Thursday, September 10, 2015

Closing tabs

School started!

It's tiring but exhilarating: certainly my favorite time of year. Just teaching one class this semester due to extensive committee responsibilities (interesting ones, not tedious at all): the eighteenth-century novel survey. Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year is up first: this is an incredible book, everyone should read it....

Closing tabs:


It's on my "bucket list" (I hate that expression, but it's unavoidable!) to publish a book with Graywolf.

A nice interview with the author of The Three-Body Problem.

"Black Chronicles II": photographs of people of color in Victorian England.

Duane Swierczynski on M. Night Shyamalan's latest.

Death of a white alligator.

Sisyphean Funtime! (Via Jonathan L.)

Wish I could be in Dublin to see this.

Colum McCann on the tunnels beneath NYC.

Light reading:

I read so many lightweight novels last week that I experienced a sudden and intense and altogether uncharacteristic revulsion towards all fiction! Individually a number of these were very good, but the cumulative effect was slightly sickening (a-la Double-Stuf Golden Oreos).

Seanan McGuire's new October Daye novel, A Red-Rose Chain (very satisfying installment in good series, though her Mira Grant books are more exactly to my taste);

David Lagercrantz, The Girl in the Spider's Web (very good, certainly up to standard of the original series - probably better than installments 2 and 3);

Zen Cho, Sorcerer to the Crown (enjoyable but light; suffers from the inevitable comparison to Susanna Clarke, and also gives me that feeling - most Regency pastiche does this to me - that Georgette Heyer has a lot to answer for! Naomi Novik was wise to take Patrick O'Brian as her Austen-via influence rather than Heyer for the Temeraire books);

Terry Pratchett's final Discworld installment, The Shepherd's Crown (I think the Tiffany Aching books, together with the "Death" subset of the Discworld books, are really Pratchett's most sublime accomplishments - plus Good Omens of course - some of the recent Discworld books have felt pretty thin/overly ideological [trains! progress!], but I very much enjoyed this one);

Nancy Kress, Yesterday's Kin;

Mary Robinette Kowal, Shades of Milk and Honey (not the author's fault, really, but I know Austen's work too well to enjoy this kind of pastiche - this was the one that tipped me over to feeling that many moons would pass before I would again pick up a fantasy novel set in this period!).

Brief turn to nonfiction: Richard Lloyd Parry's gripping People Who Eat Darkness and also Cintra Wilson's new book, which deserves a post of its own.

Really I can't stay off the fiction for long, though: I very much enjoyed Christopher Barzak's Wonders of the Invisible World, and then of course - red-letter day! - Lee Child's new Jack Reacher novel, Make Me. Wildly implausible of course in all sorts of respects, but I love these books so much, and I thought this was a very good installment: the writing is focused, energetic in a way that not all of the recent books have demonstrated.

Finally, I fulfilled the terms of an old promise to B. - that I would watch all of season I of Orphan Black so that we could watch the second season together (he having correctly assessed it as belonging to the small subset of television that I would particularly enjoy).

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