* Books and Stories I’ve Read Lately
Or more accurately, books and stories I’ve read since I started this blog. I don’t have the time to read as much as I want, but it’s important that I read as much as I can. One can’t write in a vacuum and each book we read by another author opens up the world of writing a little more.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
2 B R 0 2 B by Kurt Vonnegut
Interesting short story that has a different, actually more typical, take on the idea of immortality and population control than Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. It was originally published in the SFF magazine Worlds of If in January, 1962 and seems to have been all but forgotten–if ever particularly known–since it’s not listed on any official Vonnegut sites. It’s available at Project Gutenberg.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
See One Down
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow
From the Heart: Seven Rules to Live By by Robin Roberts
Okay. I admit I don’t read stuff like this. But there’s a story behind this book. Robin Roberts was ESPN’s voice of the WNBA for the league’s first few years. So she was on a book tour, hitting WNBA games, to peddle her book. She was at a Monarchs game and was the halftime guest and sat with the GM on the floor during the game. My friends bought a book and let me know they were going to get it autographed after the game. They’re usually waiting for me as I wait to collect the final book of statistics for the game. Anyway, as I entered the tunnel after the game, Robin Roberts entered the tunnel at the same time, presumably to congratulate the team on the win. All I could think about was, shouldn’t she be upstairs getting ready to sign autographs? I texted my friends that she was in the locker room and they texted back that the autograph line was too long. So they never got the autograph.
I got curious and read the book. It’s small and light and I don’t agree with her editor, who suggested she do a rules to live by book. The most interesting part is when she’s talking about her life and that makes it worth taking a look at. It’s too slight a book for the price. They did everything they could to make it look like it has more substance than it does and that only got them to a very stretched out 170 pages.
Command Decision by Elizabeth Moon
This is the fourth book in a series and it looks like there’s going to be a fifth book. I picked up the first two books Trading in Danger and Marque and Reprisal at a used bookstore, pretty much devoured them and almost screamed when I found out the story wasn’t near finished. Fortunately, the third book Engaging the Enemy had just come out–in hardback–so I got that and devoured it and the story still wasn’t finished.
So I waited almost a year for Command Decision and by that time lost the momentum I had for series. If I’d known that Moon was writing a serial, instead of a series of books with the same characters, I’d have waited until the series was finished to start reading it. If POV slips, author intrusions, and infodumping can break the fictional dream for a reader, waiting almost a year for the next segment of a story pretty near kills it, especially when you don’t have the time to re-read the previous volumes to get immersed in that dream again.
Die Verwandlung by Franz Kafka
I use the German title for The Metamorphosis because every word reminded me that I was reading a translation and I have an odd distrust of translations. It’s not like transcribing Bach’s Double Concerto for Two Violins and Orchestra to a piano duet. At least Bach’s notes haven’t changed, just the sound of the notes because of the different instrumentation. A translation is an approximation of the author’s prose. Sometimes an excellent translation can transcend the original, but it’s still not the author’s words.
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Death on a Silver Platter by Ellen Hart
I am not a mystery reader. I’ve read maybe half dozen mysteries in my life. Everyone has said I should write mysteries but I can’t write in a genre I’m not interested in. I picked up a couple of Ellen Hart’s books because she did a nice favor for the publisher I work for. I enjoyed the book. It was not like other mysteries I have attempted and put down after two pages because I was already bored to tears. This one wasn’t boring, but I stilled figured out who done it long before the end.
Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
This was Danticat’s Thesis for her MFA at Brown University. She writes in understated symbolism and metaphor that is often beautiful. There are some glaring imperfections to the book. They glare because they are surrounded by simple perfection. But the perfection promises a long and successful writing career for Danticat.
I come from a place where breath, eyes, and memory are one, a place from which you carry your past like the hair on your head. When women return to their children as butterflies or as tears in the eyes of the statues their daughters pray to. My mother was as brave as stars at dawn. She too was from this place. My mother was like that woman who could never bleed and then could never stop bleeding, the one who gave in to her pain, to live as a butterfly. Yes, my mother was like me.
— Edwidge Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory