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anderlawlor

anderlawlor

Currently reading

Madame Bovary
Gustave Flaubert, Lydia Davis
Siddhartha
Hermann Hesse, Hilda Rosner
Civil Disobedience and Other Essays (Collected Essays)
Henry David Thoreau
The Children Star
Joan Slonczewski
Manstealing for Fat Girls
Michelle Embree
Undersong: Chosen Poems Old and New
Audre Lorde
Radio Crackling, Radio Gone
Lisa Olstein
Radiant Days
Elizabeth Hand
Mythmakers and Lawbreakers: Anarchist Writers on Fiction
Margaret Killjoy, Kim Stanley Robinson
Footnotes in Gaza
Joe Sacco

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz Gorgeous. Read this book! I cried and laughed. If I get it together I will write a proper review, but for now, take this as my recommendation. I borrowed this from the library, stayed up all night to finish it, and have ordered a copy from my independent bookstore. I liked it.

Adaptation

Adaptation - Malinda Lo So fun! Don't be put off by the cover design.

Oddly Normal: One Family's Struggle to Help Their Teenage Son Come to Terms with His Sexuality

Oddly Normal: One Family's Struggle to Help Their Teenage Son Come to Terms with His Sexuality - John Schwartz Mixed feelings about this one. I wanted less of the father and more of the queer kid's experience, especially since the father, though very well-meaning, lapsed into straight/entitled cluelessness too often for my comfort. Maybe someday the kid will write a thinly-veiled autobiographical novel. That I would like to read.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan Oh how this book made me sad. Having worked for years in bookstores, one glorious bookstore in San Francisco (what's up Dog Eared!) in particular, I approached MR. PENUMBRA'S 24-HOUR BOOKSTORE with hopes for a good time. Like the narrator, I've worked in the web industrial complex (in the first boom in NY), I spent a portion of my childhood playing D&D, I read a lot of fantasy as a kid, and I think smart girls are hot. Seems like I'm a ready-made fan, right?Unlike the narrator, though, I'm not interested in a book-length ad for Google Inc, I don't think of books as containing codes to be cracked, I don't think an awesome career path is to leave bookstore clerking in order to OPEN A CONSULTANCY, and I don't applaud the ingenuity of someone taking a used bookstore and TURNING IT INTO A CLIMBING GYM!!!! I don't want to be a hater, because I can see the author's very real affection for books and bookstores coming through. I would bet he's a really nice guy who I would like if I met him. And don't misunderstand: I heart the web, really I do, and I don't think the web is the end of print books or novels or whatever. But I do think the web is affecting how people read and write, and I think MR. PENUMBRA'S 24-HOUR BOOKSTORE might be some evidence that this effect is not always so great. For me, the very best thing about this book, which I wanted so much to love but really just couldn't, was its truly clever and magical dust jacket. I love the dust jacket so much I won't even spoil it.

Alif the Unseen

Alif the Unseen - G. Willow Wilson I read this going to sleep so many nights in a row that I'm not sure what was in the book and what I dreamed. Lots of interesting ideas and images here. Think I need to re-read to get a better handle on it. I felt my lack of knowledge about Islam pretty keenly; I think I missed much of the resonances and references. But I enjoyed the hacker/revolutionary bits and especially enjoyed the peek into the jinn world. Hmm. Wonder what others think?

I Remember

I Remember - Shane Allison Just started. Feeling anxious and competitive in my love for Joe Brainard but completely won over by the very first "I remember...". More soon. Terrific cover!

Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders

Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders - Samuel R. Delany THROUGH THE VALLEY... starts in 2007 and shoots decades into the future; I read four or five hundred pages before I saw anything recognizably "science fiction" which speaks, I think, to Delany's phenomenally subtle world-building. Trigger warnings for basically anything sexual (specifically including sexual violence, incest, intergenerational sex). As with THE MAD MAN or HOGG, best not to read over lunch. As with THE MAD MAN or HOGG, expect to be personally challenged on pretty much every page. As I'm reading, I am continually reminded of Delany's injunction to us, his students, to "widen the circle of compassion" to include whatever characters might be considered too other, too abject, and I'm in awe of how Delany does just that here, dealing with extremely difficult material. More to come!

