February 13th, 2011


Green, by Jay Lake

Review copy provided by Tor.

So the good first: I did not want to read this book. I said to myself, "I don't have to finish it if I don't like it; I can quit whenever." And I did not quit. So that says some good things about the writing here. It also says that the thing that made me not want to read this book was not as much in evidence as I'd feared. Specifically, the marketing copy talks about the main character's courtesan skills/courtesan training, and I am really sick of the Magical Whore thing. It's an incredibly fine line to walk between treating sex workers as the magical Happy Hooker and treating them as volitionless victims, and hardly anybody manages it. Jay doesn't really either: at risk of being too spoilerific (that'll come in a minute), the main character's life path takes a fork, and it really isn't a book about a courtesan. It's a book about fragmented gods and their life and death among humans and how the humans handle it. This by me is much more interesting.

The down side: well, a lot of the book is fairly standard fantasy narrative about the main character's training. I have gotten more and more interested in books that take that sort of thing as given and move on, but the writing was smooth enough to pull me through despite it being a type of narrative I'm not usually as keen on and despite me having serious doubts that it would be my sort of thing despite the marketing copy. That part of the book is not what one might call stunningly original, but it gets the job done. I was more bothered by the dedication.

The dedication reads, "This book is dedicated to my daughter, whose story it is. Someday she may choose to reveal which parts are true and which parts were made up by her dad." Recently haddayr has described her reaction to several categories of situation that would otherwise leave her initially speechless to be looking people in the eye and saying, "That really made me uncomfortable." And I guess that's where I am with this particular dedication. it really made me uncomfortable. I know Jay from conventions and FB; while we are not close friends, I know him well enough to know that he's a loving and devoted father, and that he and his kid have a very good relationship. But for any parent to claim that a novel is their child's story...really makes me uncomfortable. There are lots of ways in which that relationship (particularly when the kid is still a minor) shapes how stories are told. I also ended up somewhat uncomfortable with some of the sexual content--which was otherwise quite well-handled, I felt: explicit where appropriate to the character and her story but in no way gratuitous--when seeing it in the light of a father claiming to be telling his daughter's story. If it had just been dedicated to his daughter, fine, no problem. And from the things Jay has said about his relationship with his daughter, I feel sure that she is aware that the book was dedicated in this fashion (I don't know whether she's read it at this age, but that's not, it turns out, actually my business), and is fine with it. I was just left feeling a bit uneasy about the specific shape of the dedication.


I have a new computer. I was supposed to get a new computer after alecaustin went home. That was in...um...September. But he's not back yet since the last time he went home! (Which was not in September.) So this officially qualifies as After alecaustin Went Home, and I am totally virtuous for getting myself the new computer I needed. Except that I broke down and asked markgritter to do it for me, because I hate spending money. But other than that, totally virtuous.

The old computer was not playing nicely with the new monitor, and as a result I've spent the last several months with the aspect ratio slightly off. This means everybody looked shorter and thicker than they actually were. Now you all look normal, and if I had a habit of looking at supermodels...well, I don't have a habit of looking at supermodels. So you all look normal in your lj icons. Even those of you who are birds, or play birds on the internet.

My mother made us chocolate-dipped apricots and cashews (consecutive, not concurrent, to get all Tom Stoppard on you) for Valentine's Day. Then timprov and I ran to Pumphouse and got lo these many ice creams, and next door at Turtle Bread they were selling pulla. Pulla! I am excited about my pulla. (Braided cardamom almond bread.) Unfortunately, the freezer is now overflowing, and some things I really ought to keep where I will remember we have them have been moved to the chest freezer downstairs. And I know what's for dinner the next two nights (mango quesadillas tonight, lasagna cupcake experiment tomorrow night), and it in no way empties the freezer any further than it is currently emptied. I am Concerned.

I also foraged for titles this week when markgritter and I went to the Kurt Elling concert at the Dakota Jazz Club. I like the Dakota Jazz Club, and I have been busy enough doing other things that I haven't yet put the titles anywhere useful. Do you know what the Dakota Jazz Club has? It has the nicest tisane I've had out anywhere that wasn't a tea shop. I looked at the teabag. The brand of this lovely tisane is Leaves. Leaves! What a horrible name for a tea company in the internet age! In the pre-internet age, it would speak of elegant simplicity. In the internet age, it speaks of never being able to find the stuff again. So if you know where to find Leaves brand tea, by all means speak up; I will be immensely grateful. (Because, y'know. What we need is more tea.)