I can't recommend them enough - terrific, terrific science fiction, controlled, character-focused writing and plots, truly compelling characterisation and situations. Highly recommended. I believe there may still be a copy of one or the other at Arty Bees, although I can't recommend her third book, Half the Day is Night, because I got a third of the way in and stalled unhappily. (Not enough sex, probably.)
labellementeuse: a picture of Fraser from due south. he is wincing and tugging at his collar. (dS awkward!)
DD has just released the name of the next YW book: Games Wizards Play. I'm pretty excited, NGL (even though it probably won't be out for another ... year at minimum, probably more like two). She's also going to release a blurb tomorrow so I'll save up any commentary until then, but there's also a thing where if you retweet this tweet you may win one of five cameos in the book - which I find interesting because she said there'll be a bunch of bonus wizard cameos, not as many as W@W but still a few. Which is pretty neat because I love those scenes, like the one at Gili Motang in WoM, too. (Sudden re-read craving!)

I've gone through three Connie Willis novels in the last month - Blackout, All Clear and The Doomsday Book. I read a couple of books by her last year and am really digging her work - should have listened to whoever it is on the YW forums who recs them all the time years ago, apparently. (I think it's Kathy Li, who has impeccable taste in everything.)

The landlord is redoing our bathroom. This is great because it was a mess, but crap because we don't have a shower and have to flush the loo with buckets and also the place is a mess because the builder is apparently not into dropcloths or anything. He also ruined a towel we laid down to catch the massive leak that runs along an internal doorframe by standing on it in his boots (like, it was filthy). grrrr. OTOH, hopefully the leak will also be fixed. And the bathroom. And the kitchen. And then I'll be able to actually have people around without blushing.

Finally caught up on Doctor Who after realising that tumblr was not going to let me stay unspoiled until September (;.;). SCREAM. I cannot cannot CANNOT wait until September.
labellementeuse: kristen stewart in a blazer & really emo eyeshadow (misc gaystew army)
I feel like such an absentee LJ-er at the moment. I'm barely commenting (but I am reading and I still love you guys, honest). I'm tweeting a lot of boring tweets, for those of you who might want to keep up with me in micro form, but the energy needed to do a LJ post - even a boring blah blah one - seems a little beyond me right now, and I also don't really have anything to talk about.

Except that's not really true, here are some things I've done in the past couple months:

- Got a job. Been in a job for a month.

- Started dating a lovely young woman. (ETA: Says it all:
).

- Read eleventy billion words of Inception fanfic. I have delicioused some of my favourites here, although I'm pretty crap at deliciousing so it's not comprehensive.

- Maybe, possibly, read a few H50 stories. I. YOU GUYS. IDK. I stand Morally Opposed to another freaking buddy cop show getting all the slash time. and I have loved some buddy cop show fandoms in my time!

- only read like three new books this year. TERRIBLE. I feel sick thinking about it. But today I got a bunch of new books out from the library - Kehua! by Fay Weldon, The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi, Double Vision by Tricia Sullivan, Wildseed by Octavia Butler, Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett (got to fit a re-read in there somewhere), and Natural History by Justina Robson. I'm pretty hopeful that I will be energised to read these ones, I'm excited.

I got the Justina Robson mostly because I saw it on the shelf and it's the next book to be discussed at Torque Control. After an extensive discussion of women in SF late last year, Torque Control has been doing a thing where they review and discuss the top ten SF books by women in the last decade. Anyway, I've only gotten a couple chapters in, but it's making me think a lot of things about disability, ablism, bodies, and, you know ... Anne McCaffrey's Ship series. (Also that post-Otherland short story Tad Williams wrote for Legends, "The Happiest Dead Boy in the World". That scene with Orlando's parents? Yeah.) So if anyone has any links for discussion about that I'd really love to hear them.

Anyway. I'm going to try to LJ/DW a bit more because I miss you guys. How are you all?
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
I only have six more books to read this year before I'll have officially read 100 books this year (not including books I'd read before, novel-length fanfic, or comics I read as single issues; including trades and cover-to-cover poetry). I'm half-way or more than half-way through Hallucinating Foucault by Patricia Duncker, Dead People's Music by Sarah Laing, Going Bovine by Libba Bray and Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon and I've read just over half of the stories in the (admittedly giant-sized) James Tiptree, Jr anthology Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. (I think I've raved about this anthology before, but it is just fucking amazing. You need it in your life if you like any of these things: a) speculative fiction b) women c) intelligent death-plagues d) neat clean smart brilliant writing.)

Despite this, yesterday and today I binge-read Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson's Towers of Midnight. And I do mean binge: started it late in the evening, read til 5 am, woke up at 11, read til 5 pm. (Mini, non-spoilery review: a) Everyone's awesome again! b) Brandon Sanderson Gets Plot-Related Shit Done. Coming from the perspective of someone who no longer cares about prophecies, who killed Asmodean, or what exactly that one dream Egwene had one time means, this is basically 100% of everything I'm looking for in Wheel of Time books now: a rehabilitation of my favourite characters after they were all progressively Spikified, and to know what happens to them and ideally that they all live happily ever after. Spoiler: Nynaeve does not cry soppily in this book. It's terrible to feel that Sanderson is writing these people as more in-character than Jordan was in the last three or four books, but that is kind of how I feel.)

Anyway the problem is that now, instead of picking up the millions of books I'm part-way through, I'm instead fondling the beautiful-looking A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse as well as 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson and A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer, which frankly has a hideous cover but I could quite go for some silly epic fantasy that won't take me the rest of the year to read (Traitor's Gate by Kate Elliot is at the bottom of my to-read pile propping the rest of it up...). Also I have Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X Stork and The Edge of the Alphabet by Janet Frame out from the library.

