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[sticky post] Welcome to Cafe Nowhere

skull gloves
Hi! ¡Hola, y bienvenidos! My name is Lisa Bradley. I write speculative fiction and poetry. My work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Cicada, and Stone Telling. I also have a collection, The Haunted Girl, which just came out from Aqueduct Press. It can also be ordered from Amazon. My agent is Rebecca Strauss at DeFiore and Company. For more information, including a list of my publications, please refer to my author website.

In addition to being a writer, I am a wife and mother. I am Latina, and originally from South Texas, though I've lived in Iowa for 20 years now. I am an atheist, anarchist, and activist. Also, bisexual. I'm a vegetarian, but I'm not going to give you a hard time about it. I have chronic depression, but it's under control and I don't need medical/lifestyle advice, thankyouverymuch. I write about all these things on my LJ. I love horror movies, cars, gothic country, jigsaw puzzles, gin, NBC's Hannibal, whisky, dark chocolate, and art journals, so you're likely to see me rave about those things, too.

I have written a series of posts, "Writing Latin@ Characters Well." I've provided links to each post below and will update this master list as necessary.
What are you?
Where are you from?
No, really. Where are you from?
But you don't *look* Latin@.
Say something in Spanish!
I LOVE Mexican food!
Putting out those fiery stereotypes
Banging down more stereotypes
Ingroup versus Outgroup conversations

Thanks for visiting. I hope we can be friends. :)

Scary News!

bloody drinking
Only 12 hours left to enter to win a FREE copy of my book, The Haunted Girl, via Goodreads! Spooky, sexy, and sometimes shocking, this collection of poetry and short fiction with a South Texas slant will keep your blood pumping through the cold winter months.

Enter now, or tell a friend!

Wednesday Reading: Vacation Edition

book
When I traveled to Texas for my sister's wedding, I took two small, easy to transport paperbacks to keep me from fretting overmuch in the airports. One was Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros, which I believe is her second collection of poetry. The poems are short, so I plowed through about half the book before my brain felt too full of thrilling turns of phrase and genius word choices. The themes are repetitive--a little too fiery for my tastes, especially since they tend toward self-immolatory passions. Which sounds weird coming from me, but... Maybe without grounding context, the passion is too easy to read as melodrama, or romancing martydom? In any case, I'd be happy to finish the book eventually.

The other book was Tropic of Night by Michael Gruber, which was recommended at one of the many "How to (not) Write the Other" panels I've attended, as an example of a white writer doing all right by his POC characters and subject matter. Whereas some folks want an easy breezy read on vacation, I was hooked by the main characters' attention to details. I read a lot of this crime novel (it's no mystery who the murderer is, ever) when I wasn't at the airport; in fact, whenever I needed a break from socializing I picked it up. I'd read it before settling to sleep, too, which gave me a deliciously uncanny experience: I was actually a little unnerved after I turned out the light! I am a huge horror fan, and I'm almost never creeped out by books anymore, so this was a welcome surprise. The creep-out factor doesn't come from the gore, although there's a good amount of that, but because Gruber does an excellent job of showing how an intelligent, highly educated American woman's stubborn rationalism cedes to belief in ritual magic. As I said in my Goodreads review, I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Upon returning home, I returned to There Is No Lovely End by Patty Templeton. This is the Gothic Americana historical fantasy I've been wanting to read for YEARS. Patty's refreshing take on Sarah Winchester moves beyond the long-prevailing "sorrowing hysteric" caricature of the Widow Winchester and her insane house. Equally enthralling are Patty's original characters: criminal brothers Hennet and Walleye; the awful but kinda awesome hellion Hester (she prays neither to God nor the Devil but to HERSELF) and her besotted stalker, a dandy journalist who hangs himself to get her attention, then follows her around in ghost form for years; Hester's ghost-beloved but beleagured son Nathan who's targeted for murder almost the whole book through; traveling medicine man Reverend Enton Blake...not to mention all the animals and houses, all with their own personalities, living or dead. And Patty ties all the story threads together into a deeply satisfying conclusion. It may not be a Lovely End, but I loved it anyway.

No progress on On the Rim of Mexico, but Tweetie and I are continuing with The Fast and the Furriest.

A couple of online story recommendations:
excerpt from "Furious Angels," from the collection We Will All Go Down Together by Gemma Files. I was actually a little mad when I got to the end and remembered "Shit, yeah, excerpt." I definitely need the book now.

"The Husband Stitch" by Carmen Machado. A little funny, a little spooky with its callbacks to urban legends aplenty, sometimes sexy, a lot heartbreaking. It's one of those stories that looks so easy and yet, no one does it like Machado.

