Saturday, October 10, 2015

Light reading catch-up

I had cause several times, in the last few weeks, to contemplate the fact that if novels didn't exist, I would have to develop a completely different life coping strategy!

The semester is going well, but I am very busy. If I can just do everything I need to over the next couple weeks, I have five days in Cayman with B. at the end of the month, which will be very nice.

Three standouts:

Deon Meyer, Icarus: excellent contemporary South African crime fiction, highly recommended (start at the beginning of the series if you haven't read them already).

Nnedi Okorafor, Binti: a science-fiction novella that captures the absolute best qualities of the form as it existed in the fifties and sixties and yet could only have been written in our own millennium. I loved it!

Craig Laurance Gidney, Bereft: a subtle and extremely appealing YA novel - really more of a novella - recommended by Chip Delany (Gidney was one of his students). This is an understated piece of work - I suspect that the main reason it didn't find a big mainstream YA publisher was that it's almost more scene-setting than story as such - but it is absolutely lovely work. The character, the voice, the settings: everything is perfectly done. Some literary agent should sign Gidney up right away and get him a great deal for his next YA book!

The rest of the heap (some quite good, others not so much):

Criminal: Harry Bingham's latest Fiona Griffith's installment, This Thing of Darkness (I have liked this series very much so far, but alas, in this volume Fiona has become implausibly omniscient/omnipotent, and also the crucial technology point at the end, about cutting only a given part of a transatlantic data cable, is absolutely preposterous!); Asa Larsson, The Second Deadly Sin (very good series, start with first installment as they read better in order); Saul Black, The Killing Lessons (I liked his books as Glen Duncan very much, but this is a kind of book I can hardly read - call it "preposterous serial killer fodder" - both the killing and the investigating are so farfetched as to seem made up out of the whole cloth, and I am sorry to say that the next book I name also comes under this heading - I was quite disappointed); Karin Slaughter, Pretty Girls (I am overusing the adjective, but I am just going to have to say "preposterous" again! She is a very good writer, the storytelling is excellent, but the idea that people would actually behave like that beggars belief); Simon Toyne, The Searcher (very silly in its final developments, but I liked it better than these excessively lurid serial killer ones).

Lightly fantastical: Paul Cornell, Witches of Lychford; an extremely appealing series by Leigh Bardugo, very much to my taste, called the Grisha Trilogy (these are very good - read if you like Laini Taylor's trilogy); Ilana C. Myer, Last Song Before Night (many strengths here - good writing and character development, I will read what she publishes next - but she is not really interested in worldbuilding, the generic fantasy setting is extremely bland); Lisa Tuttle, The Silver Bough (not sure why I missed this at the time, as it is very much the sort of thing I like); Diana Rowland, White Trash Zombie Gone Wild (I held out against this series for a long time as I found the title premise offputting, but really they are extremely good - definitely recommended to urban fantasy readers).

Oh, yes, and another real standout: Clancy Martin, Bad Sex (brilliantly well-written, stayed with me, though similar in mode to other books I've read recently - Vendela Vida, Kate Christensen).

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