What did you just finish reading?
Growing Up Weightless, John M. Ford. Reread. Still gorgeous. Hard to describe - it's so dense that when I try I always wind up leaving things out. But it's not dense in an inaccessible way, it's just dense in that that's what happens when you pack an entire world and a lot of very very real people with weight and history and relationships into <300 pages. The sheer number of things that feel right is astonishing - the way people move on the moon. The trains. The garden-dragons. People's relationship to water. The RPers - like, Ford gets roleplay *right,* and uses it as something that advances the story rather than dropping the story dead, and I don't even know how. The POV shifts, also, are something that shouldn't work but do and beautifully. And there is so much in here about the relationship between parents and teenagers that I just - wasn't yet able to understand, at 22, that I can now at 26.
Books like this make me want to grow up, and gain wisdom.
Pastoralia, George Saunders. I liked this rather better than In Persuasion Nation, possibly because I had more attention to give it, but possibly because the stories here average longer and therefore have more room to have emotional arcs. Still not sure that this is my Kind of Thing. Some of the stories have characters who are trying in spite of the world and themselves, underneath the style, and I like those - the title story, and "The Barber's Unhappiness," and "The Falls." With the others, I'm just impressed by the technique.
I actually only mostly finished it, as the library copy is missing pages - the back half of "Sea Oak," which turns out to be the story about the strippers that I've read before, and the first half of "The End of FIRPO in the World." Accordingly I have not yet read the latter.
Which means that "the others" here, now that I count... just means "Winky." Hm. I guess it left a really strong impression? Apparently I dislike it that much when the writerly empathy that's necessary for accuracy gets turned to the service of mockery.
Nectar in a Sieve, Kamala Markandaya. (lent by Potential Boy C) Early postcolonial Anglo-Indian lit. The life story of a farmer's wife who witnesses (read: is fucked over by) colonial industrialization, told with quiet restraint. Lovely, but thoroughly depressing. I kept on wishing that the lead character were less of a cipher - that she would be allowed to have hopes and dreams and an inner life, rather than just falling into one new (usually lesser) rhythm of endurance and survival after another. But I suppose that's the bloody point.
One character is a slut-shamed villainess and I was a mite uncomfortable with that, but it's not book-ruining.
What are you currently reading?
To Serve God and Wal-Mart, Bethany Moreton. Gushed about this last week. Still pretty excellent, although the current section is claiming a casual link between the rise of the service economy undermining traditional notions of masculinity, and the rise of the paternity-obsessed, homophobic strains of the Christian Right. It's a link whose logic makes a fair deal of sense when Moreton unpacks it, but that I wish she were backing up with evidence as well as logic.
backburnered: How Bad are Bananas?, Mike Berners-Lee.
What books did you acquire this week?
From the library: The Boy Kings: a Journey into the Heart of the Social Network, Katherine Losse.
From the pop-up used bookstore outside my doctor's office, for my will is weak: The Borrowers Aloft, Mary Norton; The Victorian Internet: the Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-Line Pioneers, Tom Standage; Art & Architecture of Cambodia, Helen Ibbitson Jessup; Sondheim & Lloyd-Webber: the New Musical, Stephen Citron; The Collapse of the Soviet Military, William E. Odom