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Week in Books

February 5, 2009

Hey, did you ever have one of those days when your internet goes in and out so much that you almost make a dirty joke?  That you feel like one of those mice in those experiments that prove why slot machines are totally addictive?

Long story short, I am having some connection issues.  In the time it took me to bring up the page and start typing, the connection’s already dropped and come back once.  I’m trying to bring up my last WiB post so that I know where to start on my list, but oh, it is taking forever.  The good thing about this, though, is that at least I can type this up and probably not worry TOO much about losing it in the meantime.  Maybe I’ll even get a draft save at some point, although that hasn’t happened yet.  And I am not holding my breath.

OH LOOK, it dropped again.

OH LOOK, it may or may not be back again already.  Sigh.

Whatever, it loaded enough to prove to me that I haven’t written anything since I talked about what I read at the end of 2008.  So here we go, the beginning of 2009:

The first thing I read was Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Sharing Knife: Beguilement, which I hear is the first of two fantasy books about, uh, this girl Fawn, and this guy who’s like a Native American but more magical, and my friend sent it to me because it was too much romance than she likes in her fantasy.  Fortunately for me, I usually feel that romance is the best part of fantasy (HEY IT FINALLY SAVED A DRAFT), so this book worked just fine for me.

Here’s what I wrote about it for my book challenge post: Fawn is cute, short, and young-looking. Dag is tall and ~*magical*~. Together they battle the forces of evil! Accidentally anyway. I’m terrible at reviews because I never like to give away anything, but I liked this book a lot. It’s simple–one of the things I hate about fantasy is flipping back to a glossary or crappy world-building. Fawn is the outsider that allows us to learn about the Lakewalkers (read: magical hippie/NAs?) without a ton of infodump. It’s romantic, even sexy. But for some, it might be triggering. Just a warning there. I didn’t have any problems with it, although it made me sad. And shocked me, because I didn’t think it was going THERE.

I’ll just leave it at that.  No need to write it up twice, I think, when I read 30 books last month.

I then read the Anita Blake but I already talked about that.  I am laughing at my master list, because obviously I didn’t care enough about it to write out the title: Anita Blake: Someting soethingnsdkldsajkfds

Then I read Lawless, Ed Brubaker’s second (I believe) Criminal story.  I enjoyed this one a lot more than the other, Coward.  It was more straight-forward, I suppose, a little easier for those not into the more hard-boiled of the genre.  Already ordered the next one.

I then read a Foxtrot collection–I believe And When She Opened the Closet, All the Clothes Were Polyester! It’s my daughter’s, and she does so love her Foxtrot.  I like Foxtrot a lot too.  I wish the characters aged.

I moved on, then, to a reread: the first two of the four 52 trades.  I was wondering if reading them as a collection was different than reading them as issues, but since we never remembered and/or had time to get to the comic book store every week, it’s not like I didn’t read a ton of them back-to-back-to-back, so basically, the question then becomes “Is it better without ads?” to which the answer is always YES.  I loved 52.  I loved The Question especially (and am totally having a Question JLU marathon on Valentine’s Day if I’m not, uh, otherwise occupied), and still, after all this time, feel the Kate/Renee dialogue is totally heavy-handed and cliched.  Which is weird cuz it’s Rucka, and I do so love Rucka.  But it really did read like “Oh shi–I have to write about LESBIANS.  What do I know from lesbians?  Okay, I’ll just write some generic confrontation dialogue.”  But really, if that’s my only complaint–well, after Why is Grant Morrison still writing comics?–things can’t be so bad, right?

I miss you, Charlie.

Ah, but I have Ex Machina to comfort me.  Ex Machina is soooo coool, and the “Power Down” storyline and trade kept it going with its usual awesomeness.  I don’t even have a lot to say about it.  I figure it will end soon (Wikipedia says Vaughan says it’s going to run to 50 issues, which is fine with me; I love when things end), and then I’ll read all of it at once, and then tell you all about it over again, but just a little pimpage before I move on, because more people should be reading this: Mitchell Hundred somehow ends up with the power to talk to machines, and fashions himself into a superhero.  But then 9/11 happens and he decides there is another avenue to getting things done: by becoming mayor of New York City.  Yeah, pick it up if you can.  It’s awesome, and it’s not DC- or Marvel-universe, so you don’t need to know about 5000 other superheroes to get what’s going on.

Then I read another superhero trade that’s not in a major continuity: Gail Simone’s Welcome to Tranquility.  (Wikipedia says it’s set in *a* comics universe, but let me tell you, I’ve never read anything else and I was fine.)  It’s the story of a little town where a bunch of superheroes and supervillains went to retire, where they live fairly peacefully…until someone gets murdered.  Then it’s up to the sheriff to figure out whodunnit and why.

Oh, it was so much fun.  It’s an homage and a parody and its own very unique thing.  There’s a second trade out there, too, somewhere–woohoo!  Gail Simone, I love you.  Will you have my babies?  They don’t have to be real babies or anything.

I moved on to something a heck of a lot less fun: Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior, a collection of stories that includes the story that was turned into the movie Secretary, which is sexy and awesome.  The stories are basically maybe-sexy and depressing, with that sort of “Okay, I’ll just end it here because real life doesn’t have endings” and blah blah blah.  It’s lit, it’s art, it’s gritty and real–and I wasn’t crazy about it.  It was like “Oh, I’ve read this, now I never have to read this again.”  There were a couple of stories I enjoyed more than others–one about two kinky people with totally different definitions of kink, another about the nature and complexity of female friendships–but I think I can safely pass this book on to the next person who wants to read it and never think about it again.

Finally (for now), I read Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen, a work comprised of two short stories, “Kitchen” and “Moonlight Sonata.”  Both are about loss, and I have to say I liked the former much more than the latter.  I liked the translation a lot, there was no sense of time to it, and it was very beautiful.  I wonder at the nature of American and Japanese culture that we as Americans feel we can say so much less, for fear of it being judged cheesy.  Are we restricting ourselves unnecessarily, or has so much been said that we really are just cutting our cliches?  I don’t know; those are probably thoughts for another time.  But it seemed to me that there were things that Ms. Yoshimoto said in her book that she couldn’t have said here; an editor would’ve said “too sappy,” and cut cut cut.  But I appreciated them nonetheless.

Well, that’s enough for now.  I’m going to try to find a window of access in which to publish this.  And I’m still planning on starting those notes tonight, except that I really really really want to finish the new Jennifer Crusie book.  I’ll talk more about it when I’m done, though.

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