WWW Wednesday 8-21-2013

It’s WWW Wednesday. This meme is from shouldbereading.

• What did you recently finish reading?

I’m not the only one around who’s been rereading their way through my old mate Iain Banks’ oeuvre. Sudden death has a way of doing that, drawing you back into the work as some kind of act of memory, a rite of passage and a letting-go. I’m thinking of it as a slow farewell. As an act of sheer self-indulgence, I started with all the science fiction; inevitably, I am now suffering withdrawal, seriously struggling with the notion that there will be no more Culture novels. (Yes, of course I love the Culture; it’s very hard not to. It’s practically my definition of a utopia, as it was Iain’s. It’s also very hard to immerse yourself in those books and then try to write SF and not come out with sub-Banksian wannabe-Culture fiction…)

• What are you reading now?

I’m midway through the third in Rosemary Kirstein’s “Steerswoman” series, and still feeling oddly ambivalent. Whenever I stop to think about it, what rises in my mind is a list of grievances: she writes such strong, complex women, I am mildly resentful on behalf of her male characters that they don’t apparently merit the same attention; I find the worldbuilding/storytelling balance way out of kilter, especially in the second book, where she is so much enamoured of her tribal culture that most of the novel is spent travelling in something closer to an act of anthropology than fiction; I’m always irritated by that mystery-writers’ convention that nudges the reader ahead of the characters in understanding what is actually going on, and this whole series is built upon a premise that requires it. And yet, and yet. I’m still reading, and still enjoying. Which is a neat trick if you can do it, and she can.

At bedtime, I’m reading the second volume of Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diary. I am myself a devout cook, and Nigel is the cook’s cookery writer and the writer’s cookery writer too. I love this life of exile in California, but I do find that I like drifting into sleep with the echo of an English voice in my head, and the hint of English food in my mouth.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

I still have Iain’s non-SF to reread. Which includes some of my favourites among his novels: The Crow Road, eg, and Whit. I’ll probably finish with the book he and we all started with, back in ’84, The Wasp Factory; that would be neatly rounding. But I need something new too. I have Guy Gavriel Kay’s latest, River of Stars; or Mary Gentle’s The Black Opera; or all m’wife’s well-filled shelves to raid, where there are books and writers that I’ve never even heard of…

What about you? What have you been reading lately? Put the link to your WWW Wednesday entry in comments, or just tell us!

 

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WWW Wednesday 8-21-2013 — 9 Comments

  1. Read:
    Goblin Secrets by William Alexander
    The Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages by Jean Gimpel
    Reading:
    Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens by James Davidson (This is a re-read)
    Renegade Magic by Stephanie Burgis
    To Read:
    Probably Icefall by Kirby, Matthew J.

  2. The Steerswoman books were recommended to me by I think Martha Wells, and I found them and have them on the shelf to read. I’ll be interested to see what you finally think of them. I don’t like the reader getting ahead of the characters by more than a split second, but I do have tolerance for a good anthropological read.

    Finished Hardscrabble Road by Jane Haddam. She does some fascinating things with her supporting characters, and I do like watching Gregor Demarkian grow and change, even in his maturity. I tried reading Somebody Else’s Music, the precursor, and had to put it down. The writing was too good–it took me back to some bad places, and I am not in the mood to feel bad about myself.

    Still working on Summoning the Fates by Budapest, and started Glass Houses by Haddam.

  3. I am reading THE POISON KING, a nonfiction work about Mithridates. Unfortunately since there actually is not that much material about him (all of it written by his enemies the Romans) the author has had to pad a tremendous lot. I may bail out and go reread CONFESSION, the graphic novel in the Astro City series by Kurt Busiek. New stories in this series are finally coming out from Vertigo comics, and it inspires me to go back and reread.