02 January 2024

reading list: october - december 2023

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility. London, 1811. I’ve read enough contemporary romance in the recent past that revisiting the ur-text was overdue. Persuasion and Mansfield Park will follow. Theodore Sturgeon, Alien Cargo. NY: BlueJay, 1984. There’s a hard split in science fiction along the fault-line of the Christ story. On one side, Stranger in a Strange Land -- an undisputed masterwork from one of the technocratic guild that also features Asimov, Clarke, and all their hard-science ilk; on the other, Godbody offers a flag for Bradbury, Vonnegut, and Dick to rally round in their focus on the human, rather than engineering, in future difficulties. In this collection of stories, Sturgeon takes on Martians, space travel, children, OCD, and any number of odd ideas in fourteen of his personal favorites. Jane Austen, Persuasion. London, 1818. Imagine having so little faith in one’s self -- or one’s lover -- as to give up a marriage because an uncle’s friend objects! Yet that is the cause of all that follows, eight years later. Fortunately, it’s Austen. All ends well. Jane Austen, Mansfield Park. London: 1814. In which Sir Thomas invites his niece to live with his family. Fanny, unlike his own daughters, is a model child, a joy to all and, by the end, Sir Thomas’s greatest comfort. Olivia Stephens, Artie and the Wolf Moon. Minneapolis: GraphicUniverse, 2021. The Detroit Public Library Big Read this fall is a graphic novel about a family of werewolves. it is lovely: Clear characterizations, evocative colors, and a visceral energy. Just i time for Halloween. Walter Mosley, Touched. NY: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2021. Mosley’s taken to putting out interesting little novellas lately, and I’m loving it. The shorter format lets him take up and explore ideas at leisure, and he’s exploring some very interesting ideas. if all you know are the Easy Rawlins books, well, Touched is shocking. The echoes of Stranger in a Strange Land and Godbody are strong -- and so is the reality of contemporary LA. Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time. NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1936. Another collection, again featuring Nick Carter. This time, the stories of Nick’s childhood, or post-war adventure, are interrupted by vignettes, or single images, of the war or his time in Europe. The contrast is jarring. These stories are small, but taken whole, the collection is just as fine a portrait as a novel could hope to provide. That each unit stands individually as well is what makes Papa a master of the short story form. Margaret Atwood, Hag-Seed. NY: Hogarth, 2016. Hag-Seed is what Caliban calls himself in this revenge story about staging Shakespeare’s own revenge story, the Tempest, in which the disgraced founder of a summer stock program starts a prison literacy class while his tormenters rise into national prominence. but now they’re coming to see his play... DJ Corchin & Dan Dougherty, A Thousand No’s. Naperville, IL: Socurcebooks, 2020. She -- the black and white star of this picture book -- has a great idea. She is then inundated with No’s. What will they do to her idea? Kenwon Graham & Florence Winship, Eloise and the Old Blue Truck. Racine, WI: Western Publishing, 1971. Anthropomorphism is an important step in developing empathy among children, so it is common it see stories in which inanimate objects, or animals, are attributed human characteristics. In this, a gift inscribed by my maternal grandmother, an old cow is saved from slaughter by a truck that breaks down, repeatedly, rather than delivering its cargo. Kristen Alicia, You’ve Been Served. Shrewsberry, PA: Entangled, 2023. Simone is a saucier who needs a new job after insulting a restaurant reviewer. Magic 8-Ball says... move from Oakland CA to East Lansing MI for law school. And somehow, it all works out.