Back from vacation and -- actually slogged through almost another whole work week since then. Vacation was lovely, beach was pleasant and the saltwater pool at the house we rented was soooooo pleasant I don't know what this crazy technology is but being able to spend time in a pool and not come out with my hair smelling like chlorine is amaze. Got lots of time in with my parents and sister + my nieces. Also got a lot of quality reading in which, together with the rest of the past month since I posted, gives me a pretty long list here which I'll try to handle in bullet points unless I really have something to say.
)• What are you currently reading?
In the middle of my fourth Tessa Dare novel (A Lady by Midnight
) as well as Starling
by Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae, a m/m romance that stultiloquentia
recommended. • What did you recently finish reading?
Bullet points (or dashes since I don't remember how to make bullet points), the ones elsewhere in this post are cut-and-paste:
-A Night to Surrender
and A Week to Be Wicked
by Tessa Dare; the latter particularly was quite funny and makes some ingenious twists on the elopement-and-ruination tropes of the Regency era.
-- Broken Monsters
by Lauren Beukes. I think LB is brilliant but this book was trying to be like seven different things, and about 3 of them worked? Recommended mostly for the dead on social media satire/pastiche and the exploration of contemporary Detroit. Also has a well-drawn mother daughter relationship among POC protagonists. Avoid if gore/body horror/serial killers are deal breakers.
-- The Story of a New Name
and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay
by Elena Ferrante. Books 2 and 3 in the Neapolitan Cycle (I read the first, My Brilliant Friend
, a while ago, and book 4 is coming out September 1). Follows the two main characters through the 60s and 70s in Italy. Lots of daily life and politics, smart and often brutal examination of class. Lots
of domestic abuse, including marital rape, which is included in the context of a very pointed feminist critique (the women in these books are not always easy to like, but the men are universally along a scale of toxic to brutal to -- at best-- useless. For all that, a good third of New Name
takes place at a Mediterranean beach resort and so was pretty great to read by the pool. I wouldn't recommend these to everybody but if 'feminist roman a clef about class politics on the Italian Left in the mid-20th century sounds, anchored around a complex, emotionally intense friendship between women" sounds like your jam, then do it. Definitely should read these in order, though.
-- In the Unlikely Event
by Judy Blume (this is her new novel for adults). I felt like this was . . .anthropologically interesting? In a way it is to US air disasters and New Jersey in 1951 what the Ferrante books are to Italy in the 70s, but that's necessarily more familiar to me as an American reader. Too many point of view characters, some of whom are definitely more developed than others.
-- Paper Towns
by John Green. Liked this a lot, good beach read with some surprising moments of insight.
-- The Green Road
by Anne Enright. I picked this up because it was on the Man Booker shortlist (and available in audio, and pretty short.) Turns out Enright is an Irish novelist of some note that I wasn't familiar with, and I enjoyed her writing in this multigenerational family saga but in a minimalist way that collects and connects small moments to represent many lives over a lot of years. Also between reading this and Broken Harbor
, I feel like I spent a weird amount of time thinking about the real estate bubble in Ireland in the early/mid-2000s. Interesting to see Enright make a lot of the same cultural observations that Tana French did which is not surprising because they are writing about the same place
-- My Life in Middlemarch
by Rebecca Mead. Turns out George Eliot (and her common law husband George Lewes) were pretty cool people. This is engaging personal literary criticism with some memoir and biography thrown in. Probably
only interesting if you've read Middlemarch
recently enough to remember it well (guilty; it also made me want to reread Mill on the Floss
. And to watch the Middlemarch
miniseries from the 90s, which naturally Netflix has taken off streaming since the last time I meant to watch it but didn't.
-- Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves
by Henry Wiencek: This book is annoying. Read The Hemingses of Monticello
instead; or maybe Wiencek's book about George Washington, which is supposed to be good, but this one isn't.
Previously mentioned books I finished: Broken Harbor
by Tana French (very affecting; I would probably not recommend this to anyone with young kids, and definitely not to anyone who doesn't want to read bad stuff happening to kids. Also ( SPOILER )
And The Three Body Problem
by Cixin Liu, which has since (deservedly, I think, regardless of any surrounding shenanigans) won the Hugo Award for Best Novel.
In comics, I caught up with all of Gangsta.
that's been published in the US, and read a lot of The Sixth Gun
by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt, some of which is amazing creative supernatural stuff with a great heroine and some some of which is, "Vision Quest Cultural Appropriation Paloooza -- really, we're doing this?" • What do you think you’ll read next?
I want to read Tana French's The Secret Place
, though I need a break of indeterminate length first, I think. Also I have the back half of Marlon James' A Brief History of Seven Killings
, Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me
and more romance novels calling, and the new Ferrante out on September 1. Plus I'm gonna read the new Jonathan Franzen as soon as the library gets it for me, if only to tweet incredulously about it.