opera142: (this shit is bananas)
Well, I figured out my meltdown yesterday--- other than I have my moments of dipshittery. At 8:15 last night, I opened Driftless and less than a paragraph in, I zonked completely out, and slept until Moe nudged me at 5:45, and was like, are you getting up or what? All morning, I felt amazing. I felt taller. The plague must have taken more out of me than I realized.

Moe has been playing (and playing and playing) Age of Dragons, which means the TV has been hogged night after night. He's pokering now, so I went on a TiVo binge. Steph's really trying to get back on my good side--- the Precious is getting beatdown upon beatdown, including one particularily missionary-positioned one from Festus. With bonus!Punk lording over both while patting Festus on the head. Jericho faces DX in a handicapped match, yesyes. TNA does not have any endangered preciouii, however Super Dave Osbourne sorta-kinda makes up for it.

I joined the bookclub at work, despite fears of having to read dopey books when I don't even have enough free time to read all the books I found on my own. My fears were realized! Driftless. UGH. Ugh, I say. I'm 200 pages in, and honestly, I'd rather listen to Shannon Moore sound out the big words in Bread and Jam For Frances.

The book is so grody and 60's. The female characters are either sexy baby-makers or harpy rooners of splendid male dreams. The lead dude, July, is such a Mary Sue. Seriously, it's hilarious. He knows rock stars! He helps a pastor find God! He introduces lonely widower Jacob to the hot chick who likes to be naked. Still have 200 pages to go.


ETA: This probably violates the idea of F!S, but Twig did you write that secret?
opera142: (this shit is bananas)
Half-Price Books had a ginormous warehouse sale at the fairgrounds. Moe and I got there a bit early, so we crashed the MN Beef Expo. We saw a cow poop into a shovel. And every girl rancher wore a sparkly belt and low-rent jeans.

The book sales was a mess. I didn't even get through 1/4 of it. I lost our canvas bag. A super-grody smelling lady rubbed her belly on my butt. Moe got through the line before I got back with my latest finds. Moe got cranky; I felt demoralized.

TV said shopping should make me feel better. I failed TV.
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-3000 MPH in Every Direction - Nick Mamatas, essays and short fiction. I liked the essays better. The stories were good too-- future fiction in particular, Mamatas does well with capturing how people, boring old everyday people would behave in societies with advanced tech. The essays have a strong POV - his- but it's never overbearing or preachy. There are opinions and solutions, but they get presented in ways that make me think.

-Kiss This - Gina Arnold, overview of Punk music. Lame and offensive. When discussing the rise of rap, Ms. Arnold says "Black is finally beautiful". The whole book is her pushing her "punk" credentials (pssst. if you have to tell someone, you aren't) and dividing everything into Punk or Not Punk categories. Her idea of punk is very white, over-educated, comfortably middle-class and prone to attending Lollapolooza.

-Writer's Notebook- - Various, meta writing craft. Some essays got stodgy and academic, and the one about the physical space writing takes up on a page sounded a lot like drunken conversations I had at Perkins while my friends and I tried to be deep and wise artists. I liked it, don't get me wrong but sometimes it strayed into murky theory when the idea was better served by tangible expressions. The book was the worthwhile read for the first two essays: Dorothy Allison's on Place, and Steve Almond's (I think) sex writing.

-Miss High Heels - Anonymous, pr0n. Bleh. This is the kind of porn I dislike the most: a main character so caught up in getting his own fantasies catered to that he never once lifts a finger to satisfy anyone else. Chapter after chapter of this guy getting his rocks off by not-so-forced crossed dressing and weak punishments, and never ever a single instance of giving pleasure back.

- Breath & Bone -- Carol Berg, fantasy. I loved this. The first chapter disappointed me because, as a sequel that picks up where the first book left off, I was very much looking forward to Val's new life as the indentured servant of the Evil Bastard Prince Osriel. Instead of lurid subtext and woe, it turns out Osriel is really a good guy with good intentions. I wanted lurid! But, the story soon provided even better villains, and the good guys didn't like each other, everyone was screwing everyone else over, and the magic was belivable. The ending felt rushed and a bit too pat. Someone needs to teach awesome fantasy writers to quit writing huge epics so that they're not so sick and tired of the story by the time they get to writing the endings.

- Wolf at the Dinner Table-- Augusten Burroughs, memoir. This felt very scraping the bottom of barrel-y. It doesn't necessarily contradict his previous stuff, and I realize that he upplayed or downplayed certain aspects of his life to aid the other stories, but it felt very contradictory to read about him being as gosh-gee little boy who wanted to play catch outside with his dad when his first few books over-characterized him as fussy and faux-elegant.

