Archive for the 'bookmaggot' Category

bookish

By the numbers: I read 156 books this year, of which 105 were by women, 73 by queer folk, 54 by writers of color, and 8 by trans people. I reviewed 30 of the books by POC as part of this Dreamwidth community, and they included some of the best books I have ever read: notably Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and The Color Purple.

My discovery of the year is Alexis Hall, who is essentially Georgette Heyer reborn as a fannish, kinky queer, and thus very much to my taste. In a similar vein I also read everything by KJ Charles and Roan Parrish. A book I keep coming back to and reading a page or two at a time is Marion Milner’s meditative, lovely A Life of One’s Own. A book I picked up again after a long hiatus is Gisela Kaplan’s fascinating Bird Minds: Cognition and Behaviour of Australian Native Birds. But if I could persuade you to read a single book I read this year, I would ask that it be The New Jim Crow.

lab girl, by hope jahren

She was always angry and I could never piece together why. With the self-focus peculiar to children, I convinced myself that it must be because of something that I had said or done. In the future, I vowed to myself, I would guard my words better.

the lie tree, by frances hardinge

Faith had always told herself that she was not like other ladies. But neither, it seemed, were other ladies.

a life of one’s own, by marion milner

Why had no one told me that the function of will might be to stand back, to wait, not to push?

sing, unburied, sing, by jesmyn ward

we don’t walk no straight lines. It’s all happening at once. All of it. We all here at once. My mama and daddy and they mamas and daddies.

the red threads of fortune, by jy yang

“I’m sorry,” Mokoya said. “I know I shouldn’t be like this. It’s been four years. I should be better. But . . .” She pushed at blades of oasis grass with her toes. “It hasn’t gotten better. I thought it would get better.”

the black tides of heaven, by jy yang

…here she stood, radiant and triumphant, oblivious to the suffering that collected in the long shadow of her Protectorate.

the murders of molly southbourne, by tade thompson

Slowly, she gets her strength back, but her parents are still dead.

a closed and common orbit, by becky chambers

She didn’t know how a person could sleep so much and be so tired.

an unsuitable heir, by kj charles

I don’t want to be a freakish eccentric. I never did. I just wanted to be myself.

and then a month passed

Alain went home. I was sad. Cait and her family visited! It was fun! We didn’t travel for the eclipse because the kids started school that day. So far school seems to be going okay. It turns out that being a full-time working-out-of-the-home mother of school age children? Is very difficult. Working a few hours a week is much more compatible with actually, you know. Showing up for your own kids.

Julia and I did a wheel class at Pinckney Clay. We’d already done hand building, which I liked fine, but the wheel is magical. It was like riding, or doing yoga. When the clay centered itself, I could feel the rightness of it. You lean into the vortex of the numinous.

I suppose for the sake of completeness I should add that a newish horse at McIntosh launched me into orbit and I landed on my head and neck hard enough to see stars. I went straight from the barn to the doctor: no concussion, no spinal injury. It did a number on my confidence, though. I’m doing lots of yoga and eating healthy and going for lots of calm, positive rides, all of which I should’ve been doing all along. I also had a glorious massage with a dude whose hands were so big he could hold my entire head in his palm. (The offending horse, by the way, turns out to be an utter sweetheart. I can only assume I jabbed him awkwardly with a spur. Just one of those things.)

I’ve been doing another 50 Books by POC challenge. Best discoveries: Deborah A. Miranda, Hilton Als, Sherman Alexie (I know, I know), Frederick Douglass, and Alice Walker (I KNOW.) Right now, I am listening to Walker read her own The Color Purple on audiobook and it’s so good, so funny and wise and wrenching, I look forward to traffic jams. Best rediscoveries: Samantha Irby, Aziz Ansari, Nnedi Okorafor.

The big world continues to burn. I donate, I yell at my representatives, I march in the streets. It’s been filthy hot and today got more and more humid until the sky went black and the light went strange and a thunderstorm broke over the city like the atmosphere bursting into tears.

white girls, by hilton als

as an unreconstructed seventies lesbian, the commercial world of magazines and praise was corrupt, why would I want any part of that, why care, I don’t care.

bad indians, by deborah miranda

The original acts of colonization and violence broke the world, broke our hearts, broke the connection between soul and flesh. For many of us, this trauma happens again in each generation

raven stratagem, by yoon ha lee

sin x2 had said, They’re our Kel. Someone should be with them at the end, even if they never know or understand. Then the others, realizing it would not be dissuaded, left it alone. sin x2 wasn’t under any illusions that the hive Kel cared about it except as an instrument for necessary chores, and sometimes unnecessary ones. It knew that the hivemind became less and less sane with each passing year. Nevertheless, it considered itself Kel. Someone from its enclave should honor Kel Command’s passing.

hashtag funemployed hashtag summer of love

In May, the tech industry and I parted ways under circumstances I am contractually obligated to describe as mutual. Ever since, I’ve been having the greatest summer of my life. The bestie and I drove out to the eastern Sierras to see the wild mustang herds that live up around the Montgomery Pass. The high desert was hock-deep in wildflowers, and we spent three hours one sunny afternoon sitting on a hillside watching the wild horses fight and fuck. Mono Lake looks like the surface of another, possibly better planet, and asks to be further explored.

Then I won a residency at a writer’s center down in Santa Cruz and spent a week alone in a cabin on the edge of the redwoods. There were hummingbirds and mule deer and quail. I’d wake at 6 or 7 as usual, then read for a couple of hours, then have coffee and maybe go for a hike. Then, with only short breaks for meals, I’d draft scenes or type them up until late in the evening. When I got stuck, I’d copy out poems by hand.

I realized that, for longer than I can remember, I have been in an antagonistic relationship with time: late for work, behind on deadlines, scrambling to make as many memories with my kids and parents as I possibly could. Suddenly the days roll out before me, not as ordeals to be endured, but as hours for creative work, hours to hang around with the girls and Jeremy (without whom none of this would be possible), hours to spend at the barn, hours to binge on books.

I always regretted not taking real bereavement leave after Mum and then Dad died. I guess I’m doing it now, just a couple of years late. A friend said: “Your voice sounds lighter.” Idleness becomes me.

slightly behind and to the left, by claire light

It seems sad, but when men leave, the more they leave, the less their leaving means. Some leave before they leave, and others absent themselves without ever leaving. Some were never there to begin with — markers of men who took up the space where a real man should be: Father, Uncle, Minister, Mentor

extracurricular activities, by yoon ha lee

Jedao had a standard method for dealing with new commanders, which was to research them as if he planned to assassinate them.

ninefox gambit, by yoon ha lee

Someday someone might come up with a better government, one in which brainwashing and the remembrances’ ritual torture weren’t an unremarkable fact of life. Until then, he did what he could.

ben, in the world, by doris lessing

The girl became a television star and was to be seen every day on the screens in Rio. This was a kind of happy ending, and the girl certainly thought so, at least at the beginning of her career: when she was older she was not so sure.

hunger, a memoir of (my) body, by roxane gay

She is still small and scared and ashamed, and perhaps I am writing my way back to her, trying to tell her everything she needs to hear.