The Revisionists

The Revisionists - Thomas Mullen I don't know if this is fake science fiction or a novel that's mildly tinged with fantasy. The conceit was enough to interest me, and I did finish the book but I will say I had a hard time keeping all the male characters straight - morose straight guys with a hero complex, in multiple flavors. Maybe I was too sleepy to give this book its due, but it felt like it was written to be optioned, which is the kind of vaguely science fiction book by which I feel most betrayed.

Zazen

Zazen - Vanessa Veselka Well I can tell how much this book was marketed to me by the sheer number of my categories I think it fits. Also by the sheer number of people telling me for like a year how amazing it was. So I finally got it together to read ZAZEN and it actually held up to the hype. Exceeded, even. I want to gather my thoughts and say something more but for now I would say, read this, like-minded friends.

Sugar Rush

Sugar Rush - Julie Burchill Okay I re-read this (10/12) because I'd forgotten I'd read it (in 10/9/10) and it was actually quite gripping, like an episode of Skins. There's some weird race stuff which I need to think more about, that sort of Sarah Silverman-y "edgy" humor which I actually kind of hate most of the time but there's something real going on in this book so I just went with it. I don't know. I also couldn't parse the class stuff, but I think the narrator is meant to be from a more posh background, or middle-class? The various schoolgirl romances were well done, so that's something.

Don't Let Me Go

Don't Let Me Go - J.H. Trumble I'm not sure this is actually YA but it seems to be. Or maybe romance? Not really my jam but compelling in its way.

Telegraph Avenue: A Novel

Telegraph Avenue: A Novel - Michael Chabon Eh. I loved Kavalier and Klay but have never really been able to get into any of Chabon's other books. I started reading this, skimmed for a while trying to hook into it, but couldn't connect. I'm maybe a little bored with the literary exploration of this certain segment of fandom (straight dude collectors of stuff). I was most interested in the younger characters (Titus and Julie) and the wive (and it's maybe telling that after reading 100 or so pages the two most prominent women in the book stay in my mind as "the wives") but maybe I'm also just less interested in reading about fathers and sons.

Above World

Above World - Jenn Reese Fun feminist post-human YA science fiction about two friends, Aluna and Hoku, who have to leave their undersea world to save it and also the world. Great moments of solidarity with other oppressed workers and subjects, nicely realistic boy-girl friendship without romance, strong girls and kind boys, POC main characters - I would definitely give this to a kid!

The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us

The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us - James W. Pennebaker This book contains some Chaz Bono-level anecdotal evidence about the effects of testosterone on behavior. I kind of wanted to cry when I read the following (but maybe I've got too much naturally-occuring testosterone coursing through my biologically-female (or whatever) veins preventing me from crying, or using social pronouns). And I quote: "For a variety of reasons, both men and women occasionally undergo testosterone therapy, whereby they are given periodic injections of the hormone. What would happen to their language during times when their testosterone levels were high versus when they were low? Through an odd series of events, I was able to answer the question." (57)How does Pennebaker answer this question? He looks at the writing of two people: one 28yo transguy taking T to transition and one 60yo non-trans guy taking T to"restore his upper body strength" (58) Now that's rigorous science, folks. Wait, though, there's more."...there was one fascinating and reliable difference--in social pronouns (including words like we, us, he, she, they, and them). As testosterone levels dropped, they used more social pronouns. Think what this means: Both GH and the anthropologist inject themselves with testosterone and they now focus on tasks, goals, events, and the occasional object--but not people." (58)Is this really a RELIABLE sample? Two people?"It is news because these language differences signal that men tend to talk and think about concrete objects and things in highly specific ways. They are naturally categorizing things... a man naturally categorize and assigns objects to spatial relations at rates higher than women."Please can we go back to the 90s when people had heard of social construction of identity?PS: The Gender Genie http://bookblog.net/gender/genie.php score for this review (minus quotations) is: Female Score: 54 Male Score: 111. Take that, Pennebaker.

Smoketown: A Novel

Smoketown - Tenea D. Johnson Can't get into it. Will try again at some point.

Shatter Me

Shatter Me - Tahereh Mafi Ack. I wish this was better. Mafi makes some interesting literary moves (redaction, etc) & there are moments of enjoyable writing but ultimately this feels like a "paranormal teen romance." Weird to complain about a genre book being generic, but there you go. I want more.