Oddly, my strongest reaction about this book happened while I was reading reviews on it at Amazon after I had finished it. Someone had accused Augusten of playing the victim, and stated that as long as he wasn't being tortured and had a roof over his head and food on his plate, that he wasn't being abused. BULLSHIT.

BULLSHIT.

One of the things that really, really messed me up as a kid was the truly fucking idiotic idea that abuse involves outlandish torture. Made-for-TV movies and Readers Digest articles were always showcasing the electric cords and the bathtub drownings. When you're a kid, and that's what TV is telling you is abuse, suddenly drunk-ass mom shoving you down the stairs or dad showing you a bullet with your name written on it doesn't compare. Which can only mean one thing: you really are a rotten kid who drives your parents who would be otherwise be caring (look how nicely they treat the neighbor kids) to oh-no-not-abusive at all acts. Bullshit.

- Rouge Pulp - Dorothy Barresi, poetry. Okay when she wrote about personal stuff and wasn't needlessly using $5 words. Boring when she tried to go for deep. Strippers pay an emotional price for what they do? Gosh, I didn't realize that. Vietnam was a tough war? Gosh, I didn't realize that.
opera142: (this shit is bananas)
Final Girl Daphne Gottleib.

I liked Why Things Burn, this not so much. Either she was taking the easy route or I was missing the point of the poems. WTB felt gutsy to me, fresh takes on universial subjects. FG felt sorta " is bad mmmkay" ish. The poem about dressing mom's corpse got me. The rest, especially the whiny, post-sex stuff, never lilted for me.


Spices - a global history Fred Czarro.

My interest in food history has wanned, and this wasn't a good read anyway. Too broad, a lot of the writing read 8th grade essayish. It dealt only with 5 spices, and Fred never explained why he picked those 5. Pepper I can see. But cloves? Perhaps my white-trash cooking skills are to blame here, but it seems like there are more important spices in the world than cloves. Also, I thought chili peppers were a vegetable. Ending the book was a creepy, 60's-style praise of the industrial spice complex.

The Mirador and Corambis Sarah Monette

Oooh. The Mirador rocked. At first, I thought I was going to hate it. There's a spoiler in the back blurb that I thought would have worked better as a surprize. "Omigod, Tabby's a spy for the Bastion!"

The Worldbuilding is awesome. Monette does great work with showing the city through the POV characters (there's 3)eyes. They have unique angles and the description was fun.

Felix's voice improves as well. Throughout the first 2 books, we're told he's snarky and witty and intelligent and cutting, but we never really see it. Granted, he's mad in the first book and healing in the second, but it was still way more tell than show, and the little bits of show we did get were lame examples. In the third, Monette found Felix's snark. I can't remember the lead-in dialouge, but there's a run where Felix replies to someone's attempted snark with "Yes, rather.' and it's OOOH BURN. (lame example is lame, sorry)

The bad guys also improve. Less heel for story's sake and more heeling because that's how they choose to get things done.

Sadly, the awesome that was The Mirador gets fumbled with Corambis. At this point, Felix and Mildmay have been sent into exile, and I was so trusting Monette and her mad worldbuilding skillz. They head to Corambis which is dealing with a bit of rebellion. The rebels are trying to awaken a death engine monster thingie buried in a maze. DeathEngine kills most of the rebels; the remaining one, Kay, is blinded and has to surrender to the jerky Duke of Glimmering. He becomes the 3rd POV. The first 3rd of the book is awesome, scary creepy steampunky fantasy. Then it all goes splat. When the sideplot monster (the Automaton of Corybant) finally shows and wants to get all up in the magic train's grill, that chapter's POV is from blind dude Kay's. And Felix takes it out with one magic bolt. A bit of a letdown.

After that, I don't know if Monette lost interest in her story or had a deadlin or what, but the damn book felt like dirge. Tons of short, jumpy chapters, like she was nano-ing the thing. Stuff was either ended too quickly (the death engine got dumped into a room that nulls magic), or left hanging completely (the point of the mammoth fossil was what?).

Felix got a little too MarySueish again. In The Mirador Tabby could have easily fell that way, but the strength of character motivation (hers and others) keep her readable and awesome. With Felix in Corambis, especially when it was Felix and Mildmay interacting, it's just felt like the whole thing was set-up to serve Felix, and not in an interesting way at all.

Corambis aside, this is one of my favorite series ever, and I 'm looking forward to reading more of Monette's work.


