I don’t know if its present in her collection, but Roy Spivey, thats an amazing story. I found it read by David Sedaris and I was so blown away.
oh that sounds wonderful, i’ll keep it in mind, thanks.
i’m really bad at reading authors? even if i really like something i tend to just read one book by one person and then move on to something else. it’s a bit silly really
Helen Oyeyemi’s White is for Witching is a ghost story about… gosh, where to begin. a racist old house in Kent. England & its history. women, and what the world does to women. ghost stories, which are histories and stories that won’t leave you behind. and it’s fast and scary and loopy and feverish. and full of love and terror. It’s like nothing else! Except Helen Oyeyemi.
On the subject of Murakami - I’d recommend 1Q84 as well. It is super dense, over 1000 pages, and can definitely ramble on, but it is one of the most rewarding books I’ve read. If you’re feeling ambitious I’d wholeheartedly recommend.
I’d recommend The Dark Lord of Derkholm, which takes a fantasy world and goes “hey what if a cook magical world was under the oppressive dictatorship of the guy from Monopoly and his inter-dimensional and highly exploitative touring company”. It’s a good setting, has amazing characters (several of whom are talking griffins which is cool) and the story has a happy ending. I always find the latter to be a little more important these days.
Seeing lots of folks who like sci fi and weird fiction, so I’d recommend Jeff Vandermeer’s The Southern Reach Trilogy. The series is maybe best if you go in without knowing much, but in the vaguest terms possible it revolves around an organization that monitors and organizes doomed expeditions into an area of coastal land that’s been abandoned and quietly and unnervingly changed. It’s really dreamy and kind of… weirdly unexpectedly heartbreaking without being books that make you cry or even being sad???
On the horror front, RATS NEST by Mat Laporte is a really really excellent collection of short awful (in a good way) grime-y cyberpunk stories with really good ideas and also great prose? One is a series of descriptions of abstract CGI images followed by instructions for inflicting very bad pain on a person in a very monotonous and terrible way. One is about a self-replicating evolving robot falling down a hole forever and sending images back to scientists on Earth. Another one is about psychic cowboys. I read it in one sitting and then had nightmares about it for two weeks.
I’ll start with the best book I read last year, the long ships by Frans Bengtsson. It’s an incredible Viking saga that takes place in the 10th century written by a Swedish man in the 1940s. Bengtsonn (and I imagine credit has to be given his translator as well) writes with this completely deadpan sense of humor that makes the book a joy to read.
On a side note- love Murakami, favorite book of his, probably 1Q84
I think I mentioned it in some other thread here but Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie (I haven’t read the 2 sequels yet but I will soon). It has a really unique imperial culture, the Radchaai, and is kind of a self-discovery story for an AI (among many other things). There is also a really interesting pronoun device in the book where the Radchaai don’t specify gender in their language and every pronoun is translated as “she.” It was one of my favorite recent surprises as I had just kind of picked it up to see what the fuss was about and ended up loving it.
The last book I finished was John Darnielle’s Universal Harvester. I am very conflicted about it. On the one hand, it’s a compelling read that I tore through. On the other hand, it was not telling the story I thought it was telling. And to be clear, the book 100% wants you the think that’s the story it’s telling. I seriously gave it a big “fuck you” when I was done, but it’s also stuck with me.
I’m currently on Caitlín R. Kiernan’s The Red Tree. It’s about an author, Sarah, who moves to an isolated farmhouse in Rhode Island, ostensibly to finish a book, but she’s also fleeing the remains of her relationship with Amanda, although at this point it’s not clear exactly what happened. She starts to discover that the house has a tragic history. It’s a horror novel, written as Sarah’s journal entries. (Seriously, horror story about a lesbian writer in Rhode Island - this seems right up Danielle’s alley.)
Also, since we’re in baseball season, I’ve got Keith Law’s Smart Baseball, Jeff Passan’s The Arm, and Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller’s The Only Rule is it Has to Work in the lineup. Law’s book is the only one I have started, but I have read excerpts from the other two and I am excited to take a swing at them.
