Thursday, December 15, 2016

What I've Been Doing

So what am I doing, in Trump's America: The Hunger Games Version?

Moping, a lot. I'm still in the depression stage of grieving. Nowhere near acceptance yet.

WTAF, is what I keep thinking, every time some new aspect of this horrible national nightmare comes to light.

Also moving my office. That finally happened. My new office has insufficient bookshelves, but a very nice window.

I'll post pictures if I manage to remember to take some. I'm also negotiating with the university to have two entirely redundant filing cabinets taken out and a new bookshelf moved in, so that the books currently piled up around the office on the floor and on my desk can be put on shelves.

Also reading, a lot. Depression, as always, keeps me from sleeping, or doing much of anything else, but reading helps. Among other things, I've read these:

Fellside, M. R. Carey. This is the new book by the fella who wrote The Girl With All The Gifts. I sort of liked that and sort of did not, and I have the same reaction to this book. It's readable, and I kept going, but it's not one I'll re-read ever. Here, we have a woman who wakes up in a hospital, horribly burned, accused of murdering a ten year old, one who lived upstairs from her, and one she likes very much. (She doesn't remember what happened.) She's sent to Fellside, a prison on a moor, for the murder, and meets the ghost of the ten year old there... among other things.

Sanditon, Jane Austen: This is Jane Austen's unfinished novel. I'd never read it before. It's quite unlike her other novels, and interesting, if not quite successful. I also re-read Emma and Mansfield Park, which was why I decided to (finally) read this one. In Sanditon, Austen takes us to a seaside resort town, so the landscape is quite different from her other novels. It's a departure, is what I'm saying. I wish she'd had time to finish it. It obviously needs revising.

Eliza's Daughter, Joan Aiken

Jane Fairfax, Joan Aiken

Lady Catherine's Necklace, Joan Aiken

Emma Watson, Joan Aiken

The Youngest Miss Ward, Joan Aiken: When you run out of Jane Austen novels to read, you may as well turn to those written by Joan Aiken. Aiken's Austen  novels tell the Austen stories from the point of view of other characters in the novel.

Jane Fairfax, for example, is Emma from the point of view of Jane Fairfax. This isn't a new or original idea. We've seen other writers do it -- Tom Stoppard with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and Jean Rhys with Wide Sargasso Sea. But these are fun.

Straight Man, Richard Russo. This is Russo's lone academic novel, and a comedy. It's much slighter than his other works. A very bleak picture of the academic world, so be warned.

Old Venus, ed. Gardner Dozois. A collection of SF stories which posit that the "old" perception of Venus, the one we believed in the 1940s, is actually true. A couple of my favorite writers, including Eleanor Arnason, have stories in this collection.

Fledgling, Octavia Butler: I'm teaching this in my Zombies, Vampires, and the Apocalypse class in the Spring. Butler is, as always, stunning. It's a vampire story, but because it's Butler, it's not the vampire story you're expecting. If you haven't read this one yet, you should read it. And then you will weep and curse the fates, because this was the first of a trilogy Butler never got to write, dying as she did well before her time.

World War Z, Max Brooks. Also teaching this one. An oral history of the Zombie Wars. If you only saw the movie version, erase it from your memory and go read the book, which is TEN THOUSAND times better.

Impossible Things, Connie Willis. An early collection of short stories. This one includes "Even The Queen," one of my favorite Willis stories, about a future where women no longer have to menstruate, and a "back to nature" movement where the young women, who never have suffered through menstruation, have started a movement to live in harmony with their bodies. It's Willis at her best, and a great story. "The Last of the Winnebagos" is also in this collection, as is "Chance," a short and heart-breaking story about missed chances.

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