"Silent Snow, Secret Snow" by Conrad Aiken. Given my age, my first thought was "Any relation to Joan Aiken?" And yup, her father. This is a perfect creepy story for when the wind turns cold and winter lurks around the corner.

What do you look for in a vacation read? Or, if that's too far-afield for you right now, what are your favorite Halloween-y stories?

Wednesday Morning & the Reading Is Easy

hansel and gretel
My read-aloud with Tweetie of The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry continues at a good clip. The characters are not as dastardly as the cover copy would have you think. The parents are comically terrible and die at a distance while the story focuses on the children, who are not so different from most kids, as is proven by their sweetly growing relationship with Nanny. I believe the book is styled after Lemony Snicket's "Unfortunate Events" series, which I've not read, but it reminds me of Roald Dahl. Next up is The Fast and The Furriest by Andy Behrens, which I bought for Tweetie a while back and which is now on the ballot for the Iowa Children's Choice Book Award.

On the adult nonfiction front, I've made only a smidge of progress with On the Rim of Mexico. The "Asymmetry" chapter is easier for me than the Peso one, but I've needed comfort reading this week.

Thus I began and finished Story of the Scene: The Inside Scoop on Famous Moments in Film by Roger Clarke. At only one page of text per scene (although Clarke felt Spartacus warranted 2 scenes), it was a fast read and informative. I'm a movie lover, if not a cinephile, and yet I was learning things throughout the book. I laughed, I "huh!"ed, I scowled. The entries are arranged alphabetically, which was unfortunate, for several reasons but most obviously because it means ending with a James Bond film, You Only Live Twice. There were a few scenes included more because they are iconic scenes than because Clarke provides any new or especially interesting background, but not too many.

Clarke chose a rather "macho" spread of movies, and it's telling which scenes involving women make the cut: Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet, Sissy Spacek in Carrie, Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby. Not Sally Field in Norma Rae or Meryl Streep in Silkwood, for example. Though two Marilyn Monroe movies make the list, Clarke writes with such disdain for Monroe that I was irked. ...I think I just talked myself down from the 4 stars I gave this book on Goodreads.

Fictionwise, I've been loving There Is No Lovely End by Patty Templeton. What I like best so far about its depiction of Civil War-era America is that everyone and everything we encounter has a story, a point of view, a personality and desire--even the dead, even the animals, even the houses. And yet the story never feels bogged down in those details. Patty, a wickedly wise puppetmaster, plays a light hand over the myriad strings.

Now I'm thinking that comfort reads must be as various as comfort foods. What are your comfort reads? What kind of books do you turn to when you're feeling sad or sick or overwhelmed?

A Shrinking Cosmos

psychedelic tea
The galaxy-print, glow-in-the-dark dress I bought to wear to my sister's wedding celebration arrived this afternoon. It is swoonworthy blue, with a good lining and a suprisingly nice belt. (I say surprisingly because a lot of these super-skinny belts are flimsy. This one is well constructed and covered in the same fabric as the dress.)

It is too big, but I suspected it would be. I got the only size that was left and figured I'd make it work. I'll take it in about an inch and a half on either side of the bust, and JJ has offered to hem it using the sewing machine. I'll also have to add a hole to the belt, so I can cinch it to fit, which might involve a tad of velcro to keep the belt "tongue" from wagging.

Normally I'd not be up for all the extra work, but it's a really nice dress. I wish I'd thought to buy a crinoline to go under it.

Wednesday Reading: Dark and Stormy

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Tweetie and I finished our read-aloud of Rising Storm by Erin Hunter, and before she could throw another Warriors book on the pile, I quick-whoosh picked up The Willoughbys, written AND illustrated by Lois Lowry. To my chagrin, I have now realized that I mistook this book for The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken. WOE and ALAS! The Lowry book is not at all bad though, and Tweetie is not complaining or rolling her eyes. It's a slim book, too, so no harm no foul. Or, No farm no howl, as I first typed.

I zipped through Blood Waters by Chaz Brenchley, a collection of short stories that I liked an awful lot. A blurb on the back cover reads, "Like a diamond dropped in a pool of sump oil" and that is accurate. I feel as if I could pick Brenchley's work out of a line-up. He has that distinct a voice. Some storytellers sound good to the ear but don't work on the page. Brenchley has a firm grip on both sides of the craft.

