Saturday, April 24, 2010

Currently reading, iteration the second

I tend to have bookmarks in a wide variety of things at once. Here's what I'm currently occupying myself with. (NB: Guy Gavriel Kay's Under Heaven will join this group as soon as it arrives this week.)

Katherine Briggs, The Fairies in Tradition and Literature. Story research for Seen. Briggs is a giant in the field of folklore, and rightly so. 

Catherine Fisher, Incarceron. I started this because I'd seen so many people recommend it (including Laura Miller, who is my favorite book critic) that I couldn't not read it. So far, I'm more impressed with the political intrigue sections than the prison sections, but I believe that to be a result of my own preferences as a reader, rather than due to any flaw in the text. And at 133 pages in, I'll definitely add my voice to the chorus of recommendations.

Samuel R. Delany, About Writing. I really like reading writers on writing. Even when I disagree with their advice or find it inapplicable to what I am interested in doing, I love reading what they have to say about the process of writing. And I find it particularly useful at times when, like now, I am consciously trying to rethink my own writing. Reading Delany's thoughtful discussions of writing makes me even more jealous of this year's Clarion students, who get to spend a week studying with him.

Susan Cooper, Over Sea, Under Stone. The plan is to reread (for the eleventy hundredth time) all of her The Dark is Rising  series this weekend. I love these books. They began my love affair with all stories Arthurian. I'm guest lecturing for a King Arthur in Literature course this week, so rereading this series counts as lecture prep.

Jedediah Berry, The Manual of Detection. Smart, and beautifully written. A fantasy noir. I picked it up due to the jacket copy: "... a string of crimes committed in and through people's dreams." I'll finish it because the prose is so elegant I can't not read the next sentence. I'm wickedly jealous that something this skilled is a debut novel.


  1. Ha! I really enjoyed The Manual of Detection. I felt like Berry and I sometimes go walking in the same neighborhoods of imagination. Also the writing: delicious!

  2. Oh man, I just couldn't finish Manual of Detection. The going through other people's dreams thing is starting to get a little tired (Paprika, etc) and I haven't even gotten to the part with dreams--it's just kind of humdrum and bleh and I am bored to tears.

    Cat V.

  3. I think if I were reading The Manual of Detection for plot or character, I would have stopped. The plot is tenuous, and the characters aren't fully realized. But I just love the way the voice of the story sounds in my head, and I am enjoying the way the weird is organic to the world of the book. Plus, I'm finding it oddly calming, and since this past couple of weeks has been OMG!Drama... for me, it's a good read.

  4. I didn't think the plot was as tight as a true mystery calls for, but the way the book made me feel like I was strolling through a mad collision of a noir film with a Magritte painting (confession - am smitten with Magritte, so a book has an unfair advantage when there are carnivorous bowler hats)was completely addictive. Also, I think it's funny that we shelve it in "Mystery"...

  5. I think I found it in "Mystery," too. Ah, well.

    I'm not a huge fan of the straight up noir, so I think that's one of the things that I'm enjoying about this - it's sort of a bonkers noir, and winningly so.

    Also, yes. Carnivorous bowler hats are fabulous.