Wee writing ramble: When I finished books, I like to go online and read others' reviews. I was a little confused by all the readers who were surprized at the ending of Melusine the first book of the series. Basically, they happy to discover a 2nd book was in the works. I came late to the series, so I knew going in there was more than 1 book, but even in reading it, especially when I got the last 50 or so pages, I knew there was way too much stuff nowhere near being wrapped up. I don't know if I'm starting to read more as a writer or if I'm just a stickler for plot threads.


Probation tiems for m.hardy. Geez, Matt, geez. Stop posting pics of your sloppy dinners on Twitter. Also, perhaps all your trucker hat wearin' bottle blondes would stick around longer if you didn't hold them by their faces all the time. Less grabby hands, more working out. kthxbeefy?
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The Rituals of Dinner-- the origins, evolutions and eccentricties of table manners Margaret Visser. UGH. Reading this book was a death march. I had to read some of the chapters in 10-page increments because that was all the boring, racism, and der? I could take. What frustrated me the most was the lack of women. I read a lot of food/cooking history because lots of time it's women's history. I get clues as to how women lived. There weren't many people in this book, but the few that showed were men. No fun facts anywhere in to put in my fiction, no interesting tidbits to inspire me to the next bit of history. Very Bad Book.

Supernatural Origins Graphic novel. Also terrible! The artwork was terrible-- everyone looked like melting zombies. The story was stupid. Why was John Winchester fighting Spring Heel Jack?

Slouching Towards Bethlehem Joan Didion. I love Joan's writing, there's weariness to it, and a sort of cynicism, but it never gets to the point of jaded-as-affectation. Shes direction and travel as descriptive techniques, which is either brilliant or sad reflection of how close-quartered the thinking of LA residents are. The essays here are old (some subjects: Joan Baez, hippies) but the strength of the writing keeps them interesting. There's a historical feel to them, glimpses of life then that let them feel like a reminder of life/people/politics/thinking then rather than dated pieces of stuff I don't care about.

Mesuline & The Virtu Sarah Monette. Holy cats, guys! I LOVED THESE. I picked up Mesuline on a lark. The cover art was a bit overwroughtedly romance novel, and I vowed that if any of the characters ended being vampires that I would punch shit. Instead of vampires, I got a balls awesome fantasy story.

The world builing was lovely. The place names *swoon* the place names. The Crown of Nails, the Mirador, Kekropia, Khloïdanikos, The Gardens of Nephele. The time-setting was much later than run-of-the-mill fantasy. V. early Victorian, maybe late whatever-came-before-Victorian (georgian?), which was refreshing and enchanting. The book is told from 2 povs, which normally annoys me because I end up liking one character or storyline better and the chapters about the other seem like interuptions. I liked both Felix and Mildmay (though Felix wore on me a bit once I got to The Virtu-- he's gets very MarySueish in places), and both had interesting stories.

The big villains were scary-fun, the minor villains sometimes came off cardboardy. Stupid or stubborn because it aided the plot rather than themselves. The minor characters were colorful and fun and real. The world the characters live in was the best part, and Mildmay has my affection. I ordered the next two books from Amazon and I'm very antsy for them to arrive. GO READ THESE BOOKS.
opera142: (whee)
Moe and I hit Half-Price Books warehouse sale today. SCORE. I got a book on medieval manuscripts, Tables, Ladders & Chairs dvd, an armload of short story collections, and tons more. Nothing was over $3, and we spent $62.

Last night, ahhh. I dreamt of Christian Bale and we had a fuck marathon. Crazy, nasty, mindgame sex. Man, he gave great hickies. I'm kinda warm just typing about it.

And now I'm all 'I should watch some Bale flicks'. It's weird how dreams can do that. I've always liked Bale, but now I'm dreamsex!enchanted.
opera142: (this shit is bananas)
Man it was hard getting back on the reading horse after Bastard Out of Carolina. My brain went 'I'm satisfied by this story, emotionally, intellectually, ego-ly, for why do we need to read more?'

Because we will gets the dumbs if we don'ts.

The Cat Ate My Gymsuit. by Paula Danzinger. This sucked tremendous ass. No idea why this is still in print. It's so 1972, and not in a good "moment in time" way. It's dated, and I doubt it was a good story even then. The premise is a fat, snarky chick has low self-esteem. Enter hippie teacher who teaches her class "inter-personal communiciation". Buzzwords from 30 years ago for the fail! Teacher gets fired for being awesome, kids protest. Fat girl's dad does a heel turn--a totally off-base turn that seemed too much for the story, and way too much for the characters to be so nonchalant about it. Eventually, the PTA and assorted ilk get learned/served on the awesome of teacher. Teacher is all Screw You Guys Anyway. Fat chicks learns to wear her purple pantsuit (with matching necklace, bracelet and ring) with pride. LAME.


