Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Books read, late January

The disinclination to read nonfiction continues. Not sure how long it'll last, but there's not a shortage of good fiction out there, so I expect I'll survive it.

Laurie Halse Anderson, Catalyst. Anderson is an author of whom I think, "Perhaps if I'd read this when I was that age." Because cliched plot twists have to be built into cliches sometime. Before you've read a million of those, you have to read one. I suspect that's what happens with Anderson novels. But when I was that actual age I wouldn't have read books like hers anyway, because I ran far and fast whenever anything smelled even faintly of a Problem Novel. So I don't know. Her prose goes smoothly.

Peter S. Beagle, A Fine and Private Place. Lovers of The Graveyard Book should go get this one now. The other category of people who really need it are people who want to study setting, because it was one of the most intensely set books I've ever read. It is not set in Vague Movie New York. It is set in a specific neighborhood of an actual New York. It is the kind of New York that we got from children's books written in that era (mid-20th century), where New York is actually a place or more accurately a set of places, rather than a fuzzy generic dream concept. Early 21st century New York setting writers, for heaven's sake, go back to that New York! It's much more interesting, and I suspect people still live there, albeit 50 years in the future!

Terry Bisson and Stephanie Spinner, Be First in the Universe. Children's SF with gadgets and twins. Fun but not astounding for me--but I suspect that I might be a great deal more in love with it if I'd been its target audience.

Greg Egan, Crystal Nights and Other Stories. Some good, some okay, and one that crossed my lines on what is and is not acceptable for use of real people in stories. I really enjoyed the early part of the volume. "Oracle," however, struck me as profoundly tacky. If you want to argue with CS Lewis's worldview and work, do so; putting words in his mouth around the death of his actual real live wife is just not okay. And giving him a completely transparent different name doesn't help when the circumstances are so obvious that you might as well write an introduction saying, "THIS DUDE IS ACTUALLY CS LEWIS AND THIS OTHER ONE IS ALAN TURING EVERYBODY GOT THAT OKAY THANKS."

Reginald Hill, Death Comes for the Fat Man, Good Morning, Midnight, The Price of Butcher's Meat, and Underworld. So. Underworld is one of those inflection points in a series, and having read a lot of what comes after it made it clear that Hill is good at what he does: I knew what would happen. The consequences of this book were known to me in some detail. And it was still a compelling read. That's a good writer. The Price of Butcher's Meat--well, I wish they'd kept the British title, The Cure for All Diseases, for the American edition. It's a better title and suits this book well. Also I like the character Charley but did not like her e-mail style, so I was relieved when her e-mails were sprinkled much more lightly through the last two-thirds of the book; I would not recommend starting here for that reason. Still loving this series. Not many more to go.

Walter Mosley, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned. Stories of an African-American ex-con living in Watts. Very, very well done. They were shelved in "Mystery," though. I said to a friend on e-mail, "This is like shelving a cake in short SF because I was the one who baked it."

Mike Shepherd, Kris Longknife: Defiant and Kris Longknife: Deserter. Sometimes the level of clueless privilege the main character exhibits is really trying: the bit where she says she didn't know they had really poor people on her planet, in the same book where she wasn't sure they had minorities on her planet, made me stop and think very carefully about whether I wanted to continue. Happily, Shepherd is, um, shepherding his heroine along the path to clue. And she does know quite a lot about some other things, so she's not stupid, just incredibly sheltered. And things do go boom, so there's that.
Tags: bookses precious
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