a rather delightful bit of light reading, The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar in an attractive reissue from the excellent Soft Skull Press (bonus: the introduction by Neil Gaiman).
Why haven't I read any of Millar's books before?!? This one was great: it isn't like anything else, it's definitely its own thing, but in a good way it reminded me of Terry Pratchett and Charles de Lint and Holly Black and Suzy McKee Charnas and all sorts of other good stuff. Funny and smart and fantastic: oh, and the main human heroine has a colostomy bag, which seems to me an unusual and interesting touch.
NB I had such a pang thinking of my beloved Scottish grandfather when one of the tiny and troublesome punk-rock Scottish fairies yells out "Wha daur meddle wi me! Touch not the cat bot a glove!" "This was the motto of the MacKintosh clan, and obscure even by Scottish standards," the narrator comments. But of course it is not really obscure at all: the official Davidson family motto is Sapienter si sincere (I can't believe I still remember this stuff, I thought it lost in the mists of childhood), but the Davidsons were also part of the same Clan Chattan whose motto is "Touch not the cat." And one of Mary Stewart's best books is Touch Not the Cat (and why is it that writers like Mary Stewart and Dick Francis make it look so easy to write perfect escapist fiction, and yet there are so few books out there nearly as enjoyable to read as theirs?).
The cat of the motto is a wildcat, not a housecat. Coincidentally I am thinking about writing a novel (also set in New York) about a non-werewolf animal shapeshifter who changes into a cougar, a private-investigator-type novel in a near-future slightly dystopian New York. Of course some urban-fantasy-type writers move indiscriminately between supernatural creatures--the name Laurell K. Hamilton comes to mind, and appealingly & hilariously her main character Anita Blake majored in supernatural creatures in college!--but on the whole I would think you have a strong temperamental preference for fairies, vampires or werewolves depending on a cluster of style-related and other traits. I am in the werewolf camp, I like the way good novels about people who change into animals have to delve into Konrad Lorenz-Frans de Waal--ethologist-type territory. I think it unlikely that I would write a book prominently featuring either vampires or fairies, although I am fond of reading about them.
In other news (this is really exciting--but I promise this isn't going to become a running blog, just occasional posts), I ran ten miles today for the first time. Very, very exciting. I've been doing a class at the Running Center and I can't recommend it highly enough, if in New York and you're a beginner or a serious long-time long-distance runner wanting to improve your speed or whatever there is something good at that place for you. Today was the Last Ten Mile Run, which covers the last ten miles of the actual New York Marathon course two weeks before the race. The weather was perfect and I had a great run--I am steady rather than particularly fast, I have no turn of speed on short distances especially, but I came in at a very respectable one hour and thirty-six minutes (9'36" mile pace, and I feel sure I can do faster than that once I've built up a longer history with the long-distance thing). I am having such a pang that I have wasted all this time without doing marathons, I will not be able to do one before this time next year at the earliest I think but I am doing my first half-marathon in Philadelphia in a month and another in January and after that we will see. I think I am going to do the Running Center's Summer/Fall Marathon Training Program; I will see if I can get a spot in the New York Marathon in the lottery, but if I can't, I'll do the Philadelphia Marathon in 2007 and meanwhile run the nine New York Road Runners races in 2007 that give you an automatic spot in 2008. Hmmm... I like it that I've unleashed my obsessive/extreme side on the problem of exercise...