These stories came from Brenchley's time as a crimewriter-in-residence for a public sculpture project. If I had any complaint, it'd be that the overall tone seemed one-note, a bit depressing even for someone like me. But just when I began to think there were no happy endings in Brenchley's world, I came to the concluding novella, "My Cousin's Gratitude." It feels like a creative "remix" of an earlier story, "Pawn Sacrifice", and it contains its share of ugliness--child porn, abuse, neglect, and drug use, for examples. But in "My Cousin's Gratitude," our antihero does an about-face, reclaims his humanity, and foils the really bad guy. If it's not a happy ending, per se, it's at least a triumphant one. It catapulted me out of the book in a good mood, so I look forward to reading more of Brenchley's work!

Online, spurred by a particularly bigoted review, I read "We Are the Cloud" by Sam J. Miller, which is a near-future science fiction story in which young men in the foster care system are used as human beacons to provide a city with wireless access. The main character experiences aphasia as a result of "clouddiving," of opening his mind to the data that's constantly routed through him. The story hit my soft spot for big guys who aren't too good with words, who are seen as threatening even when they are in fact the victims.

I liked that story so much, I clicked on to read Miller's Shirley Jackson award-winning story "57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides." That horror-fantasy was stylistically marvelous, but I confess, I didn't enjoy it as much because I didn't sympathize with the main character. Normally I don't see that as a requirement, but here the main character tested his power out on animals first, and though no harm comes to the animals and it's all described very circumspectly, I was too squicked out to really trust the character anymore. That combined with Miller's facility at conveying the character's guilt and self-hatred turned me off.

I've now started reading On the Rim of Mexico: Encounters of the Rich and Poor, a collection of nonfiction essays about the US-Mexico border, by Ramón Eduardo Ruiz. The first essay, about the devaluation of the peso and its effects, particularly in the 1980s and '90s, was a little hard for me to follow. It felt like, "you would think the result would be X, and it sort of was X, but it was also anti-X and some Y and Z, too." Economics: not my strong suit. But I've moved on to the next chapter, so we'll see.

Goodreads Giveaway for The Haunted Girl

bloody drinking
I am giving away two copies of my collection, The Haunted Girl, through Goodreads. Click the cover to enter the drawing! And please, spread the word!

haunted girl cover

This contest ends October 31, 2014 and is limited to Goodreads members in the US and Canada. If there's enough interest, I may do another giveaway that's open to (more) international readers.

You can also purchase the book directly from Aqueduct Press or Amazon.

And you can ask your public library to acquire the book. Requesting the book can be especially important if you believe your library collection needs more diversity!

Wednesday Reading

ivana baquero
Tweetie and I are in the home stretch of Rising Storm by Erin Hunter. It's a much better written book than the last in the series, on a prose level, but I feel like a lot less happens also. Next up for read-aloud will be a book of my choice, The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry.

I finished reading Christopher Golden's short story collection, Tell My Sorrows to the Stones. I rather wish he'd stuck to the stones. My enjoyment of the book waned in the second half, once I realized Golden was relying on two story endings, either a sentimental "feel-good" ending or a revelation ending, where the story pretty much stopped at the most exciting part. One story actually stopped and started at the most exciting point, beginning with the end and telling the story in flashback. In another story (about a female sex vampire), the author combined the two endings to predictably awful effect: "Yes, I'm running for my life, but thank god my dead ex-wife (who I cheated on) is still looking out for me!"

The work-related themes disappeared over the course of Golden's book, which was disappointing. That was the facet I most enjoyed in the early stories. And, as I complained in my last reading post, the instant a woman becomes sexual in these stories, you know the hapless male protag is in mortal danger. Very juvenile and misogynistic trope.

After finishing Tell My Sorrows to the Stones, I started Blood Waters by Chaz Brenchley. It's a collection of short stories written when Brenchley was the crime-writer-in-residence on a public sculpture project. I've only read one story thus far, but it was sharp! I look forward to wading deeper into the bloody waters. ;)

Wednesday Reading: Short Forms

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How is it Wednesday again?! Life is like a toddler that keeps running away from me, and sometimes I'm just too weary to give chase.

With the exception of the continued read-aloud with Tweetie (Rising Storm by Erin Hunter), most of my reading this past week has been of short forms.

I finished reading Grace Notes, Rita Dove's fourth collection of poetry. I'd read single works of hers in American Poetry Review in the past, but this was my first time reading a collection. The book begins with memories of youth and concludes with insight into old age. Dove is a poet of surgical precision. Few of these pieces are more than a page long, and several are sonnets or sonnet-like.