The Plucker by Brom. This sucked too. The artwork was interesting, and the premise seemed interesting-- a horror-bent ToyStory. But it ended up being re-telling #134354 of Magical POC saving whitey from Ancient&Terrible Evil. Why did the A&T Evil use modern slang and elevated dictation? How come POC always gotta die to save whitey? Why is it stuff that toots its own edgy horn never edgy or surprizing?


Time to Write by Kelly Stone. Today's theme: Sucking. I read this on a recc for writer's block. Every single line was a variation on Writer's Name, author of Some Dumb Book, Probably a Thriller or Romance, used This Dumb Techinique while writing Some Other Book. Terrible writing.

O' Pioneers by Willa Cather. This sucked the least, and betrayed the hardest. The first couple of chapters were about Main Girl taking charge of the farm after her father passed on. It's the 1800s, she's smarter and more able than her brothers. They acknowledge this, but have some male bluster in them. Their farm is crappy, they're poor. Her brother uneasily, reluctantly agree to do things her way... awesome premise, right. I turn the page after the family agreement and the chapter started out like Seventeen years later, the farm and the family were succesful.

WHAT. NO. I wanted those 17 years. I wanted the stuggle and worry and the double-questioning one' self and self-doubt and all that good stuff. That's where the story was, Willa. Not in the dumb romances and infidelities and French boys dying of appendix attacks.
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-Under My Roof by Nick Mamatas ([personal profile] nihilistic_kid)

The short: Political and social satire.

The long: Herbert, who can read minds, and his dad build an nuclear bomb. They encase it in a garden gnome and Dad declares their property a free nation. Cue media circus.

Herbert was written brilliantly. He can read minds, but mostly he doesn't. Because he's 12, and not all that interested in what adults think about.

The story's strength comes from involving the reader. It's not afraid to show the shitty side of solutions, beliefs, and etc. Everyone's idea of utopia varies, and crazies and losers and scary sorts will gloom on your gig. Or they'll go make their own, and you have to be okay will Annoyingville existing just down the block from your Perfectplace.

I stopped a lot, and thought about my own lines in sand. Freedom is fluid concept, and it's one people are willing to barter, but not share.


-The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom, and Their Lover by Victoria Janssen ([personal profile] oracne.

The short: Erotic romance

The long: Camille is a duchess with an impotent, jerk of a husband, and he's decided to kill her. First, she gets it on with a stable boy in order to produce an heir. Then she figures she'll likely get killed away. She runs off with her maid, the stable boy, and her guards with the goal of meeting up with a politically connected past lover and regaining her duchy.

I liked the plot (duchess condemned because he lout of a husband has bad spunk) much more than the sex. Unfortunately, the plot was minimal, more a premise really. Sex scenes made up the bulk of the book, and only two worked for me. My favorite was the bath scene between the stable boy, Henri and Nico, an attendant at the local baths/brothel. He was weary, she liked him because he wasn't rude. It had a good set-up emotionally and sensually-- the descriptions of Nico barely dressed and thoroughly wet were quite tasty.

The other scene that worked was the Duchess' threesome with her guards. Again, there was good set-up emotionally, and this scene was blissfully relaxed. Lots of foreplay, massages and touching which is oddly rare in sex scenes. Also it was a new blend of characters: Camille is in her 40s, her guards are eunuchs. It was a tinglepanty reminder in how much the joy of sex comes from the whole scene, not just the penetration.

The rest of the scenes had a weird undercurrent to them. Similar to fanfic's THIS MUST BE THE BEST SEX EVAR vibe. The maid character came off as pushy, and that's probably why I didn't like any scene she was in. And sadly, the my least favorite cliche "fucked through the mattress" is not limited to fanfic.


-Batista Unleashed by David Bautista and Jeremy Roberts. Dave and Jeremy aren't on my friendslist, but [personal profile] angstbunny would not shut the fuck up until I read this. And gawd, she gave me this weird code to follow so I could pick out all the sekrit love notes from Dave to her in it. Funny how she never mentioned the line "I really like Opera." though.

And sorry Twig, but this is one of the worst wrestling biographies I've ever read. Dave contridicts himself all the time. He calls Shane Helms a dickhead. He brags about money. BORING.


-Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison. Dorothy isn't on my friendslist either (I WISH), but [personal profile] wishtheworst has talked about this book and Ms. Allison. I'm a total toady when it comes to [personal profile] wishtheworst so I read it.

Wow. Shitty stuff happens all the time to everyone, and mostly they bring it on themselves. The book starts with heartache and ends with heartache, and there's nothing but heartache in between. Bone, a young girl growing up in a white trash extended family, loves gospel music and hates her kid-toucher step dad.

