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79. Stories of Your Life and Others, Ted Chiang. an excellent collection. a big part of science fiction is thought experiments, postulating a "what if" and building a story (or a whole world) around it. every story in this set is a distilled experiment of that sort; the questions he asks are all fascinating to start with, and the stories are elegant, well-crafted. very tasty.

(currently reading: other magazine, Rolling Thunder: an anarchist journal of dangerous living, and a collection of texts of solo performance which makes me want to go out and find tapes of Lord Buckley and Lenny Bruce, now.)
(finished reading other. also tasty. it's the utopia/dystopia issue, and now i want to go read through a bunch of books listed on the "Timeline of Feminist Utopias". the reviews are great.)
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78. Loose Woman, Sandra Cisneros. collection of poems. some of it hit home, and some of it was just...unfamiliar. also an odd switch from Milosz's subtlety and dryness, all this writing about love and lust and sex and womanliness. bits that i liked:

"I'm as free for the taking
as the eyes of Saint Lucy" (from "Pumpkin Eater")

"Why not? I'm for emotions running amok tonight,
breaking china and getting fucked.
I'm a regular Notre Dame, I tell you.
Little braindoors and gargoyled gutters,
and the frothy mob with their machetes and clubs
wild about me, I tell you,
positively screaming blood." (from "Thing in My Shoe")

clips from 'Las Girlfriends' )

this one i think would work best read aloud, performed: Black Lace Bra Kind of Woman )

and finally: A Man in My Bed Like Cracker Crumbs )</lj-cut.
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75. Milosz's ABC's, Czezlaw Milosz. "The ABC book is a Polish genre, a literary form loosely composed of short, alphabetically arranged entries." i would have gotten more out of this, i think, if i'd read more of his other writing and if i knew more history. sometimes dry, but sometimes lyric, sharp, eloquent, and i learned many things i didn't know and wouldn't otherwise have learned.

76. Making Stuff & Doing Things: A Collection of DIY Guides to Doing Just About Everything, Kyle Bravo, with contributions from a whole bunch of other people. begins with "How to change the world in just four easy steps: 1. Get off your ass. 2. Write, talk, listen, participate, read, volunteer, take in new ideas and spread your own. 3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 many times. 4. Give another person these instructions." and continues with, well, just about everything. )very cool, and definitely a bunch of it i want to poke at sometime soon. dandelion wine! when's dandelion season?

77. The Darkest Hour: Death Row Stories and Interviews, Nanon Williams. rough, powerful stories. a little better idea of what you deal with, and a more conscious admiration for it, pook.
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74. Skin: Talking About Sex, Class, & Literature, Dorothy Allison. almost entirely powerful, amazing writing, the first and last few essays especially. about class, gender, sexuality, writing, about learning how to tell the truth, about living with and through terror and shame of many kinds and coming out the other side, about remaking the world. about family and community, about that sense of home and belonging and the ways in which it can make us strong and rip us right apart, be our hearts and our roots but still allow such betrayals.
i got bogged down in some of the essays more concerned with second-wave feminism and what she dealt with as being first a part of that community and then her ostracism from it (for being anti-censorship, into S/M, butch/femme, for not being anti-pornography, etc)...i suppose it's a very good thing that at least in my life i haven't seen much of that particular ostracism, that the world has changed some, in ways that help heal that rift. but it's worth reading, to me, even if some bits seem more foreign to me ("Public Silence, Private Terror" was a good one) -- many of the essays poke at my brain in ways that it needs to be poked at. and, as always, there's her sharp humor woven through it; "The Theory and Practice of the Strap-on Dildo" made me laugh out loud in the bookstore.
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all three of these are re-reads, though i'm not sure i finished the Chandler book the last time i read through it.

71. Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

72. Buffalo Gals and other Animal Presences, Ursula K. Le Guin. a book i like very much, especially the stories. [ profile] lyonesse reminded me of it with a mention of Coyote in "Buffalo Girls, Won't You Come Out Tonight", and "She Unnames Them" is one of my most favorite story/poems.

