What'cha reading?

I just did the first four Expanse books in like two weeks. Good, good, but I don’t think they were meant to be read back-to-back like that. Trying to force myself to take a break so I don’t completely burn out. It’s interesting reading them next to Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler because they are radically different types of books that are nevertheless telling comparable stories with wildly different toolsets. Anyone have any hot takes about either of these?

Incidentally, any calls for/against LA Confidential? A friend/mentor recommended it highly, but I remember thinking that the film was cryptofascist nonsense, even more so than a lot of copaganda tends to be cryptofascist nonsense, so I’d be curious to hear others’ thoughts.

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I got this book for Christmas, got about 20 pages into it before I put it down. The prose was an odd mix of pretentious and stuffy, and I found it off-putting. Is it worth it to read it if I didn’t like the first 20-30 pages?

It was worth it for me because I’ve always felt a connection to trees and this book is like a long complex love poem to them.

The beginning was hard because there are a lot of characters and the author often starts telling their stories from their parents or even grandparents point of view. It’s a kind of storytelling that meanders around, not necessarily going from point a to b, but with an implied promise that it’s all leading somewhere.

So, I find myself thinking more about the book itself than the issues it raises about humanity and nature. Like why it was written the way it was, what the author was trying to say with the conclusion.

No hot takes but I can’t think of any reason other than misogynoir that explains why Parable hasn’t been made into a massive budget TV series or movie.

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Especially since they just dropped a new season of Altered Carbon with like no fanfare. Seriously, Parable hits so many of the things that the market is crying out for rn.

On another note, I read Specimen Days earlier this year and thought it was such a wild example of the only thing you can get away with writing when your career is established. The last leg–the soft sci-fi–was so full of tropes that were dead in the '90s. It was pretty gratifying as a writer to see a big-time lit writer try his hand at genre and run into a lot of the same roadblocks that I did when I was first starting out.

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I’ve started close and common orbit but I’m not feeling this little girl stuff. It is one of my least favorite things that happens in books. I might just skip those sections until the book reveals why I should care (which I’m pretty sure I already know).

Just finished How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. 3/5 stars, not all that great to be honest. The main character didn’t seem to have a ton of depth, and the ending was a bit lackluster. Still glad I gave it a try though!
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Aw dang, I love that book, I am sorry it wasn’t your cup of tea. Depending on if you want to give Charles Yu another shot, his short story collection SORRY, PLEASE, THANK YOU has some really wonderful pieces in it.

I am currently trying to split my reading time between LITTLE WOMEN and Philip Pullman’s latest THE SECRET COMMONWEALTH. I am giving way more attention to Pullman because I am so happy to be on an adventure with Lyra and Pan again (even though it is kind of bittersweet that they have grown up).

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In an effort to push my own enthusiasm for creative writing, I really wanna finish The Lies of Lock Lamora. I didn’t get far my first time and I’ve heard some vague but good things about this book from a friend. I’m also really curious to read some more Sherlock Holmes stories since they’re the obvious inspiration for my favourite series (Ace Attorney) and a lot of other things I’ve read. The first story kind of…diverged in a way I was a lot less interested in, but I really wanna read some of the more popular ones and really dig into it.

A lot of this is a pretty fun caper/heist book! I would warn that it treats its women characters very badly, enough that I’m pretty uncomfortable recommending it, even though much of it is a good adventure. I guess I’d suggest being aware:

one of two well developed and capable women in the story is fridged while the rest are mostly sexualized and thinly characterized. The only other prominent woman is revealed as the chief late-story villain, which was a good twist! But also served to emphasize how badly handled the other characters are.

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I started reading Roberto Bolaño’s prose last year with 2666, then Savage Detectives a few months ago and currently Antwerp. I’ve had a hard time expressing to people what I like so much about this guy!

He has a cutesy continuity of characters and ideas through all of his work: a poem written by a fake Roberto Belaño, sometimes called Arturo Belano in other books, in Antwerp, shows up 18 years later in Savage Detectives, written by a different poet; a fictional author briefly mentioned in Savage Detectives becomes the absentee protagonist of 2666. He has incredible comedic timing, and even the pages-long sentences are snappy though idk how much of that is due to Natasha Wimmer’s GOAT translation work. She has seriously got to be responsible for a majority of his recognition among English readers.

I can totally see myself gobbling down everything that’s been translated to English. I’ve had the same kind of obsession for years with Ursula Le Guin though it’s impossible to find her translation of the Tao Te Ching in bookstores lol

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Oh thanks for the heads up! These can definitely be the kinds of things that put me off a story. I think I’m still curious enough to keep going and see where this goes while I’m early on, but I might just keep my expectations in check and be wary.

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If you like Bolaño, I would definitely check out Nazi Literature in the Americas. It’s a pretty amazing book: it manages to humanize people who slip into fascism or embrace it whole-heartedly without ever doing that cloying “they’re people too!” thing. Yes, of course they’re people–that’s the best that can be said about them. Or is it? Because they’re all also artists, and it reads at a pretty quick clip.

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His work definitely has that quality in the original Spanish. I was a Spanish lit major, but my curriculum mostly focused on classics, so unfortunately I only recently became aware of Bolaño and Savage Detectives. Even less than a fourth of the way into the book, I’m pleasantly surprised at how often I find myself howling with laughter.

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Try the library system for the Le Guin translation, that is where I found a copy here in Ireland

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This is true: the B Herbert / KJA books all basically ruin the setting of Frank Herbert’s originals and completely fail to understand how their implied history worked. [In particular, they utterly and completely mess up what Herbert elder seems to have had in mind for the Butlerian Jihad’s context - and make the classic prequel writer’s error of having all the widespread technologies of the Dune setting invented within about a decade of each other, in addition to the just generally KJA-quality-writing-and-character-development.]

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I just started Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire and like it a bunch so far.

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You can tell she’s a Byzantine historian. Really interesting world-building. Excited to see what she does next.

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Same! I was craving another big space opera w/ imperial set pieces after I finished Gideon the Ninth (and was lucky enough to get a preview copy of Harrow the Ninth and also blitzed it) and it’s scratching that itch in a much different and pleasant way.

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Omg! No spoilers but was Harrow as fun as the first book?!