I applauded all the talk about girl masturbation. So often in fiction, female masturbation is shown as weak sub for having a partner--- a last ditch effort, rather than the way a women can get to know her body or explore her sexuality or learn how to deal with shit.

I also like how much wasn't said, which fits that family. Near the end, when her uncle in vowing revenge for her, nothing is said, Bone doesn't even think it, but you get that she believes he's doing it more because he has an excuse for violence, not for her honor.
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Why Things Burn by Daphne Gottlieb.

The short: Poetry

The poems I liked best mixed the mundane with poetic asides. In one, the author used CPR instructions, and added in details on kissing. Vivid and unique, and it worked. The poem conveyed the body's reaction to kissing very well.

Daphne has a clever outlook on like, snarky without sounding bitter, and her voice carried a lot of poems, the date rape ones especially, into readable, compelling, universal ground that I probably would have passed over.

The only clunkers were the suicide note poems. Suicide note poems, really? By an adult? Really? Maybe they were bones thrown to a favorite 14yo niece or something.

I'm reccing this to everyone, and I don't think I've recced (or even enjoyed) much poetry outside of lyrics. Daphne has a bold voice and takes risks in style.


Because They Wanted To by Mary Gaitskill

The short: short stories, lit genre

The long: Long ago, I read Gaitskill's Two Girls, Fat and Thin, and I loved it. Nice mix of lit-style writing with non-lit-style characters. This collection tried for that same blend, but usually failed. The characters, for the most part, never felt real (I'd read one story for about 30 pages before realizing the POV character was female, I thought he was a drag queen). A lot of them felt like the author slumming.

Maybe it's a problem inherent in short stories collections, but Gaitskill's flaws stood out as much as her good writing. Perhaps she has a kindly, eccentric benefactor who mails her 20 bucks each time she uses the word "inchoate".


The Story of English by R. McCrum, W.Craw, R. MacNeil

The short: Non-fiction, the history of the English language

The long: I was glad to see the last page of this book. A little more than I wanted to know about the subject, I guess. I would have liked more on the early history and less on its modern day divisions.

The book is a bit dated (1986), so it was funny to read predictions for the inclusion of the word "modem" into dictionaries. And the chapter on India never guessed at how the customer service industry would be affected.


A Fire in the Sun by George Effinger.

The short: cyberpunk novel

The long: First a rant of which I have ranted before. Dear SF/F writers. I want A story. One. I want to pick up a book and have it be its own contained story. Not part 45 of your 7852 part saga. That's my complaint with this book. I plucked it off of B&Ns shelves, it looked interesting. I brought it home, and 50 pages in realized it was part 2 of a still-not-sure-how-long series (I believe 3 or 4, but possibly 5). -___-

The book was okay on its own, its the story of a gangster in a futurized Islamic world, except that I would have enjoyed it more had I read the first one first, and there wasn't much of an ending because there's more books in the series. And, I figured out the over-ridding plot (5 bucks says it comes out in the next book that Marid the POV character was tricked into killing Umm Saad so that their Godfather could have her brain--- organ transplant technology is much improved in their world) so I'm not much interested in reading the next couple of book., though I might if I get low on reading material.


I've enjoyed David Feintuch's books. Mostly. I gave up on one series when it dragged on too long. But, he's always been someone I check the shelves for when bookshopping. There's been nothing from him in ages. So the other day I Googled him, hoping to find a webpage with a Coming Soon! notice. Instead I found his Wiki and he died a few years ago. Rats.




1. What are your top five favorite pop songs from the 1980s?

"Black Wall" Limited Warranty
"Favorite Shirts" Haircut 100
"Kiss You When Its Dangerous" Eight Seconds
"Don't Change" Inxs
"Blue Monday," New Order

2. What song do you feel a 1980s mix absolutely must include?

"Purple Rain" Prince

3. What group/singer do you feel a 1980s mix absolutely must include?

Duran Duran

4. Which 1980s song are you most sick of hearing?

"I'll Stop the World and Melt With You"

5. Optional question: were you alive during the 1980s? Alive and kicking.
opera142: (this shit is bananas)
Concrete, Bulletproof, Invisible and Fried: My Life As a Revolting Cock by Chris Connelly.

The short: Chris Connelly's memoir.

The long: Sort of a 'What I Did Last Summer' essay, but with drugs and axe-grinding and snarky asides. The axe-grinding was fun, the snark when it wasn't an inside joke was fun, the drug use got tedious. You know how in bad porn, dicks are described in inches (He showed me his 10-inch love muscle), that's how he described drug use. "We did X amount of coke." Rarely were there wacky hijinx or drama. Everyone did drugs and died/went to rehab.

