04 February 2006

Unread

Because much as I try, I can't squeeze 72 hours into a 24-hour day, I have many books waiting to be read, books with alluring covers and titles and authors, books that sit in piles, where they whine and purr and gurgle late at night, urging me to pay attention to them, their every page accusing me of neglect and indifference. It's not that I want to neglect them. It's not that I want them to feel spurned and abused. Perhaps I should mention them here -- perhaps that will convince them to be patient...

Here, then, are a few of the books I'm looking forward to reading in the coming weeks and months:
  • Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell: Tobias gave me an advance copy of this at the World Fantasy Convention, and I have been looking forward to reading it for a variety of reasons; it is at the top of the pile, and its screams and screeches for attention late at night scare my cat.

  • Silver Screen by Justina Robson: I got a review copy of this from SF Site, but haven't yet gotten to it. I also got an advance copy of Robson's Living Next Door to the God of Love and haven't read that yet, either.

  • Red Cavalry and Other Stories by Isaac Babel: I love Babel's stories, and haven't yet read these translations of them (from 1994, revised 1998), though I did read the introduction to the book, and enjoyed it. This looks like a good place to start if you haven't read Babel before.

  • Mindscape by Andrea Hairston: I'm excited to read this novel, not only because it comes highly recommended from a couple people whose judgment I trust, and not only because Hairston is primarily known as a playwright (and I am more of a playwright at heart than anything else), but because the novel is published by Aqueduct Press, a publisher I have wanted to become familiar with for some time, and yet have not, for one reason or another, done so. Bad me. Bad bad bad. (Aqueduct is offering a discount to readers who preorder Mindscape through their website by March 1.) Just moments ago, I ordered Writing the Other, so I will be slowly making up for my previous neglect of Aqueduct.

  • Pashazade, Effendi, and Felaheen by Jon Courtenay Grimwood: I've heard many good things about this series, and had an advance copy of Effendi for some time, but was told that the books are best read in order, starting with Pashazade, so for a while now I've had the excuse that I don't have all three books and therefore my neglect is justified. But I recently got the other two books. Now my neglect is less justified.

  • Living My Life by Emma Goldman (Penguin Classics -- 1 volume, abridged): I love the full version of this book, and the good people at Penguin just sent me an advance copy of this new abridgement, due to be released in March. It's a generous selection from the original, and looks like it will be a magnificent way for people to become familiar with both Goldman's life and ideas. I've so far read half of the long introduction by Miriam Brody, and it's clear and thoughtful.

  • The Method Actors by Carl Shuker: I've actually begun reading this, though it's long and I'm not sure I'll have a chance to finish it before I have to return it to the Dartmouth library. It's about various gaijin (foreigners) in Tokyo, and comes with a blurb from David Markson, who calls it "an extraordinarily ambitious and often brilliant first novel". (I know it's generally not very helpful to listen to blurbs, but c'mon, it's David Markson!)
I have nearly finished one book this week, though: In the Shadow of Fame by Sue Erikson Bloland. Bloland is the daughter of psychologist Erik Erikson, and I read her article "Fame: The Power and Cost of a Fantasy" in the November 1999 Atlantic Monthly with great interest, finding it often insightful and fascinating. Unfortunately, the book is ploddingly written and offers no satisfying development of any of the ideas from the original article. Oh well. There are plenty of other books waiting, and I'm sure at least a couple of them will reward my belated attentions.

4 comments:

  1. Of those, I know I want the Buckell and the Hairston. And Silver Screen, which is now the only Robson I haven't read. But on my physical pile at the moment:

    - Past Magic by Ian Macleod
    - Polder: A festschrift for John Clute and Judith Clute, ed. Farah Mendlesohn (ok, I've dipped into this one--it's lots of fun)
    - Darkland by Liz Williams
    - Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff Vandermeer
    - Oh Pure and Radiant Heart by Lydia Millett (that's your fault, that is)
    - The Accidental by Ali Smith (I've been meaning to read this one since November at least. This month for sure!)

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  2. We'll have to trade piles when we're done, Niall, because of those I only have the Millett (let me know what you think, even if you hate it) and VanderMeer (well, the first draft; apparently the new one will be making its way to me soon). The others are all ones I'm curious about, particularly The Accidental, which I'll probably grab at a library pretty soon.

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  3. Do you usually finish a book, even when you don't like it? I'm afraid I don't have that kind of patience. If a book doesn't grab me --for its prose, its subject and/or originality-- within a couple of hundred pages, I let it go.

    It happened recently with Until I Find you, by John Irving. After plodding through the first two hundred pages, I asked myself, "Why am I reading this?" then promptly returned it to the library.

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  4. Living Next Door to the God of Love is choice. Was my introduction to Robson. (Another author to add to the ever-growing list.)

    I have a similar problem, but I have two big stacks: the ones I want to read and the ones I have to read. Fortunately, more often than not, they fit into both categories.

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