I’m struck by how similar your take on Universal Harvester is to ones I’ve seen before when I’ve asked other about whether it’s worth reading. I adored Wolf in White Van and have been hesitant to pick up UH for the reason you describe.
And I’m indirectly taking all of your baseball books as personal recommendations…I love baseball and baseball-adjacent lit (and I’m on the prowl for stuff to teach constantly) so I’ll check some of these out.
I’m just starting in on Stephanie Powell Watts’s first novel No One is Coming to Save Us, which is a look at what the American Dream means when it collides with the rural South and Blackness, all of which is to say it’s a loose echo of Gatsby. I’m super, super hopeful about it because everything about it seems up my alley. I can’t fully rec it yet, but I’m feeling good about it at the outset.
It’s tough with Universal Harvester. It’s almost impossible to talk about without massive spoilers, but I also think it’s probably a more effective book if you’re aware of the bait-and-switch.
I’m not going to say anything specific about the book, but I’m going to put a spoiler tag on this anyway: I thought the way Firewatch’s storyline played out was a letdown and I got similar feelings from UH.
this is a wild shot in the dark for ya’ll baseball fans - have either of you read The Universal Baseball Association by Robert Coover? a friend of mine liked it quite a bit and I’ve been meaning to get to it (along with The Only Rule… tbh).
I’m realizing now I’ve hardly read any books about baseball at all - or at least anything memorable. gonna have to fix that!
I agree about Universal Harvester. Read it a few months ago and while the premise is very interesting the ending seemed to fizzle out - or not meet my expectations? Didnt really stick with me, struggling now to remember the details.
Good to know on the UH front. I won’t look into it more and I think I will read it, and it’s nice to have some vague sense that something’s up with it and may not be what I expect.
As to the question about Coover, no, that’s not one I’ve read yet. I started reading more about baseball for my teaching so I picked up on lots of shorter stuff. The super-famous Bart Giamatti essay “The Green Fields of the Mind”, some of James Sturm’s work, some of Chad Harbach’s shorter writing and excerpts and sections by old-timer ballplayers themselves (like Satchel Paige, Christy Mathewson and Ted Williams). I also really enjoy that first section of DeLillo’s Underworld, the “Pafko at the Wall” section, and I like the rest of the book enough but I think the old thing where that used to be in print as its own novella should totally get brought back.
that list sounds pretty dang cool, what do you teach?
I hadn’t read The Universal Baseball Association, but it’s $2 on Kindle right now, so I just added it to my reading list. Thanks!
you’re very welcome! happy to have suggested it!
I teach first-year Comp. in a University English Department. Got a good deal of flexibility and lots of room to teach basically anything in the cultural studies vein, so fiction, lit, comics, movies and nonfiction and essay all mingle together. Most fun is doing stuff like a short novel alongside comics, poetry and essays. It seems like old hat for lots of people to take pop culture stuff seriously (or at least it does in my world) but the students are often still kinda surprised and happy that they’re allowed to actually like stuff as well as learn from it. Or that they can draw conclusions out of stuff they already like.
that’s awesome, glad to hear the students are so receptive to it.
I just finished Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, which was pretty good. If you’re into heavy, over-the-top violence and exploring the many problems with totalitarian/fascist governments, you’ll probably dig it. It is also, at its core, an interesting take on a love story.
I finally started Dust by Hugh Howey, the third and final story in the Wool trilogy. I cannot recommend this trilogy enough. It has been astounding both in world building and story telling. I would much rather those interested going into it completely dark, so I’m not going to mention anything about its plot.
Last, the Red Rising trilogy is maybe my favorite series ever? Save for Harry Potter? I finished the books last year and they such a fucking mark on me. I don’t know if I have read a book since that I have thoroughly enjoyed and devoured that much (except The Fireman by Joe Hill which was kisses fingers to lips like I just finished a making a nice pizza pie). Red Rising is like a sci-fi Game of Thrones. The action sequences can be a little too predictable and geared toward Hollywood-aesthetics, but the world and characters are so beautifully done. If you choose to read anything, read this series.