WWW Wednesday. This meme is from shouldbereading.
What have you read, what are you reading, what will you read?
I’ve been so busy with a house full of guests, and my brains are so broiled from the heat, that I have not been finishing a great many books. Lots of ongoing reading that I am involved enough with to forget the heat and the constant kitchen duty. (Which I often do with a book at hand.)
I began reading Katharine Kerr’s Sorcerer’s Luck late one super hot night, meaning to read a page or two, and ended up reading far too late. I love San Francisco, I love urban fantasy (especially the secret history variety) and I love the fact that I can’t predict where this one is going. At all.
I usually avoid Jane Austen bios anymore. Too many of them seem like writ-for-cash, as biographers sift the few letters Cassandra left behind, and perhaps read each other as well as the novels again, trying to pull guesses about Austen’s life from her fiction. Paula Byrne, in The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things, acknowledges no only how wrong that is, but how offended Jane Austen would have been. She made it very plain in letters that have been left for posterity that she did not attempt to depict people from her life in her novels. Her imagination was far too rich for that.
Byrne has instead delved and sifted all the tiny details left by the other members of the family, in hopes of recreating a diorama of the world that Jane Austen moved through. Though she can’t help sometimes guessing what was in Austen’s mind. I find the book weakest when she does that—sometimes totally wrong-headed, as in her assumption on page 82 that Austen would not have been able to reject the notion that heroines must be beautiful without the publication of Burney’s Cecilia, a comment that ignores the fact that Austen’s juvenilia, in which there are plenty of plain heroines, was pretty much all written before Burney’s novel appeared—though when Byrne doesn’t venture into Austen’s head, but stays with her world, the “small things” of the title are fascinating.
I am also continuing to read Rick Atkinson’s The Day of Battle, which is slow going because it is entirely too vivid in depicting the cost of individual lives. Atkinson demonstrates Homeric skill in differentiating everyone involved, from grunts to generals, and illustrates with unsparing detail not only the immense difficulty of massive invasions, but the fast evolving tactical situation with respect to paratroop drops, radio transmission, guided bombs, and the like. All this amid ancient sites whose millennial historical significance does not go without comment.
I am in the middle of several other books, and as for future reading, I have quite a stack. The newest one is Greer Gilman’s Cry Murder! in a Small Voice, a magical mystery set in Shakespeare’s time.
Opening it at random, here’s a selection:
Venice, Ash Wednesday, 1604
In the shadows of a courtyard brimmed with wavering light, is hid a fragment of a boy in bronze. In ecstasy: his limbs out flung in tatters from his trunk. His clustering hair leaf-curled about his will-gill face. His bondage flight. His dance is scattered now. The ones ones, hornéd, pricked, and fluted, wait: at thresholds, in the shoals of fountains, set on bridge-ends and in niches, drowned in silt: the keepers of the isles.
More about this one when it is released in September.