Nothing about creative process, nothing about the rigors of travel (or the joys of it), nothing about the music at all. Everyone came off as boring, uncommitted and untalented. Disappointing.


Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade by Barthe DeClements.

The short: YA novel about mean girls befriending a fat girl.

The long: This was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. I re-read it to see how it stands up to an adult reading. Still a fun read, though it feel a little scattershot in some places. It and Blubber are probably Grandmas of the mean girl genre.

What I liked best in this was the willingness to of the author to let everyone be assholes, not just the heels. The friendless fat girl steals, she lies. The POV mean girl at first befriends her for selfish reasons, one of the mean girls is highly insecure and whiny, but everyone scramble to appease her out of habit. And just because they befriended on fat chick didn't mean they stopped picking on others.


The Revolution Will Be Accesorized by Various

The short: Essays on art, creativity and ego.

The long: I wanted to read something about the active creative process after finishing the Connelly book. Boy, did I make a shitty pick. This was all ego and just as tedious as Connelly's book. Megan Daum's inclusion should have tipped me off.

Most of it was reflection on how great and of course, brave, these artists were to have created something 10 years ago and talk about it endlessly now. Self-absorbtion is not compelling.



Taste: The story of Britian Through Its Cooking by Kate Colquhoun.

The short. Social history of Britian with emphasis on cooking and socialising.

The long. Awesome. Crammed with interesting facts for inclusion into stories. Britain was still rationing some foods almost a decade after WW2 ended. Now I know what the Hell the characters in Are You Being Served? are talking about when they complain about the cafeteria food. Brits eat lots of leftovers!



Here's Your Hat; What's Your Hurry by Elizabeth McCracken.

The short: a collection of short stories

The long: I liked this lots. McCracken occasionally falls into the lit trap of Kooky Characters Who Do Paragraphs of Self-Introspection, but for the most part there is action enough and understandable angst. And she tended to limit the kooky characters to one or two per story so there was an enjoyable focus instead of kooky muddle.
opera142: (this shit is bananas)
If you're wondering how to hasten your marriage into divorce court, here's a simple trick: spend a couple of hours putting up that plastic window-insulator stuff. Wow.

Winter reading thus far:

The Hypocrisy of Disco by Clane Hayward.

The short: A tweener deals with hippies parents, creepy caregivers, a troubled brother and puberty.

The long: Clane recounts her tweener years, first living with her whacked-out hippie mom. They squat in abandoned houses, they live in open fields and the forest. Hippie Mom doesn't like them going to school; she doesn't like them eating anything but brown rice. If the kids try to wear clean clothes she yells at them for being square.

Starvation, another kids' death, pure filth is all over this book. Like most memoirs of this kind, it gets a little repetitive. In some parts, it feels like chapters were cobbled together from a journal and timelines suffer. For the most part though, Clane did an excellent job of letting the horror be the horror. She didn't swamp it with melodramatic writing or mini-lectures.

Cowboys edited by Tom Graham.

The short: Porn featuring cowboys.

The long: I had super-duper high hopes for this. The first story A Heart Full of Scars by Hank Edwards is absolutely gorgeous. It's an Old West love story between a town's sheriff and the new doctor. It's touching, a little curtain-y but without mush or sappiness or needless angst.

Unfortunately, the rest of the stories ran from ok to terrible. The only reason I can't believe for any of "Bearmuffin"'s stories to have included were that BM must be a friend or mortgage holder of the editor.

The Sound on the Page by Ben Yagoda

The short: Meta discussion on style (writing).

The long: Very sludgy. Took me forever to get through it. Worth it though. It was less how-to, and more why. It explained why groups of three (usually) sound harmonious. It explained why you want to encourage or dodge that harmony.

It debated the merits of blending in versus standing out. It snickered at bad writer. It featured interviews with a variety of writers. If the writing itself had been a bit more lively, this would have been one of my favorite books on writing.

The Catch Trap by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

The short: a gay "romance" between flying trapeze artists.

The long: Repellent. Whenever a book features a character thinking I should have let him hit me. If that's what he needed. I can not, will not, call their love romantic. And it wasn't just one scene or one emotional moment. It happened throughout the book. In another scene, Mario (the hitter) pinned down Tommy (the hittee) and threatened to break his arm unless he said "I'm a cocksucker."

Replusive. It's abuse, pure and simple. Present it as non-con, as awful, as abusive and I'm in. Present it as omigod, he's hurting, his psyche is so fragile, and I want to scream.

Also, the writting was about as crappy as it gets. On one page the word "ragged" was used 3 times. Now, I'm all for repeating a word is there isn't a suitable alternative. Finger and wine are always better than digit or drink of the vine. But the repeated use of ragged just came off as lazy.