73. The Simple Art of Murder, Raymond Chandler. slow going, this one, and i like some of the stories less than others. the first and the last i like best, i think: "Spanish Blood" and "Nevada Gas".

"She Unnames Them":
... )
None were left now to unname, and yet how close I felt to them when I saw one of them swim or fly or trot or crawl across my way or over my skin, or stalk me in the night, or go along beside me for a while in the day. They seemed far closer than when their names had stood between myself and them like a clear barrier: so close that my fear of them and their fear of me became one same fear. And the attraction that many of us felt, the desire to feel or rub or caress one another's scales or skin or feathers or fur, taste one anotherís blood or flesh, keep one another warm—that attraction was now all one with the fear, and the hunter could not be told from the hunted, nor the eater from the food.
... )
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70. Jump and Other Stories, Nadine Gordimer. well-written little stories, from a horrifying "story for children" that's really not for children at all to sideways stories of terrorism and 'regime change', told with an elegant detached narrative from unexpected perspectives.

it was quite good, but can i please read something light and fluffy now?

and also in the really-not-light-and-fluffy department:
[ profile] simplykimberly had an extra ticket for the play Finn in the Underworld, the last show of the last day of this run at the Berkeley Rep. it's a ghost-story of sorts, and also a story about fears that are large and looming and fears that are right up-close and intimate. and it's really, thoroughly disturbing, and possibly the scariest play i've ever been to.

notes on the play, including bits about the plot )

...the disclaimer/warning "intended for mature audiences only...contains graphic sexual behavior and language" just doesn't cover it. very well done.
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69. A Burnt-Out Case, Graham Greene. lent to me by a friend in boston, in the middle of a conversation about having walls up, not trusting people, et cetera. i'm still not sure what he meant by it or what i think of the book...
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65. [ profile] lyonesse's werewolf novel. three times through, with commentary and all, so i figure it pretty much counts even if it's not actually finished yet. i'll keep up with the reading as it gets written. *grin*

66. Beloved, Toni Morrison. one of those books that's been on the 'i should read that' list for a long time. good, but much stranger than i thought it'd be, and hard and harsh in places. but good.

67. Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman. it felt lighter, a simpler story, than a lot of his writing. but, as expected, i quite enjoyed it.

68. The Bone People, Keri Hulme. i picked this one up yesterday evening, read a little, and then woke up at 4am and pretty much just read straight on through until i finished it. i'd say it's good, but i can't tell whether it's very good or if it just happened to match up exactly with where i am at the moment. the writing style's eccentric, fitting spelling and punctuation to the flow of the dialogue and story...and it was just-right, at least for me. there were some turns of phrase or perspective that were startling, not because they were new but because they felt like something pulled straight out of my own brain. eh, so. weird. also, it makes me want to move to New Zealand.
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63. And I'm Glad: An Oral History of Edisto Island, Nick Lindsay and Julia Cart. transcription of oral histories of Edisto Island, SC. the stories were first written down in the 1960s and 70s, and came from people whose memories went back through their family and community to the early 1800s: stories of Kwibo Tom and his brother who first came over from West Africa (they came free, but one way or another their wives and children were sold as slaves when they arrived), of Gullah, of the slave culture on the island through the 1800s, of the War and Peace and Reconstruction, of the Depression and work on the island, of leaving and returning, all the way up through what Edisto is now. one thing that stood out was that time on the island is marked by the storms as much as anything else, and what vivid memories people hold of getting through them. there's one first-hand account of the hurricane of 1893, which wiped out most of the island (people, buildings, livestock) and made it impossible to grow anything on the land for two years afterward.

64. Transmetropolitan, Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson. yeah, all of it. so now i've got Spider's gonzo thrash and stomp in my brain along with the song of Gullah. makes for a weird perspective.
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46. Sunshine, Robin McKinley. another on lend from [ profile] jencallisto, and another that i'm tempted to pick up and re-read not three days after i finished it. magic and vampires and cinnamon buns.

47. The Hundred Secret Senses, Amy Tan. i'm pretty sure i read this before, some number of years ago. she's good, but i think my mind wasn't in the right space for the book to really reach out and grab me.

