Saturday, July 23, 2005

Miscellaneous light reading/rereading

I can't seem to settle into anything substantial, mostly because I'm gearing up for a major work effort. Read two books by Peter S. Beagle, one of those writers that really sticks with you: Tamsin, which I have read before and love (it's a ghost story, but it's also a great angry-female-narrator-girl-from-NY story, add it to Suzy McKee Charnas--who by the way has an interesting blog and an excellent website--and Meg Rosoff and other more remote analogs like Harriet the Spy and Madeleine L'Engle's Vicky Austin books); and Folk of the Air, which I liked very much--it's exactly the kind of book I like--though not as much as Matt Ruff's Fool on the Hill, which is I think my favorite university-town urban fantasy. I am grateful, however, not to be living in 1970s Berkeley surrounded by people dressed in medieval garb--it's sort of my worst nightmare.

I was thwarted in my desire to read more novels by Daniel Hecht--I requested a whole bunch from the library and they arrived only for me to find that (a) I'd already read Skull Session, without remembering the name of book or author, and hadn't liked it nearly as much as the prequel Puppets which I read last week; and (b) The Babel Effect is the kind of high-concept, lots-of-stuff-about-religion-and-ethics-and-evolutionary-theory-and-the-brain kind of thriller that in theory I love but in practice I have virtually given up reading since I started getting more exciting book recommendations from the litblogs. So I put both aside.

I did read two first novels this week as well, which I should really refrain from criticizing since I thought they were both very promising if flawed: Double Cross Blind by Joel N. Ross (OK, I can't resist the marginal comments, but really this book was quite decent though marred by a few literary glitches--Raskolnikov didn't kill his landlady, the title of Joyce's novel is not "The Odyssey"--and it's also hard not to read this stuff as overshadowed by Robert Harris and Alan Furst); and Clare Sambrook's Hide and Seek (I absolutely LOVED the first few chapters, but found myself more and more regretful that she hadn't written this as a more conventional thriller rather than a first-person-child-narrator literary novel--it is quite good, and really excellent in spots, but doesn't match up to Ben Rice's extraordinary novella Pobby and Dingan or a host of other great similar things, and I thought it would have worked better as something more like this). But both Ross and Sambrook are likely to write really good books in future, I'd say. Keep an eye out, and check out these ones too.

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