So you guys should tell me what to read! You always give me good advice.

Poll #5323 What should Tui read next?
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 4


For god's sake, finish ...

View Answers

Her Smoke Rose Up Forever
0 (0.0%)

Hallucinating Foucault
1 (25.0%)

Dead People's Music
0 (0.0%)

Going Bovine
1 (25.0%)

Wonder Boys
2 (50.0%)

You have these books out of the library, prioritise them ...

View Answers

The Edge of the Alphabet
0 (0.0%)

A College of Magics
3 (100.0%)

Marcelo in the Real World
0 (0.0%)

Forget all of those, read ...

View Answers

A Novel Bookstore
0 (0.0%)

13 Little Blue Envelopes
0 (0.0%)

Actually you should read this book:



What are you reading lately?
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead, is a middle-grade novel that is yet another reminder of the fact that some of the most beautiful and precisely elegant writing being done today is being done for children and young adults. Children do not tolerate wasteful writing and, like Bloomability, Bridge To Terabithia, The World Around the Corner and The Giver before it, When You Reach Me is a perfect example of how this leads to writing that is not merely nice or thoughtful but refined and artful.

It is 1978. Miranda is 12 years old. She lives with her mom in New York. Her favourite book is A Wrinkle In Time and her best friend just stopped speaking to her. Then Miranda starts getting notes from the future. When You Reach Me is the letter Miranda writes back.

excerpt under the cut )

Read this book - another addition to my list of great middle-grade novels. I don't even want to be a writer, but if I could write like Stead, I think I would.

Wolf Hall

Aug. 5th, 2010 10:11 pm
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (and she's buying a)
So I finally finished reading Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel, which I have been working on on and off since the beginning of this year. I really struggled with it, and I think at some point I'm going to work up a post to articulate why, but here are the Cliffs Notes:

- I found this book incredibly absorbing but incredibly alienating.

- I think this is because the conceit of the book - a close third person, with a POV character who seems to think entirely in metaphors and memories - is so overly clever that I'm tempted to call it conceited. (Ha ha.)

- Like, sometimes it's beautiful, and I think from a characterisation perspective this book is incredible. Not, perhaps, easy, but challenging and rousing. It woke me up, that's for sure. The point of view made me feel like I knew the people around Cromwell as well as he did, no more and no less, and I think that's pretty cool.

- And then, other times, you get half-way through the book and minor spoilers ) My point here is that there's challenging, and then there's opaque, and I think this sometimes went to opaque. And to be honest I think that's a flaw. Or rather, I think that I think it's a flaw. There's a concept we talked about in a paper last year that I didn't understand until now, and I wish I could remember the specific words, but it was a famous dude literary theorist who had a word for writing that isn't comprehensible. At the time I didn't get to grips with this idea at all - I could only compare it to the unreliable narrator, and the prof said that that wasn't it (but couldn't give any specific examples.) However, maybe, if I'm remembering it right, this book fits the bill in some wise.

- and then on the other hand I sort of am anti the idea of reading - surface-level reading - being a process of decoding. I don't think writing should be laboured. Perhaps this is because when I studied literature I looked at it in the context of the period it was written in and its implied sociopolitical meanings, not really at the content of the books, so much. But I don't think that's it.

- Maybe I was just offended because I'm a pretty good reader and I found parts of this mass-market fiction trade paperback to be as difficult as any fiction I've read, and more difficult than not a few academic papers. (And saying that, I don't even have this dilemma about academic papers: I'm willing to concede that there are multiple purposes for fiction, but the purposes of non-fiction writing is to be understood, and if you can't do that, you shouldn't.) So, well, I don't know! I don't know how I feel about it. We'll let it percolate for awhile, shall we?

- To get over it, today I read the last two volumes of Scott Pilgrim (AWESOME, and now I'm fully prepped for the movie which also looks awesome) and started in on Homeland, which is short stories by Barbara Kingsolver. Kingsolver is one of my favourite novelists and earlier this year I read Prodigal Summer, the last novel of hers that I hadn't read, so I was planning on saving it for when I was really down. However, book group's theme this month is short stories, so there you go. I am enjoying them so far, but a lot of them, I must say, do feel like out-takes from her novels. But then, perhaps that's what I was looking for! They aren't like The Poisonwood Bible, so that's a relief.

- Also I saw my sister in her school musical and she was frigging rocking! She was the lead and unfortunately had strep throat but she did pretty well considering. (They did Brigadoon, a musical I had never heard of & tbqh I probably won't rush out and download it, but one of its strengths was that it was set in Scotland, so they all did dreadful Scottish accents (except for three people who did AMERICAN accents which were EVEN FUNNIER.) Worth the price of admission!
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (kate demasking)
last week I read my 65th new book of the year! )

Today I'm reading Skulduggery Pleasant, by Derek Landy (thank you [personal profile] genusshrike, who lent it to me). Towards the end of the novel, but I hope non-spoilery, is a quote that I'm pulling out and sharing because I think it exemplifies the concept of women in refrigerators, why it's bad, and what creators can do to guard against it. (Names have been excised so it's not spoilery. Bold emphasis mine, italic his..)

"He used my wife and child as a weapon against me. In order to do so, he had to kill them. He took my family's death and he made it about me. When you die, it will be your death and yours alone. Let it come to you on your own terms."
-- Derek Landy, Skulduggery Pleasant (HarperCollins: London 2007), p 344


That can pretty much stand as is, I think. I just wanted to shout out to what I think is a very good, very simple analysis of the problem.

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labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
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