25 March 2011

Reading Is Fundamental

I know I read a few things since the last entry, but I lost track. I have no other excuses--just saying that life happens and is actually continuing to happen.  (Cryptic, I know.  Sorry.)  Still, the only way out is through, and I need to get back on track with things like writing and reading, and talking about what I'm reading.

From the 14th through the 20th, I actually read quite a bit...

I finished up the last bit of Lightspeed Magazine 2:
  • "The Zeppelin Conductors' Society Annual Gentlemen's Ball" by Genevieve Valentine. So far, I'm 2 for 2 in never having read a Valentine story I didn't like.
  • "...For a Single Yesterday" by George R.R. Martin. There's a certain tier of SF/F writers that I just haven't managed to read yet. Martin, De Lint, etc. Stories like this erode the consolation I take in the idea that I just can't read everything.  5 out of 5 for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that if I hadn't read in advance that the story was first published a mere two years after I was born, I might never have known.
I started Objects of Worship by Claude Lalumière.  As of now, I'm actually almost done with it.  I can't remember when I got through anyone's short story collection this fast.  All I can say is that, a few personal quibbles aside, Lalumière's writing definitely lives up to its hype.
  • "The Object of Worship." Never before has the opening story of a collection blown me away like this. Wonderful!  5 out of 5.
  • "The Ethical Treatment of Meat" had its ups and downs for me.  4 out of 5, but only because the main conceit of the story started being teased so well and then, in expository dialogue, "Whoomp, there it is!"
  • "Hochelaga and Sons" definitely takes a page out of the Kavalier and Clay playbook. But only one. 4 out of 5.
  • "The Sea, at Bari" hits some really nice Lovecraftian notes, but is still very much its own story.  5 out of 5.
  • "The Darkness at the Heart of the World" seamlessly crams the main character's entire mortal lifetime in a short-story. I'm astounded, to be honest.  5 out of 5.
  • "Spiderkid" does the same thing "Hochelaga" did, but in a completely different way.  4 out of 5.
  • "Njabo" is a master-class in how to write non-traditional family situations without hitting the reader over the head with "This is a Non-Traditional Family, Look at Me, Look at Me!!"  5 out of 5, even though I'm unsure if the ending of the story didn't surprise me because the writing telegraphed it or because I chanced upon this article from io9 the same day I was reading this story.

I bought the TPB of The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis a couple of weeks ago. In a sense, it was pretty senseless, since I have all four of the original books that make up The Collected Stories, though I've only read three. I hadn't read Davis's second collection, 1997's Almost No Memory. I'm about ten pieces in. I won't list or review them. Anyone who's familiar with Davis's work understands that the distinction between "story" and "prose poem" is so blurred--I just don't feel qualified to comment on it, except to say that rarely do her pieces fail to resonate with me.