Reading Diaries: Study Them When They’re Coming Apart
This month I read The Sisters Brothers and Room. They were both good, but I think only Sisters Brothers is a reread. Room is the sort of book that’s built around reveals and tension, and I’m not sure that there’s much there once that’s gone. Certainly it’s a clever book, and the child-voice is wonderfully realized, but Sisters Brothers is the kind of book that I might reread for years to come.
What have you been reading?
I finished the Living With The Dead quadrology with The Zombie Whisperer just before Dragon Con, and now that my recuperation from con (but thankfully not con crud) is over, I’m starting a new book: Shrinking the Heroes by Minister Faust. I’m reading this one for #Diversiverse, the We Need Diverse Books challenge to read and review books by authors of color before the end of September. I’ve read other work by Faust and enjoyed it, so an excuse to read more of him was just what I needed. Expect a review when I’m done as it’s about a psychologist to the stars — where the stars are superheroes!
I read Neuromancer and was taken aback by how much of it I’d already read, in other places. Because apparently when people say “it was seminal” and “so influential,” what they mean is “people hella stole from it.” The Constantine story early on in Sandman, for one (I was thinking “wow, Case is really like a damp-tissue Constantine” from pretty early on, and then the final viewing of Linda and ConstructCase… I laughed), and there’s some uncomfortable pattern-matching between Maelcum and Aerol and Tank and Dozer’s scenes in the Matrix.
Reading Neuromancer in 2014, having been born in 1987, felt a lot like watching The Breakfast Club when I was 19. I’m too old, I already know this, the community experience of loving this so hard and being amazed at new insights will never be mine.
Wow, I tried reading Neuromancer probably in the early 90s and found it right up there with (I know, geek blasphemy) the Foundation books as Sominex on paper. The writing style put me to sleep within 20 pages, every time.
Hah! I read it all in one go, I was pretty into it as a tag-along adventure. It was nowhere near as “for me” as Spook Country, the only other Gibson book I’ve read so far (I’ve searched the whole town), which is good news because Spook Country is a much later publication. A softer, more fascinating sort of cyberpunk and an older set of characters. I’m looking forward to reading more, filling in the gaps.
I discovered William Gibson first year of high school, before his work had been repurposed for glossy action films. It was the right time. (Funnily enough, just last night I was thinking about him–will he ever have another big creative moment like he did with that series of books? He can’t go back to them, and these days it’s a book every once in a while, not so much about his fantastic-technology.) Anyway, his later stuff IS more interesting, though Neuromancer is a cracking adventure story. I’m with you, Claire!
With Spook Country, I was absolutely head-over-heels over how I could not tell at all whether it was supposed to be set “in the future” or “now.” Love, love, love that. A weird thing though: people love Gibson’s women, but neither paperback I’ve read mentioned (on the cover) that there were any girls in them at all.
I reread A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. Now, before, you gush, I am not all nostalgic fangirl about this book like so many people I know. I remember reading it as a youngster and not hating it, but not having a particularly strong opinion about it either. My bestie bought a used copy forgetting she already had one so she gave me the used copy. I remember having the same feelings about the book during the first half of the book – I found Meg annoying, Calvin totally not dreamy, and Charles Wallace endearing. Meg is still annoying, but also a little more endearing, and who can blame her when so many of the people in her life are so condescending towards her? Calvin is still patronizing (not even high school kids in the 60s say “old sport”), and Charles Wallace is still adorable.
But the second half of the book, when they landed on Camazotz, totally reeled me in. My adult mind was immediately like “whoa, this is totally about communism!” I appreciated the quantum physics far more than I did as a child, and L’Engle’s world-building is thoughtful, and her fantastical creatures are splendiferously unique. The Christian themes were a little much sometimes, but I still bought the second book in the series. I even found an old copy with a fantastically creepy, hard-to find cover at my local used bookstore.
Ginnis, have you read Hope Larson’s adaptation? Do you think you might?
I have it on my Amazon wishlist. Oh, the local library has one so I could give it a go! I am interested in how she interprets L’Engle’s fantastical creatures.
(I have heard bad things. /stage whisper)
Well, I’m definitely on it now.
I’m doing an eclectic bucket list of classic science fiction and fantasy books and most recently read Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight, the first book in the Pern series. It was interesting enough–as in, I liked the dragons, and their ability to move through time and space, as well as their relationship with the riders, but I could have done without the two main protagonists. I grow weary of fantasy books that can’t imagine non-patriarchal societies where women don’t have to prove themselves. But more importantly, the character of Lessa was just plain annoying and lacking in depth. My conclusion is that I would probably have appreciated this book more if I’d read it when I was younger and perhaps less jaded.
Lessa and F’lar improve a lot as the series continues, thank gosh. They’re pretty intolerable in Dragonflight–I found myself sympathizing with poor, also-ran F’nor. I reread Dragonflight some years ago, in companion with some of McCaffrey’s early shorts. There’s a lot of weird and scary sexual politics running through her work, which, if you’ve read anything about her public statements outside of the work, you might have guessed at it. Anyway, it’s always weird to reexamine stuff that you read as a kid, which I did–all of the dragon books; like a sponge.
After a sparse summer of reading (thanks Ramadan!), I’ve been killing it in September. Technically I read this in August, but I read Lars Kepler’s The Sandman which was heart- poundingly good. It’s the fourth book in their Swedish Noir series, and they’re fantastic at creating characters that feel normal (I say they because it’s a husband/wife writing team). I’ve been reading YA back to back with Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds (okay), Simmone Howell’s Girl Defective (wonderful), and the last book in the Jasper Dent series by Barry Lyga, Blood of My Blood (ERMEGAWD SO GOOD. AWESOME SERIES. WHY DID IT END???)
I haven’t read the original novel but I do have the Hope Larson graphic novel adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time. I didn’t get the chance to read it yet though.
Swedish Noir by husband/wife team, you say? Characters that feel “normal?” Time I visited the library, I think. DELICIOUS.
Oh, oh, oh, Gibson love. My favorite is the book of short stories for Burning Chrome. Random note: my work conference had a keynote slide with a William Gibson quote.
Anywho, just wrapped up Ancillary Justice. I know, I know. Late to the table since it cleaned up this awards season. It’s a solid read that was about the journey of the story. I genuinely wanted to see it unfold, and not because I was anticipating the next action moment.
Was it this one? “When you want to know how things really work, study them when they’re coming apart.” No, don’t tell me. That one is from Zero History. Fun fact: for the longest time I was set on getting a “no future” tattoo, inspired somehow, by William Gibson’s work. That and the Sex Pistols. I don’t know man, I still might.