This was an interesting reading year for me. I read less than I have in the past couple of years, probably in part due to the easing of pandemic limitations and the return of busyness that came with it. But I also seemed to hit the distracted malaise this year that many described having earlier … Continue reading 2022 Reading List
A Strange Paradise Indeed: Review of ‘What Strange Paradise’ by Omar El Akkad
A little boy washed up on an alien shore. A teenage girl lonely and unloved in a house on a hill. Can she save him from monsters? Such is the premise, in one sense, of Omar El Akkad's second novel, What Strange Paradise. It has fairy tale bones—children in dangerous situations, helping each other, facing … Continue reading A Strange Paradise Indeed: Review of ‘What Strange Paradise’ by Omar El Akkad
But They’re Not Really People—Clones and Artificial Friends, Oh My!
It seems to be a perennial question but one focused on a future we anticipate and aren't sure yet what to do with: what is humanity's ethical obligation to the consciousnesses we make? We see this question in the replicants of Blade Runner to the clones of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go to the … Continue reading But They’re Not Really People—Clones and Artificial Friends, Oh My!
Take a Break: Three Fun Reads
The last time I read Edith Wharton's House of Mirth I vowed it would be the last. I had read it before, three or four times, and by this point I found the slow decline of Lily Bart painfully tragic because it is so pointless. And I wanted to yell at both her and Selden, … Continue reading Take a Break: Three Fun Reads
What to do when you write about books and the reading life, you have lots of good books to choose from, and yet you find yourself without much inspired to say about them? I find myself in this predicament, whether from the ongoing pandemic, the lure of summertime, the dumpster fire state of the world, … Continue reading Summertime Reading
A woman revisits the detention center where she and other Muslim/Arab-Americans were interned to retrieve her dead brother's property in Omar El Akkad's "Riverbed." A contemporary bruja carves out a new society with her lover in Mexico, one where brainwashed American soldiers may find respite from the atrocities they've committed, in Lizz Huerta's "The Wall." … Continue reading Beyond Dystopia
The Wheelhouse Project: Significant Jumps in Time—Brit Bennett’s ‘The Vanishing Half’
*Light spoilers for The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett* When done well, I love a novel that jumps forward significantly in time with each chapter, often giving us a different characters' perspective as it goes along. This technique functions as a way to look at the novel's facets from different angles, turning the characters and … Continue reading The Wheelhouse Project: Significant Jumps in Time—Brit Bennett’s ‘The Vanishing Half’
The Wheelhouse Project: Character
Go here for an introduction to the Wheelhouse Project. This post contains spoilers for Daphne de Maurier's 1938 novel Rebecca and minor spoilers for Karen Thompson Walker's The Dreamers (2019). Character may be the widest story doorway for me. We've already clarified that Story/Plot moves me less than the others. And while I often enjoy books heavy … Continue reading The Wheelhouse Project: Character
Before reading Susan Choi's National Book Award winning I novel I had heard tell of an effed up twist partway through the book. As I dove into the first half of Trust Exercise I found the initial content unsettling enough and semi-dreaded the coming twist. And then the twist twisted my expectations. Instead of abuse … Continue reading Trust Exercise
Weird Sisters: Atwood, Le Guin, Butler
How many other appreciators have lumped together the ineffable Margaret Atwood, Ursula Le Guin, and Octavia Butler? Combined they may be up there with poems to spring or love in terms of clichéd subjects. But I'm going to do it anyway because these three transcend easy comparison about "women writing speculative fiction." They are prophets … Continue reading Weird Sisters: Atwood, Le Guin, Butler