Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Books read, early August

I sometimes have a hard time figuring out how to figure out whether friends will think something is a fun thing for them to read or a tedious obligation for them to deal with. Ah well; one does the best one can under the circumstances at hand, and changes it for later circumstances.

W. H. Auden, Collected Poems. Ohhhh. Such a thing. Obviously not every poem the man wrote was completely wonderful, but so many of them were. Auden can take subjects seriously and be funny about them at the same time. Loved it. This was a library book, and I know I'll want to own a copy so I can reread several of the poems again and again. One of the things that startled me was that Auden wrote a poem for Oliver Sacks. I had so thoroughly associated him with the pre-1960s world, and Oliver Sacks with my own world, that having the gap of history so sharply narrowed was astonishing. He also wrote one for Charles Williams, which made me think more highly of Charles Williams.

Elizabeth Bear (matociquala), Ink and Steel. Okay, so: I am a really tough sell on Elizabethan fantasies. A really tough sell. And on books featuring Shakespeare as a character. But the previous two Promethean Age books are my favorite of Bear's books, and this one had Marlowe as well as Shakespeare, so what else could I do? And I have the second half of this coming in the mail, so I will say something of more substance when it arrives. But as with swan_tower's Midnight Never Come, I was justified in my trust that the sources would be well-integrated and many. Looking forward to seeing how it ends.

Amanda Cross, An Imperfect Spy, A Trap for Fools, and The Players Come Again. I still love this series. Love. An Imperfect Spy is probably my least favorite of recent volumes, but that still makes it a good, solid read. I liked the other two very much. For anyone interested in this series, I'd say it's gotten less traditionally murder mystery-ish in structure with later volumes, but for me this is not a good thing or a bad thing, just a thing.

Charles de Lint, Dingo. Hmmm. Well, I definitely support de Lint doing things a little differently -- getting out of Newford, not just writing about Native Americans and Celts. And the main character and his...counterpart, is I guess how I'd describe the other young man in the book...were a pretty good contrast and a good set of surprises for each other. On the other hand, there were some moments of pretty blatant clumsiness: for one 17-year-old to explain the idea of MMORPGs to another as if it would be news without knowing that she'd been raised under a rock was just unbelievable to me. It read like a 1950s teenager explaining earnestly to another 1950s teenager that if you could find a coin of some sort, you could feed it into a slot and choose a grooved disc which would play the music of your choice from a list of choices. And even the stuff that wasn't unbelievable was often very blatant: the message that YOU SHOULD BE GRATEFUL IF YOU HAVE SUPPORTIVE PARENTS, for example, was written on a 2x4 for reader bludgeoning. Not a bad idea, being grateful of supportive family. But...yah. Maybe just a tiny bit more subtlety would be in order one of these days.

Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever. I wish there had been some focused people who were actually happy in this book. It's mainstream YA, and it had some really good elements. But it seemed like there was a dichotomy between people who had fun and people who had goals, and that bothered me.

Rumer Godden, China Court. The last two pages of this book so disturb me that I'm not sure I'm processing them yet at all. I loved the generations, the homely details of the house and the food, the way Tracy learns to stick up for herself. And I loved that the horrible relatives weren't really horrible in the end, that they rallied to support Tracy when her path became clear. It's just the last two pages I'm having trouble with.

Diana Wynne Jones, House of Many Ways. It feels to me like Diana Wynne Jones has settled into sort of a routine in her last few books, but this was a very well-executed version of that, and I had fun with it. It's listed as a sequel to Howl's Moving Castle, but I'm pretty sure you could start with House of Many Ways and not miss too very much of what was going on.

Sarah Prineas, The Magic Thief. Fun children's fantasy that made me want biscuits. Biscuits! So many biscuits! There were biscuit recipes in the back of the book, but I'm still not baking, and I have not yet found the time to ask for biscuit help. Sigh.

Ruth Rendell, Murder Being Once Done and No More Dying Then. These are both in a long series, but the latter is, I think, a better example of it. It was one of my favorites in the series so far. The other was fine, entertaining but not nearly as outstanding -- although it may look like the beginning of a character development arc in retrospect when I've read the next few.

Robert Rummel-Hudson, Schuyler's Monster. Edging into nonfiction again, a little at a time. Some of you have been reading Rob's blog for years now. I haven't. I came to Schuyler's Monster having read a few entries when friends linked them. It's a father's memoir of his daughter's early years. She has a congenital brain condition that keeps her from speaking, but she's learning to use an electronic aid to let her communicate her thoughts. Reading this, I was so glad she wasn't born much earlier. I remember one of the daughters of some friends of my parents, a girl a few years older than me, who had to communicate with a word board, and it looked so frustrating, even when I was small. It also got me thinking: there's a freshness to a memoir that's written as quickly as this one was (Schuyler is not yet out of grade school), but I'm wondering how differently it would read with another ten or twenty years' perspective. I'm not sure how memoirists decide whether to try to get something into polished form right away or whether to write what they're thinking at the moment and then see what time makes of it. Anybody have personal experience of this?

Sherwood Smith (sartorias), King's Shield. This is one of the few fantasy series that's allowing me to completely immerse on the first page. I'm bouncing impatiently while I wait for the last volume. Bouncebounce! Bounce! (More Tdor! Bounce!)

Helene Tursten, The Torso. Swedish murder mystery in translation, second in a series. Better balanced than its predecessor, I think. I would only recommend it carefully, though: it is fairly graphic, gruesome with disturbing elements of sexuality -- and somewhat disturbing handling of them in spots. I think in some ways it's an interesting exercise to read a very graphic book in translation, but it's certainly not an interesting exercise of universal interest.
Tags: bookses precious

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