Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Books read, late September

David Carkeet, Double Negative. This was fine, but there wasn't enough linguistics research in it, and also I saw no reason for anybody to like the main character, no matter how often we were told that everybody did. I didn't. Why would I? What was there to him? Sometimes short mysteries are concise and taut and all of those good things. Sometimes they're just short.

E. M. Delafield, Diary of a Provincial Lady. I did not fall head over heels for this book the way some of my friends did, but it was entertaining and well worth my time. It is what it says on the front, the "diary" (clearly written for public consumption at the time, not repurposed later) of a mother and wife in Britain in the 1920s. Could not stop brain from placing her and hers in the Farthing universe down the road, alas.

Sarah Dessen, Lock and Key. Hurrah! It's a Sarah Dessen novel where the male love interest is not a violent criminal and does not Teach The Heroine About Life! They teach each other things instead! And the peasants rejoiced! This one made it clear that the others were taking place in the same Southern town, which is neither a bonus nor a drawback for me, I guess, seeing the cameos other characters made. I will be interested in how many of the others are similarly situated. (I don't think she thinks she specified Southern, but trust me, these folks are not Northerners.)

Paul Fussell, Uniforms: Why We Are What We Wear. This is, no kidding, the worst book I have finished in recent months. It's disorganized and sexist and randomly biased against other people's interests for no particular reason, and also it's often just plain wrong. And did I mention poorly researched? And not very well thought out? And badly edited? I had to keep checking the date, because I was thinking, "Maybe that was the case in the 1970s, but...." It was written in 2002. So when he says that each male college student for the last fifty years has had a pair of penny loafers...wrong. When he talks about how baseball uniforms have recently started being obsessed with being skin-tight...wrong. When he talks about Girl Scout uniforms and blathers briefly about old blue dresses before talking about how brown knee-length shorts have been the thing for decades now...wrong, wrong, wrong. Like, "What is wrong with you that you thought you were even remotely qualified to write this book?" levels of wrong. And some of the disorganization looks extremely unfortunate, and also why on earth would you have a book like this with no illustrations? None. No photos, no line drawings, nothing. This book was so bad that I went and took the other Paul Fussell book off my Amazon list. I've enjoyed stuff of his before, but part of the point of my Amazon list is that anything on it would make me say, "Hey, cool!" if someone bought it for me, and it's going to take quite some time before my reaction isn't, "Oh, it's him," instead.

Michael McKinley, Hockey: A People's History. This was so much better than the last hockey histories I read. Oh wow, so much better. Among other things, it acknowledged the existence of women, black people, and Métis. And labor disputes that were not all smiles and laughter. And lo these many other good things for a hockey history to acknowledge. My only caveat is that it is very much A Canadian People's History; if you want to read about hockey in the US or Sweden or Finland or Russia, there's not much of it here except in that it affects Canadian hockey. Which to me just means that I need to find more hockey books, not that there's anything wrong with this one; and anyway if you have to have a history of hockey in just one country, Canada would be the one.

Ruth Rendell, A Sleeping Life. The problem with reading a long, ground-breaking mystery series that started before one's birth is that sometimes the ground that was broken has since been trodden into paths, then paved and landscaped. This is one of those: the stunning twist at the end was frustratingly obvious thirty years after the fact, and while it was interesting to watch how it was handled early on, it was more interesting as an historical artifact than as a book.

Kate Ross, Cut to the Quick and A Broken Vessel. These walk the fine line between "fun mystery equivalent of swashbuckling" and "over the top." For me they were successful in that, and I'll read the other two in the series as the library gets them to me. Regency mystery, in the sense that there are Regency romances: they are not actually very concerned with a sociopolitical depiction of the Regency period, but who cares? If the answer is, "I care," these are probably not the books for you.

Martin Cruz Smith, Gorky Park. It took me a bit to get into this one, and then things really took off. Detective in a totalitarian state, uff da. Not always an easy book, but a good one, I think; I will look for the others in the series.

Jo Walton (papersky), Half a Crown. Discussed elsewhere. Highly recommended.
Tags: bookses precious
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