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Marissa Lingen

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Books read, late May [Jun. 1st, 2015|02:28 pm]
Marissa Lingen

Taner Akcam, A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility. Akcam is a Turkish historian who is confronting the Armenian genocide head-on, and from what I can tell he is fairly rare in that. He is doing it in a fairly dry way, examining all sorts of documentation and refuting opposition arguments piece by piece, so if you wanted to know what it was like to be Armenian in this period, this is not the book for you. But that kind of argument can be extremely important to have in meticulous detail.

Jack Berry, West African Folktales. Collected from various sources with more attention to folklore as a field of study than as storytelling, so there’s somewhat repetitive variation. However, sometimes that’s useful to see what’s essential in the culture you’re reading about as compared to your own home culture.

John Brewer, The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century. A giant doorstop of a book, focusing on various men and women who influenced popular and high culture in England in the 18th century. If you’re interested in this sort of thing, go for it, but it was not transcendent enough to recommend more broadly.

Octavia Butler, The Parable of the Sower. Reread. Vivid post-apocalyptic fiction. Shorter and left more open than I remembered, so I’m glad there’s a sequel, but utterly engrossing while I was reading it.

C.J. Cherryh, Inheritor. Reread. Jase Graham whines and throws fits. Too many HOOMANS. I am deeply glad to know that there is better stuff coming in this series (AND FEWER HOOMANS), because Bren and Jase grating on each other is realistic and well-done and ANNOYING.

Diane Duane, A Wizard Abroad. Reread. My least-favorite of the Young Wizards books due to a fairly genericized Ireland and an equally generic-feeling smoochy subplot. Again: I’m glad to know there is better yet to come.

Melissa Grey, The Girl at Midnight. Discussed elsewhere.

Gwyneth Jones, Bold as Love. Reread. The thing I like about this book is that its heart is about people taking care of each other. Some of the stuff they do to take care of each other is not at all my mode, but for me that’s what makes the whole thing worthwhile. Not just the central triumvirate, but also the side characters, the way people are and aren’t there for each other in serious crises. It adds to the small-scale bits of futurism I like so well. Despite the horrific abuse early on in the book, despite the awful things some people do to each other and the compromises they make, the warmth of this just made me happy all over again.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux


[User Picture]From: alecaustin
2015-06-02 02:39 am (UTC)
Yeah, Inheritor is a good example of depicting something accurately not universally enhancing the reader's enjoyment of a book.

Also: Hoomans. Feh.
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[User Picture]From: carbonel
2015-06-02 03:06 am (UTC)
A Wizard Abroad's worst problem, IMO, is that the POV is wrong. If it had been told as Ronan's story, it would have been much more interesting.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2015-06-02 11:46 am (UTC)
The thing is, if it had been told as Ronan's story, she would not have been able to exoticize Ireland so damn much--but also would not have been able to explain things to a presumed American kid audience. So in some ways much better, but in a few ways less saleable.
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[User Picture]From: carbonel
2015-06-02 02:53 pm (UTC)
I think she could have made it salable by having the American visitors react to all the new stuff as seen through Ronan's eyes. Part of the reason I rolled my eyes so much at the time was that Diane had recently moved to Ireland, so it felt as if a lot of her own goshwow was coming through -- and detracting from the actual story, which was intended to be rooted in Irish mythos, as filtered through the Young Wizards worldbuilding.

You may be right, though -- I don't remember the market all that well at the time.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2015-06-02 02:58 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I kind of characterized most of that book as "I am in Ireland now, and I have feelings." Sigh.
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[User Picture]From: ethelmay
2015-06-03 09:02 pm (UTC)
Plus, for someone who routinely goes to the moon, it seems odd that she knows so little about the rest of the world.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2015-06-03 09:49 pm (UTC)
That actually makes some sense to me, as I know a great many people who travel fairly far afield and not a lot in their own region, so it makes sense that a similar behavior might be scaled up. On the other hand, Nita finds Ireland so charming and fascinating that you'd think she would then start exploring Croatia and Indonesia and Mozambique on the theory that her own planet has good stuff on it after all.
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From: diatryma
2015-06-04 03:07 am (UTC)
I have read few books involving Ireland that cannot be described that way.
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