The OF Blog: January 25-31 Reads

Saturday, January 31, 2009

January 25-31 Reads

Due to the ice/snow mix, I missed a couple days at work this week, thus giving me time to have my biggest reading week so far into this young year. For the first time this year, I will end the week (and month) averaging more than a book read a day. If I somehow manage to keep this pace (doubtful, depending on my mood/work), I will surpass last year's 385 books. This current batch ought to be intriguing to some, due to the wide mixture of styles:

23 Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr., The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction - This late 2008 book of SF criticism would have made my 2008 list for Best Non-Fiction if I had read it before now. Will review sometime later in the year, but I do recommend it for those who like things to consider about the SF genre.

24 Junot Díaz, Drown - Much as I loved Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, this 1997 collection is even more impressive in its power and range. Already it's one of my all-time favorite short fiction collections.

25 G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy - One of the best religious apologias that I have read. Chesterton's prose is outstanding and I suspect even non-believers would find things of merit in what he has to offer.

26 Brian Evenson, The Wavering Knife (re-read) - First read this last spring, but this 2004 collection is outstanding. I'm currently in the middle of an interview with him and I suspect there'll be references to this collection (and others) in it by the time it is completed.

27 Felix Gilman, Thunderer (re-read) - This book made my 2008 Favorite Fictions list. A re-read only improved my opinion of this work.

28 Michael Crowley and Dan Goldman, 08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail - This graphic novel-formatted political summarization of the 2008 Presidential Campaign came out on the 27th and purportedly is the first book on the campaign cycle to come out. Crowley and Goldman do a good job balancing a look at the Obama, McCain, and (earlier) Clinton campaigns with perspectives that alternate between praising and criticizing each of the major candidates. The artwork was well-done and perhaps I'll figure out a way of working this into my lesson planning at the end of the school year.

29 Felix Gilman, Gears of the City - This sequel to Thunderer contains a darker, more mysterious plot and combined with more taut prose, it emerged in my opinion as the stronger work of the two.

30 Peter Brett, The Warded Man - I'll have more to say on this book very shortly in a formal review, but right now, it's going to get a mostly positive review. Some flaws, but not enough to overwhelm the story or the strong prose.

31 Brian Evenson, Altmann's Tongue - This first collection of Evenson's, released in 1994, caused him all sorts of grief from family and Church (he was later excommunicated from the Mormon church due in part to the reception of these often-violent stories). They also happen to be very, very good. More about this in the interview, I hope.

32 Roberto Bolaño, Amuleto - 1999 short novel set in Mexico continues the adventures of Arturo Belano (the author's alter ego) during the early 1970s. Beautiful prose, even if the plot isn't what exactly drives this story. Enjoyed it nonetheless. More on Bolaño this spring or summer.

33 Holly Phillips, The Engine's Child - Lush, beautiful prose. Characters not of the WASP mode. Intriguing, dark mystery. Strong, complex female lead character. The story I mostly liked, although I suspect there will be more written in that setting that will read to a reappraisal of this book. Good to very good, but not great as a result of my suspicions regarding a continuation of this story in the near future.

In Progress:

Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go

Daniel Fox, Dragon in Chains

Future Plans:

Will Elliott, The Pilo Family Circus

David Moody, Hater

Roland Toper, The Tenant

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