The slow-clap speeches about tolerance and the ok-ness of gay love and the beauty of trapeze flying were artless and made an already over-long story all the more tedious.
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I've got to wait around on the comp to make my FF draft pick. Ted Ginn, in case you're wondering. In the meantime, I will serve up more spam.

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

A re-read. I'm working on better conveying joy and happy stuff and this book is crammed with that. I forgot there are creatures called Hornswoggles! Fun trip down memory lane, though some of the Oompah's songs read a little clunky.

Steel Chair to the Head by Various

Academic essays on pro-wrestling. READ IT. The slash chapter is especially good-- even if the only author mentioned who I recognized was Kai. Of all people. Well, I recognized Hellfire's too. But I only *know* her by name. It's a little dated, written circa 2000. So Xpac is all over the place (bleeh).

The discussion on the ways wrestling tries to hide teh_seemingly gay was funny and thinky-thinky. The way the camera quick cuts on faces' hugs to make them seem barely there, but will linger on heels' embraces.

Another chapter talked about the marginlization of latino wrestlers, and it was good read on the history of those men. The only thing I didn't like about it was the discussion of the Filthy Animals. For the most part I was shaking my head, nodding yesyes. But the author left off mention of Kidman's participation. Normally, I'm all for forgetting Kidman, but in this case, it felt like the author left out Kidman because he didn't fit with this theory rather than because Kidman is unimportant.

There really wasn't a clunker chapter. Some got sludgy with academic style writing, and the chapter titled S/M was more about economic factors than Taker non-conning M. Hardy. Luckily, econ had been my original major so I was appeased. Barely.

The chapter on Lucha and Mexican Politics will change your views on SuperCrazy. READ THIS BOOK.

Those Prussian Girls by P.N Devear-something-uex

Porn. A little too brutal for my taste, and I never need to read the adjective-noun combo of "tawny turd" again.

Jpod by Douglas Coupland.

Awesome in spots, ruttiness that's beginning to date in others. It's sorta a next gen Microserfs. The cleverness and batshittery was still there. But, there's a disconect with reading Gen Yers talking and behaving just like Gen Xers. Why do they have memories of early 70's stuff if they weren't born yet?

I suppose Doug was sort of caught. If he wrote GenXers having low entry jobs, they'd look like losers. But in writing younger characters, he messed up on their cultural view of the world.

Twin Cities Noir by Various.

Short crime fic set in Minneapolis/St. Paul. One story was snarky and great. The rest varied from obvious to Not Obvious Because The Appropriate Clues Were Not Mentioned Until The Last Paragraph Well After Your Marty Stu Protag Solved the Case. Seriously, your crime/mystery novel should not reveal fact like "I knew the chick was lying about her and Nick's relationship because in WW1 Nick took a bullet for me which rendered him impotent" in the last damn sentence.
opera142: (this shit is bananas)
- Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson

This should have been right up my alley-- sibling rivalry centering around a more beloved child, a fishing village on the bay, historical setting, and yet it sucked. Meant for teenagers, I guess which did the book no favors. A lot of talking down and glossing over and preaching. No real plot, a girl sulked because everyone like her sister more. Her brief crush on an old dude, then the shaming that follow was interesting but it got dropped. In the end she married a hillbilly and saved a baby's life by putting in an oven.

-Right as Rain by George Pelacanos.

Crime fiction by one of the best. Though this was not one of his best. It was a study in the damage authorial ruts can do. In George's case, his character's musical tastes (60s and 70's soul gets talked about endlessly) and the ways it can be difficult for blacks and whites to trust each other. It felt a little re-tready in this book, which was unfortunate because the crime was interesting (meth dealers doing bad things)but it got bogged down in teh_lectures.

-Play It As It Lays Joan Didion

I like Joan's essay writing. I don't always agree with her views, but I admire her forthrightness and her ability to show gritty details without relying on gimmick. I probably would have liked this book more if I were a product of its time period. The book was a 60's update of the 50's depressed heroine. Drug use and gay people and sleeping around unremorselessly not really all that shocking anymore. There was more to the book than shock value, but the datedness, for me anyway, blocked any message.

-The Nightbirds by Thomas Maltman.

Moe thought I would like this. He was wrong. The story is a pioneer family who lives in harmony then not in harmony with the local Native Americans. I figured out the twist on page 24-- the kid narrator is the actually the son of "Aunt" Hazel. There is way too much boring flashback, and the author crammed in way too much backstory and fanfic-like melodrama. Oh noes, mean momma spilled Aunt Hazel's meds and now she will have teh_seizures!

