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

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Books read, late April. [May. 1st, 2011|03:54 pm]
Marissa Lingen
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Ben Aaronovitch, Midnight Riot. The issues around the cover of this book make me sad and tired. The book itself, however? Not at all sad and tired. It's very much worth looking past the publisher's decision to the book Aaronovitch actually wrote. This is the good kind of urban fantasy, or at least the Mrissish kind. If you like Mike Carey's Felix Castor books, you should definitely try out Ben Aaronovitch. Fun stuff.

Elizabeth Bear (matociquala), Bone and Jewel Creatures (Kindle), The Tricks of London, and Veronique is Visiting from Paris. It was apparently Short Bear Fortnight here. I'm still trying to get oriented in what I will and won't discuss in these book posts, and the latter two were almost certainly below the length limit of what I guarantee I will. But they also exist as separate physical entities, which most shorter stuff I read does not. Anyway. Bone and Jewel Creatures made an interesting pair of "old lady novellas" with Seven for a Secret, which I read earlier in April. Very different settings, very different characters, but the rarity of old ladies as actual characters made them go together in ways that another demographic would not have. The Tricks of London was also interesting to read in close proximity with Seven for a Secret because they were the same characters in different times. Veronique was combined with Kyle Cassidy photos in ways that made me wonder about the collaborative process--and I would be interested to hear how people respond to it if they only get one of the postcards.

James Hance and Max Michaels, Wookiee the Chew: The House at Chew Corner. This is another immensely short thing. It is, as the title might or might not imply, Star Wars-ish and Milne-ish all at once: they have captured the Shepherd illustration style utterly. It was even shorter than The House at Pooh Corner, but immensely cute.

John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let Me In. Oh, so Swedish. So Swedish. I expect they didn't have to do an elevator pitch for this one, because, "What if there were vampires...and they were suburban Swedes?" is not actually an appealing-sounding elevator pitch. But that's exactly what it is. And it works. I am not really all that interested in another vampire novel, but this one was fine. For those of you less interested in Swedish literature and still uninterested in vampires...possibly less fine. But seriously, it just sort of rattled along very Swedishly and took me far less time than I expected.

David Liss, The Devil's Company. The third in the Weaver books, the last so far. In this one, Weaver takes on the East India Company and associated personages, or they take on him, or something. I enjoyed this, but I didn't think it was quite as inspired as the other Liss books I've read; I'd try one of the others first and see how you like them.

Karin Lowachee, The Gaslight Dogs. Set in not-Canada. This book did all sorts of things right. There were, for example, analogs to both the Inuit and to other First Nations groups, and the European settler-analogs also had more than one cultural source, and each side had a tendency towards treating the other as a monolith in ways that the text made clear were completely inappropriate. But people are totally like that. There were lots of ways in which this book was very much the People Are Totally Like That book. This is not always a happy thing, but, y'know, people. Not always happy things.

Becky Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the Working-Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920-1965. I got this for research on a book I may never write but will always want to know how to write in case I get there. And it was completely useless for those purposes. Luckily, it was still interesting, and I'm always telling people that researching a book shouldn't be narrow, so I guess you can take me at my word on this. Still: the Korean War was nearly invisible, and it this book itself was very narrowly focused, a case study on particular working-class suburbs in a very narrow section of LA. I think the thing that I found most fascinating was that I have heard of the "build as you go" approach to housing in very poor areas of the Caribbean, where people will build as much of their house as they can afford and then just let it sit while they live in a tent or a shanty and work until they can get more money for more building supplies. I had no idea that this was au courant in any part of the US within the last hundred years. I think I am too much of a northern girl to really have it ever sink in as a normal option, because snow. It flurried this morning here. I know there are people who have to live rough here, but it is not a normal working-class option, not even in this economy. So that it had been in this same country, when people I know were alive--that was fascinating.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: txanne
2011-05-01 09:50 pm (UTC)
I've wanted to read Lowachee since I saw her on a Worldcon panel. It's very nice to know that her books are good, since panel-fu and writing-fu do not always co-occur.

And I shall put the Aaronovich on my "to read" list, as soon as I've reread all the books I'm thinking of culling. (Everybody does that, right? I'm not weird?)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-05-01 09:53 pm (UTC)
I have been pondering doing that very thing, actually, but with Grandpa's books I already have such a large project that reading through iffy books in our collection seems like more project, and thus not for me right now.
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[User Picture]From: txanne
2011-05-01 09:59 pm (UTC)
Oh yes. I'd rather be diving into comfort books, really, but wherever I move is going to have less space than I do here. Aaaagh.
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[User Picture]From: redbird
2011-05-01 10:24 pm (UTC)
I've been culling some when we get to that shelf; saving some on the theory that I may want to reread them (though haven't reread any of those yet); and in one case pulled something off the giveaway pile, thought "what's in this collection again?" and wound up keeping it at least for the moment, and reading the first few stories in there on the train that day.
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[User Picture]From: kitryan
2011-05-02 09:40 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's what's been delaying my sell back trip to Powells- I don't have time to reread my give away pile and to uh, log them in a spreadsheet so I don't forget and buy them again. I've got 2 overflowing milk crates to go through.
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[User Picture]From: mamculuna
2011-05-01 11:00 pm (UTC)
The movie of Let Me In, called Let the Right One In, was fine--the American remake, not so much.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-05-02 04:15 pm (UTC)
I will probably get to it soon: it's on my pile, it's a borrowed book (which moves things swiftly up the queue), and I liked the first one a lot.
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[User Picture]From: blythe025
2011-05-02 05:27 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to hear that Gaslight Dogs did things well. I picked it up because of the cover (I'm from Alaska and the Inuit looking girl on the cover caught my attention -- anything Alaska-ish catches my attention), and I've been planning to read it with a slight worry about how the culture might be handled. I'm glad to hear it was done well.
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From: vcmw
2011-05-03 12:31 am (UTC)
The build as you go thing happens in cold climates too, and in the last few decades. I know that there was conversation about a number of lower-income blue collar families in my neck of the woods (Vermont) who had been building their houses as they went within the last 30-50 years.

One strategy I recall hearing about was to have the basement poured and plumbed and then kind of (topped? capped?), and live in the basement while putting together money for the next story.

But Vermont has a lot of slightly-wacky home traditions, that were just fading from regular use by the 50s-60s and then were being revived on the other end by the hippy/back to the land influx at the same time.

My gram says that buying military surplus quonset huts and putting them up and living in them while building the house slowly was also fairly common for a while there.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-05-03 02:12 am (UTC)
That's fascinating. One of the things that got mentioned in the Nikolaides book was that the rise of housing permits/inspections was what killed this mode in Southern California. Was the area of Vermont under discussion very rural or otherwise lacking in inspections, or did the inspectors just keep coming out periodically? Or don't you know that part?
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[User Picture]From: cissa
2011-05-04 09:26 pm (UTC)
Yes, this. I know I've read about people doing it, and I can see the appeal- though personally, I'd go for yurt rather than a basement. :) Or possibly a trailer (which i'd then turn into my studio).

Rural land usually has MUCH less restrictive laws in terms of building inspectors, etc.; they really don't seem to care much.
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From: diatryma
2011-05-05 03:11 am (UTC)
I read an article some years ago about a woman whose house was the starter bungalow for a larger house that wasn't built. People bought the lot, put up a tiny house, then saved up for the real house.
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From: diatryma
2011-05-05 03:12 am (UTC)
This was in Iowa, for the data point.
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