Hello! I am, in fact, still here.
In the months since my last little mini-review, I have finished my job at the bookstore, learned Latin, packed up (most of) my worldly possessions, and moved to Lubbock, Texas. It’s been a rather hectic few months.
So far grad school has been about what I expected it to be; to be clear, this is a very good thing. There are, and continue to be, a lot of new things to adjust to, like TAing a class, the higher expectations for work, and renting a house, to name a few.
All in all, I’m extremely glad that I made the decision to do this. I’m thinking I’ll try to write a post towards the end of each month so I can keep track of progress.
Until next time!28 May 2018
The line that I always use when describing this book is that it contains my all-time favorite use of a sewing machine.
Karen herself is whip-smart, hilarious, emotional, stubborn, and courageous; in a word: human. The entire cast of characters is vibrantly alive and unapolegetically themselves, whether they be an African-American lawman, a transgender sex worker, or a queer sex worker like Karen herself. The story hums along at a good clip, the action is satisfyingly energetic, and the intriguing glimpses into the larger world (like the official Mad Scientist licenses, mentions of something like the Civil War, and Rapid City’s history and development) make it feel like there is more to the world than just this story.
Basically: I love this book, and you should give it a try.12 April 2018
I discovered and started this book under false pretences.
I heard about it via an interview on Eidolon with the author. Given the fact that I skimmed this article at work with half an eye on the register to ensure that I didn’t miss a customer, my comprehension was…lacking. Thus, my main takeaway was that this was essentially a modern-day retelling of Sophocles’ Antigone, and not much more–despite the second paragraph:
Like all successful retellings, Home Fire stands on its own merits —- no familiarity with Sophocles is needed to appreciate the novel’s elaborate interweaving of family and state. Like the most successful retellings, the novel casts new light on the original. With a particularly deft hand, Shamsie exposes the complex depths of humanity in Sophocles’ characters and displays how germane the story of the Antigone remains in today’s geo-political landscape. The novel was rightly longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for 2017.
To put it mildly, this book is stunning. Shamsie very deftly weaves a story that shares many characteristics and an overall arc with Sophocles original, but that still stands vibrantly on its own as a satisfying, melancholy story of modern fear and courage in the face of that fear. Definitely worth a read.31 August 2017
- Shattered Pillars (Eternal Sky #2) by Elizabeth Bear: Some of the most well-written, compelling fantasy I’ve ever encountered. A
- Heir to the Empire (The Thrawn Trilogy #1) by Timothy Zahn: Good plain Star Wars fun. B+
- Dark Force Rising (The Thrawn Trilogy #2) by Timothy Zahn: Continues the story, with some fun twists. B+
- The Last Command (The Thrawn Trilogy #3) by Timothy Zahn: A satisfying conclusion. Good character moments. B+
- Specter of the Past (The Hand of Thrawn #1) by Timothy Zahn: I’ll be completely honest; I read this mostly for the Mara sections. B
- Vision of the Future (The Hand of Thrawn #2) by Timothy Zahn: Again, mostly read it for the Mara/Luke sections. B
- Borne by Jeff VanderMeer: A fascinatingly strange and disturbing story. Come for the giant flying bear, stay for the other weirdness. A-
- The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald: My least favorite of the three Sebald works which I’ve read to date, but still worthwhile. A-
- Steles of the Sky (Eternal Sky #3) by Elizabeth Bear: An immensely satisfying and surprising conclusion to an incredible trilogy. High stakes and a fast pace, but it doesn’t forget the importance of the characters and their relationships. A+
- Boxes by Pascal Garnier: An odd, understated little novel originally written in French. Predictable, but with an appealingly dry humor. B
- Searching for Sugar Man: Enormously fun, if heavily skewed toward men. A-
- Atomic Blonde: Outstanding cinematography, fight choreography, casting, soundtrack. The story was a bit obtuse. A
- The Artist: I’m late to the party on this one, but this is an incredible film. A+
- Wind River: I am very conflicted on this film. On the one hand, it is beautifully shot, tightly edited, and well-acted. On the other, in my opinion the assault scene was unnecessary, and I was disappointed that a film set on a reservation was still centered around a pair of straight, white protagonists. B+
- Ladyhawke: In my estimation it is impossible to get more 80s than a film starring young Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Matthew Broderick in which every scene that features horse-riding through the countryside features synths. B
- The Wicked + the Divine: Outstanding. I’m a huge mythology nerd to begin with, and this modern spin on gods is superb. Stunning art as well. A
The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar
This is one of my all-time favorite books. Samatar creates and populates a lushly described, fully realized world and society undergoing change and upheaval, splitting the story into the personal narratives of four women who each relate differently to the events of the story: a soldier, a scholar, a poet, and a socialite. This is a story deeply concerned with the art of story-telling, preservation, and transmission. If nothing else, pick it up to experience some amazingly gorgeous prose. N.B.: this is a companion novel to A Stranger in Olondria, which I would also highly recommend.