-French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano

I don't know what I was expecting, but what I got was a diet book. A shitty one at that. Mostly a long boring ad for her champagne company, and sometimes filled with laughable "advice" Want to lose weight quickly? Eat nothing but boiled onions. Also, exercise is gross. Don't engage in it if you want to be chic.

-Some Writers Deserve to Starve by Elaura Niles

Writing advice. A lot of it was common sense, and I don't really remember much about it.

-Fondling Your Muse by John Warner

Dumb. I thought it would be a snarky antidote to the usual perky writing advice. Not funny, not helpful. Those unfunny, long-winded, repetitive jokes your Uncle Greg likes to bore everyone with at Thanksgiving... imagine they are about writing, and you will have this book. I got it for free and I feel ripped off.

-Spy Girl by Amy Gray.

Memoir of a chick who worked at a detective agency. MarySueish and vapid (I fit in with the Goths when I wore my Doc Martens!), and calling oneself a spy when all one did was skiptrace is lame-o.

-A Lion's Tale by Chris Jericho.

This deserves its own post, really. Second only to Foley's first book in terms of wrestling biographies. It's good as a generic autobiography--Jericho's lived an interesting life. I did not know his mom was paralyzed. I didn't know he had a close relationship with his dad. But the book shines as a wrestling book. His stories from Mexico ran the gauntlet-- terrifying mugging in the middle of the desert, close friend dying, first taste of sucess, gringo in a strange place. More of the same concerning Japan. Snark from the WCW. Really touching stuff about Eddie and Benoit. Go buy this one. It's not fluff.

-A Late Dinner by Paul Richardson.

Really liked it, Spanish cooking was examined in a socio-economic context. Migas to El Bulli were discussed, and I plan to steal lots of details when I write my fantasy epic.

-Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea by Nikki Giovanni

Poems about the Black experience. Nikki's voice came out loud and clear in this, which is something that doesn't always happen in poetry-- a lot of it sounds too 7th grade English class. She relies a little too much on personal history, and I can't decide if that's good thing or bad. It's like I admire her for saying stuff, for putting her thoughts out there, but I need a little something to hook me into the experience. Unless that's the point: you don't get it white girl and you won't ever.

-Cinderella by Titian Beresford.

Pr0N. I'm not big on femdom on males fiction. Mostly because it reeks so strongly of male fantasy. The women are still objects, they just have scarier costumes. It's still all about male pleasure first. (just a reminder, I'm discussing fiction. Not commenting on r/l. Go on with the habits that make you happy and horny).

The story was re-telling of the Cinderella fairy tale. The fairy godmother was a dominatrix, and Cinderella was whore. Go get your subby prince, honey. Some sex scenes-- the one where Victoria plugged a fat dude with a pig's tail, rode around on his back and made him find her "truffle" and the fairy godmother having her way with a chained giant--- were made of hot. Others, all the tedious jack off scenes and the wtfness of the magically shrunk dude napping in vaginas, were made of yawn.
opera142: (whee)
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.

Not cutting this because, dude, it was written 50-some years ago. The story was rather monotonous--crazy chick has crazy stuff happen to her-- but it was well-written and short so it was breezy read rather never-ending wangst. I fangirled through the prose. "goggle-eyed headlines", "paved my plate with chicken slices", "I had nothing in my purse except peanut shells". Vivid writing. Squeakies.

It was interesting from a quasi-historical setting. Sylvia was an intern at a fashion mag, and typewriters were everywhere. When her boss wanted to contact her she SENT A TELEGRAM. Everyone drank and smoke in the office and at business lunches. Her mother wanted her to learn shorthand so she'd have something to fall back on.

Her friends were fairly snarky and slutty, something that I -know- had to be going on in the early 50's, but I'm so conditioned by corny whiteness of Leave It to Beaver that I was surprized. Highly recc'd.

Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg.

Omg, go read right now. Right now! Gut your way through the first couple of chapter where Valen, the protag, seems ubsequious and smarmy. He gets likable and story is astounding.

It's fantasy. Dark, creepy, unsettling fantasy. Everyone is a bad guy. The villians are terrifying-- they eat eyes, they stake people and drag out their entrails, they poison wells and ponds. Berg is a master at relentlessing driving the plot from bad to worse to awful to unspeakable to hellish. She doesn't give Valen a moment's rest.

The language sometimes suffers from fantasy's overwrought "high" speech, but there are plenty of unique descriptions. "Bone-breaking cold".

It ends on a cliff-hanger. Damn fantasy authors and their love of 98542 book series. I must wait wait waitwaitwaitwait until Jan 2008 for the next one.

GO READ IT.

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