subjunctive: (groot & rocket)
I cobbled together this book-meme from [ profile] innermostplanet's equally cobbled-together, longer version that I just didn't have the patience for.

I didn't read a lot of fiction last year. Chalk it up to depression and busy-ness. Many of the references below are to books I read for one of my graduate classes (one on science fiction, one on teaching literature). Hopefully some of them are sufficiently obscure as to be interesting.

Unexpectedly liked: Geoff Ryman's The Child Garden. Before I began reading it (for a class) I knew it contained a semi-bestial relationship (between a human and a sentient bear), and it kind of sounded like total crack. It was actually really good, thoughtful and full of feeling and delightful narration (yes, including Human/Bear relations; I didn't have that wrong!). If you like futuristic scifi-ish fiction, you should read this.

Unexpectedly disliked: I re-read Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy this year after not picking it up for a couple of years. I had enjoyed them when I first read them, but this time around I ended up hating large swathes of it, mostly because of the narrative voices. The concept, plot, and science (or "science") in the books are very good, but the way the story was told was a huge turn-off. It's told in first person, which grates a lot more than it used to, and both the POV characters, Georgia and Shaun Mason, are so fucking obnoxious and annoying. The excerpts of "journalism" from their blogs were laughably bad, particularly after being told time and time again that they were hard-hitting and serious and objective compared to all those other journalists. Also, the personality essentialism (Irwins vs. Newsies vs. Fictionals) reached a frankly weird height. All in all, a disappointment. I'm planning to re-read all the October Daye books in the near future and now I'm worried they won't hold up either. :/

My book boyfriend: Tybalt from October Daye. You can pine over me anytime you want, King of Cats.

My book girlfriend: Becks Atherton, from Newsflesh. You deserved better, you beautiful zombie-killing badass.

Weirdest: Lesabéndio: An Asteroid Novel by Paul Scheerbart. It's almost impossible to describe the weirdness. It's science fiction aliens before the tropes of the genre really solidified and there are almost no humans at all. It's also a strongly optimistic and earnest book, as opposed to the cynicism and self-referentiality that pervades a lot of the scifi and fantasy I've been reading lately ("look at me, I'm aware of the genre tropes"). Reminds me in some ways of Lewis's Space trilogy (not sure I could describe the similarities beyond "earnestness"). If you are interested in the "form vs. function" debate in aesthetics, this is the scifi fable for you.

Favorite prose: Fiction: Nabokov, with Lolita, for obvious reasons. I read it for the first time this year. Non-fiction: Rebecca Solnit. I began her Wanderlust and every sentence is sublime. One of Solnit's greatest strengths is her ability to balance academic concepts with non-academic voice and prose. I wish I could just type up this 500-word passage that encapsulates all that I think about the postmodern examination of "the body", but alas. You'll just have to read it yourself. (May I recommend the following books: A Paradise Built in Hell, Landscapes for Politics, Wanderlust, River of Shadows).
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