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Tue Apr 1st, 2014

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08:57 pm - Reading for March
I'm not doing the POC Speculative Fiction Challenge, but after March maybe I will. I've already reached the first level in this month alone.

Okorafor, Who Fears Death

Hopkinson, The New Moon's Arms

Parker, Island of Exiles
-- Sugawara Akitada, again based in a minor instance on a real Judge Dee case.

Jemisin, The Kingdom of Gods
-- this is the book that still occupies space in my head, less for plot (am bad at remembering what happens in a book) than for ambiance. The same way it gave me dreams that felt like what the book was like reading, though the action was quite mundane. This is odd because I found the first two of the trilogy totally opaque. A matter of not being on the same wavelength as the author, which is a problem I rarely see addressed. Like, if I didn't read Aaronovitch's blog, I wouldn't have had a clue what he meant by casually calling Dr Walid 'microbiology's answer to Cat Stevens.' And it chills me that he thinks that's a quite sufficient way of telling us that Walid is a white Scots convert to Islam, not a cradle Muslim something-Scots. Some of us need things spelled out in more detail than that.

John M Ford and Henry James are famous for being obscure (or in Sabina's phrase, "habitually overshooting the level of subtlety required to avoid cheesy obviousness") but no one but me seems to be so badly out of synch with the way Jemisin's mind works. What's perfectly clear to her- and to most of her readers, I discover- goes right over my head. I had no clue through two books that Nahadoth had a separate mortal element, as it were, because I can't recall anyone saying that in so many words. Couldn't suss it out from the evidence and remained confused. (Am still not sure why the rest of the gods and godlings don't have the same.) But The Kingdom of Gods was full of people making sense finally, and reading it was great fun. Wish it had been longer.

Goto, Half World
-- Buddhist or not, this one was nightmarish. Probably unintentionally so in the worst part, which was crossing an abyss by leaping onto the backs of crows. I can't cross pedestrian bridges because of the Down, let alone... (shudders at the very thought)

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, The Mirror of Fire and Dreaming
-- kids' book, second of a series, can be read standalone. Fun, but basically a kids' book.

Partly: The Lotus Sutra, The Heart Sutra by Red Pine

(2 comments | post comment)


[User Picture]
Date:April 2nd, 2014 03:59 am (UTC)
Not just you *cough* I could not for the life of me sync up with Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I could read just enough to know it was good, but beyond that, I always felt like I was missing a trick somewhere. Some people's prose just doesn't parse well in my head. (See also: Delany, Philip K Dick.) I felt like I was constantly tripping over the prose terrain? Augh, brain fried, can't metaphor tonight.

Anyway, not sure this is what you are describing, but "opaque" is exactly the word for how I felt Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was to me, and why I haven't read the other books. (If the author is reading this ... so sorry ... it's seriously not you, it's me, I think I have some wires crossed up here.)

I don't remember the Cat Stevens bit, but I do like it XD
[User Picture]
Date:April 2nd, 2014 04:46 pm (UTC)
Oh good. Not just me. Exactly- I felt like I was missing a trick somewhere. And probably did feel that with Delaney, except that I figured Dhalgren was just badly written because it didn't make the same sense as Heavenly Breakfast, and Neveryon was him being semioticist clever-clogs like my English major friends ie obscure out of sheer bloody-mindedness.

Trouble is, for someone of my generation at least, religion isn't the first thing I think of when I hear the name Cat Stevens. I might have arrived at it eventually, since Walid has nothing else in common with him, but it still strikes me as a very roundabout way of saying 'he's a convert.'

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