Books read, late May

The sea of DNFs in this fortnight’s booklog is daunting. DAUNTING. Also I am in the middle of two very long nonfiction books. So! Short post this time.

Vera Brosgol, Be Prepared. Discussed elsewhere.

John Crowley, Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruins of Ymr. I enjoyed most of this book. The more crows, the better I liked it, but it was a giant mythic century-spanning thing, and I’m down for that. My problems came in with little asides that frankly felt completely extraneous to the book, like, why is this even here, Crowley? Why do you have a young Native character with fetal alcohol syndrome to be…not even a sidekick, basically a few sentences worth of prop at the end? Why have throwaway lines about crows being gender essentialists when you don’t really have that data and it isn’t going to matter to the rest of the book? Why…why, Crowley. Why. When the crow Orpheus section was so good. There were large thoughts about death, and then the places they went were…a little too large, a little too conscious of the idea that this would be a masterwork, a little too sprawling I think, with small elements not treated with enough respect, especially where they touch on actual human lives. This could have been better for trying to be a book instead of the book, I think. (And self-awareness about persons not like oneself, sheesh.)

Zora Neale Hurston, Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”. Hurston interviewed the last surviving person who had been transported to the US to be a slave under legal chattel slavery (I phrase this carefully to acknowledge the realities of human trafficking in our time), and the book just came out now. Her interviews with him are preserved in meticulous detail–not just what he said, but what she as an interviewer did with him to build rapport, what gifts and assistance she provided. In an era when the first person was almost never used in academic writing, I can see why this would not have been a popular approach, but today it’s fascinating context, extremely edifying. This is short and in places emotionally grueling, and very, very much worth reading.

Paul Krueger, Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge. A fun urban fantasy with a bartending angle. The ending had some interesting twists–not all the ones I was thinking it would, and some I actively wished it wouldn’t–but I still enjoyed it enough to hand it off to a friend immediately, and to keep an eye out for Krueger’s next.

Hope Larson, All Summer Long. Discussed elsewhere.

Sam J. Miller, Blackfish City. Seasteading eco-SF disasterfuture Arctic whosis. As I was reading this, I kept thinking this, this is what people claim Kim Stanley Robinson is doing, that he is not in fact doing. Short chapters, diverse cast, very fast and exciting read.

C.L. Polk, Witchmark. This is a gorgeous book, and I can’t wait until it’s actually out in print so that you can all squee about it with me. (This is an ARC, but not a publisher-provided one.) Magic and mental health care in the aftermath of a war, in the ongoing wreckage caused by colonialism and its ills. Relationships developing organically in a fraught situation. This is exactly what I want out of fantasy these days, and then some. Bicycles and trains and consequences. More. More.

Django Wexler, The Fall of the Readers. The last of this MG series, and there’s really no reason not to start at the beginning, but here we are at a satisfying conclusion, so if you’re concerned about series that go on and on, this is definitely not one. Threads are tied up and implications followed up on. I devoured this all in one go one morning when I had been cranky about literally seven other books on my pile.

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