...and now i'm out of new books to read, again. but i ran into [ profile] asarwate this afternoon, and he said he'd lend me a pile more, and i should really get back to the library as well. i hear they've got books and all.
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45. War for the Oaks, Emma Bull. could've sworn this one was on the list already, but i guess i read it before the start of this year. after finishing Finder, re-reading this was slightly easier to justify than reading that one over again immediately. which i may still have to do. i'm also trying to read The Hundred Secret Senses, but i get bogged down in the multitude of stories and detail and then pick up other books instead.

[book log]

Mar. 29th, 2005 09:11 pm
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I paused on reading for a little while, but paused on recording what I've read for longer. I think I've lost track of some. Also, I think I'm having trouble translating what's in my head (thoughts and writing and descriptions and all) into words that make sense to other people, so perhaps I just won't say much this time around. These were all good, solid, well-enjoyed books.

17. Mockingbird, by Sean Stewart. (same author as The Night Watch.) Loas and magic and family and writing and life. Good book.

18. Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Yeah, I've read it before, but not for quite awhile.

19. A Fire Upon the Deep, Vernor Vinge. I don't think I had read any of his books before. Read this one on the plane cross-country (back and forth) and in the interstices of time during the excellent book, and good solid sci-fi escapism for me.

20. A Short, Sharp Shock, Kim Stanley Robinson. Tight, not a long story, but winding. Many things are left unexplained, and that's just fine.

21. Tehanu, Ursula K. LeGuin. I'm fairly sure I read this before, but that was also so long ago that all that was left in my memory was familiarity. I've liked everything of hers that I've read.

- re-read Strangers in Paradise, which doesn't count because it's already on this year's list once
- keep falling asleep a short bit in to R. Buckminster Fuller's Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth which is interesting and all, but kinda weird.
- read half of Jhonen Vasquez's Squee...and then fell asleep under a heavy blanket on the couch wearing too many clothes and had really very disturbing fever-dreams. *shudder*
- re-read bits of Galen Rowell's Vision: The Art of Adventure Photography, which isn't really a book that needs to be read all at once. some neat stories and some truly amazing photography - a gift from my aunt and uncle one recent Christmas.
- read a bunch of a Harper's Magazine that a friend left behind after that last art-day.

That's all I remember, right now.

[book log]

Feb. 5th, 2005 07:09 pm
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11. The Land of Laughs, Jonathan Carroll. "Americana and horror", the blurb on the back said. And that's pretty much spot-on, with a motif of masks and puppetry. The writing was good, the thread of the novel wove through detail and characters both mundane and bizarre, between an eccentric sort of pleasant and something much more sinister and strange.

12. The Lives of Christopher Chant, Diana Wynne Jones. Lighter reading but not quite fluff; almost a children's book but not quite, or perhaps a very good children's book.

Only two more books left from the stack that [ profile] jencallisto brought me. :)
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10. The Alleluia Files, Sharon Shinn. Ooh! Fluff! But neat, interesting, good fluff! I read another of her books (Jovah's Angel) a few months ago and quite enjoyed it, and I've got get another one waiting for me in the stack from [ profile] jencallisto.
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1. The Bone Collector, Jeffery Deaver. Lots of suspense and gory description.
2. A Hat Full of Sky, Terry Pratchett.
3. Exile's Valor, Mercedes Lackey.
4. Midnight Days, Neil Gaiman.
5. The entirety of Transmetropolitan, Warren Ellis. I will absorb this into my brain, because it is full of snarky gonzo goodness. (Thank you, [ profile] violin!)
6. The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver. She also wrote The Poisonwood Bible, and they're both strong, excellent books.
7. The Onion Girl, Charles deLint.
8. Persepolis / The Story of a Childhood, Marjane Satrapi. "...memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution", as a black-and-white comic. Different, very good, powerful. ("Comic" becomes really not the right word for this sort of book.)

I bought On Food and Cooking, finally. Good stuff. Also picked up the two Death mini-books. I used to own both of them, got them both signed, gave one away, and sometime over the last couple of years the other one (signed to me and all) has disappeared. So I'm sorry to have lost it, but now I at least have new copies. Hurrah for gift-certificates!


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