Sunday, August 01, 2021

What I'm Reading Now

Laurie Frankel, One, Two, Three 

Frankel is one of my favorite writers who has written fewer than five books. (This is a hint that I would like her to write more.) She wrote This is How it Always Is, which is a great book; this one, One, Two, Three, is also very good, though maybe not quite as excellent. Here, we have a set of triplets growing up in a doomed town, one which a chemical company contaminated nearly 20 years in the past, killing off huge swaths of the population and leaving many of those who remain broken.

It's told from the point of view of the three sisters, one of whom is disabled by the chemical pollutants, one of whom is on the spectrum, and one of who is as normal as anyone can be in such an environment. Among other things, this is about how unchecked and unfettered capitalism destroys (is destroying) the world. 

The ending is a bit weak, but up until then, this is an excellent book.

Rainbow Rowell, Any Way the Wind Blows 

Rowell wrote Fangirl, which is one of my favorite books about a young adult, Cath, in her first year of college. The girl also writes fan fiction, and after Fangirl was a big hit, Rowell wrote the fan-fic books that Cath was writing. This is the third in that trilogy. They're obviously Harry Potter fan-fic, but they're Harry Potter without the class-apologism, the misogyny, and the bigotry. 

The first two are Carry On and Wayward Son. These aren't serious literature, but they're fun. Like most fan-fic, they focus on relationships and drama rather than plot. And Rowell can write. If you're looking for well-written fun, these are your books.

Benjamin Rosenbaum, The Unraveling

I'm doing an actual review of this one, for Strange Horizons, so I won't say too much about this here, except that this one is indeed serious literature, and also a lot of fun. It's science fiction, about a far, far future planet rebuilt in the human diaspora. The worldbuilding is lovely, complex and complicated and delightful; the characters likewise. Very much worth reading. I read it straight through one day, and then immediately re-read it the next day. This book should win awards, and I hope it does.

John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

I re-read this one every three or four years. Among other things, it's a nice look at 1960 America. Steinbeck is also extremely readable, and the dog is great. The most interesting part, though, is how little America has changed since 1960. Everything everyone is losing their shit over today -- divisive politics, racism, white supremacists having tantrums -- Steinbeck encounters and discusses all of it. There's no mention of global climate change, but he does get depressed by the destruction of his home stretch in California, and the resultant droughts there.

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