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Books read, early March. - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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Books read, early March. [Mar. 16th, 2011|11:07 am]
Marissa Lingen
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Adachi Mitsuru, Short Program and Short Program 2. Manga short stories. This puts them in the same category in some ways as short-shorts: one of the easiest ways to make it work is to start with some very, very clear genre furniture and then play with it, and in fact that's what happens here a lot. I have gotten stories rejected for being "sweet," so I want to be careful using it to describe other people's work, because I know it can be dismissive. Yet some of these stories really are sweet, and I don't mean that to be dismissive in the least.

Ambrose Bierce, Shadows of Blue and Grey. Grandpa's. I am used to Ambrose Bierce as a satirist, and this is not that. This is not that at all. This is an extremely scarred man working through his horrific war experiences in the US Civil War. The only thing that makes it even slightly bearable is that he is doing so with some Victorian short story conventions, so at times it begins to seem that no one died in our Civil War except at the hands of a close relative--the level of melodrama provided the only emotional distance available to me in these stories.

Michael Innes, Hamlet, Revenge!. This one was kind of a mess. It's in an omnibus with the one I was actually supposed to read (and haven't yet; I started at the front of the omnibus). It's about a murder at an amateur production of Hamlet and it has ten gajillion characters. Once the deathy doomfulness starts, the detectives start ruling people out in great chunks, but by then it's a bit too late: you've already had the "wait, there are thirty-some people here, and how much do I have to keep track of from them?" problem early on, and I wouldn't be surprised if a great many readers who were not dedicated to Innes or did not already own the volume had already quit because of that. I've only read two Innes novels, and this is definitly not the one of the two to start with. (Of course, neither of them is the one I was told to start with, so why you should listen any better than I do is an open question. Still: don't blame me.)

John J. Murray, George I, the Baltic, and the Whig Split of 1717. This title is a lying liar that lies. The Whig Split of 1717 was hardly touched. There was a great deal of Swedo-British policy of the early 18th century, which is of interest to me, so it wasn't a complete disappointment. But he didn't get into the Whig Split in any kind of detail, so I will be left trying to figure that one out from other sources, I guess. Also, this writer was not cursed with a sense of humor in writing this book. If you're interested in early 18th century machinations around the Baltic for their own sake, this will be a useful book, but it's not one of those lovely pieces of nonfiction that can spark interest in an obscure topic all by itself.

Chuck Palahniuk, Lullaby. I find it fascinating how authors who get shelved as literary fiction or mainstream fiction handle speculative conceits differently than we do. Palahniuk was clearly not thinking that a speculative conceit that had been at the center of a Monty Python sketch was the most creative thing ever, so he was relying on language more to carry the thing, and that worked pretty well for me. It was an extremely fast read, very "pacey."

Sherwood Smith (sartorias), Coronets and Steel. I imprinted on The Prisoner of Zenda at a young age; I honestly can't tell you what this book would be like if I hadn't. And I like that Sherwood decided not to set it in a world that was just like ours except for lacking The Prisoner of Zenda--one of my big complaints in SF is when it's set in worlds where nobody has ever read or heard of SF, and Ruritanian fantasy is not different that way for me. One of the major departures from Prisoner is how much fantasy content there is in this book, and that's where the ending is--well, the ending would be abrupt and unsatisfying if this was supposed to be a stand-alone book, but it's my understanding that it's not, so I will be eager to see how some of the more overtly fantastic stuff gets developed in the sequel.

Adrian Tchaikovsky, Salute the Dark. Fourth in its series, so by the time you're getting around to deciding whether to read it, you almost certainly have data of your own. But what I will say is this: Salute the Dark draws some plot threads to a close. There will be more books in this series, but Salute the Dark demonstrates that it's not just unending war and plottery without any resolution. In fantasy series these days--even though these are not as Big Fat as some fantasy, they're the same stuff--that can be a great relief to a great many readers. So much deathy doomfulness!

P.G. Wodehouse, A Prefect's Uncle and Tales of St. Austin's. Kindle. I wouldn't hesitate to describe these as minor Wodehouse. They're school stories, entertaining but not howlingly funny on every page. They were, however, quite worth the price (free!) to have to read in the waiting room when I take timprov to his appointments.

In completely un-book-related news, this is the song that's in my head.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: dichroic
2011-03-16 04:23 pm (UTC)
"I imprinted on The Prisoner of Zenda at a young age; I honestly can't tell you what this book would be like if I hadn't. "

I can. It was awesome anyway, though it did leave me needing to go read Zenda. WHich I promptly listened to in the Librivox version and then read for good measure. (It really would have helped if someone had given me summaries of a buch of the classics early on, along with notes about what kind of book they were - sad, funny, stirring, whatever. Somehow I'd gotten the notion that Prisoner of Zenda was a grim story, than which nothing could be further from the swashbuckling truth.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-03-16 04:55 pm (UTC)
Nobody told me the Patrick O'Brian books were funny until the person who actually lent them to me (dd_b). This was a great oversight.
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[User Picture]From: oursin
2011-03-16 04:47 pm (UTC)
Having enjoyed Appleby's End, I find myself bitterly disappointed every time I attempt another Innes. Though I seem to recall enjoying (at least some of) his non-genre novels as J I M Stewart.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-03-16 04:55 pm (UTC)
In fact, Appleby's End is the third book in the omnibus and the one its donor recommended. But I figured I'd start from the beginning, and if I hated either of the first two, I'd skip on. I didn't hate Hamlet, Revenge!. I could just see where it went wrong.
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