The problem, for me, with the surgical approach is that it involves emotional distance. I sense the intensity behind these distillations, but couldn't always share that emotion. The sigils didn't mean the same to me as to Dove, perhaps. Sometimes I had no idea what the poem was even about, which was strange, to be surrounded by recognizable details yet not know where I was. (Maybe like walking into the "your" apartment in the wrong building of the complex.) Rarely was there lyrical lushness that allowed me to get lost in words and rhythms for their own sake. The poems that really sang to me, as snowy_owlet might say, were about childhood, parenting, or strong narratives about family. There, the sigils lined up.

Online, I read a marvelous translation: "Cefalea" (Headache) by Julio Cortázar, translated by Michael Cisco. I haven't read the original story, but the translation feels accurate. I loved the homeopathic neepery as the narrator attempts to maintain order in a disintegrating situation, and the cumulative effect is very satisfying. At first, you won't understand what the hell is going on, but stick with it. Highly recommended!

Now I am reading an ARC of Tell My Sorrows to the Stones, a short story collection by Christopher Golden. I bought the ARC at a fundraiser at WisCon. According to Goodreads, Golden has written approximately three zillion books, so it's no surprise that the prose is polished and the stories well-crafted. I really like when Golden writes about work. I'm about halfway through the book, and already I've "been" a miner, a clown, and a National Guardsman. And amazingly, the story with the Guardsman was about patrolling the US-Mexico border and did NOT piss me off.

(Though Golden describes the Sonoran Desert as land so ugly even the Texas Rangers never worried much about it, when I'm pretty sure the Rangers ignored it because it's nowhere near Texas. I'd hope an editor caught that before the final version, but since the story was a reprint, I kind of doubt it.)

My main complaint so far is that whenever a sexy lady shows up, you can bet things will go bloody. The conclusion of "The Art of the Deal" was so grossly, misogynistically unfair to the sole female character, I had to put the book down for a while. "Thin Walls" pissed me off, too. (Newsflash: Women can be sexy and enjoy sex without being evil!) Skip those stories if you can.
abby
I don't know how scary a movie Oculus is, but it's definitely a horror movie. The premise is pretty basic: two adult siblings try to determine how/why their parents died and whether it had anything to do with a creepy mirror. As soon as you see the failsafe device one sibling has rigged, you pretty much know what's going to happen, and that predictability is why the movie isn't scary.

But it is a horror movie, insofar as the flashbacks portray two children helpless to stop the complete meltdown of their family unit. It's the middle of summer, they just moved into a new house in a new neighborhood, and the preteens are very much captives, at the mercy of adults who have gone totally batshit. Suffice to say, I can identify with kids who know their family has gone completely off the rails, and their bewilderment that no one on the outside even notices. In that sense, the movie reminded me of Stephen King's IT (specifically the girl and her abusive father) and The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum.

FWIW, mental illness is important to the story, and I thought the treatment of it was respectful. I recognized the defense mechanisms each sibling adopted, and I felt for the characters when they realized how flimsy those defenses were against a supernaturally stacked deck.

Also, while this movie is not a found-footage film in the strictest sense of the term, I thought it was interesting to note how easily it could have been. And how inescapable that storytelling method has become.

I really liked From Dusk Till Dawn when it first came out as a movie. Now director Robert Rodriguez has turned it into a tv show. (Scream, Fargo, Hannibal, Teen Wolf, 12 Monkeys…I guess that's the thing to do these days? Turn movies into tv shows?)

The pilot and second episodes follow the original movie opening pretty closely, visually and script-wise. To my great relief, however, Rodriguez (or the network) seems to have ashcanned the "edgy" excesses of the original Tarantino script. I actually whooped when I realized one of the most cringeworthy bits of dialogue got cut. Rodriguez is also retconning in some backstory for our would-be hero, Texas Ranger Freddie Gonzalez, a character original to the series, and for the speculative elements, which I won't spoil.

DJ Cotrona, as Seth Gecko, seems to have taken George Clooney's performance for gospel, but Zane Holtz is more nuanced in his portrayal of Richie Gecko than Quentin Tarantino was—which probably goes without saying? Tarantino is not subtle, ever.

Mental illness is a theme in both versions of From Dusk Till Dawn. But whereas Richie's delusions were rendered with hyper-realism in the movie version, on the television show his psychosis is "marked" for the viewer. The result is that the viewer doesn't experience the delusions with Richie so much as watches and thinks, "Wow, reptilian monster ladies. Really?" So, kind of judgmental. I would've preferred not to have that distance imposed between viewers and Richie. On the other (heavy)hand, the show telegraphs quickly and often that Richie may be attuned to powers his no-nonsense brother simply doesn't understand. In addition to being mentally ill. And strangely obsessed with horchata.

I was reading both Cotrona and Holtz as Latino, but they're not. I might keep pretending they are, just because it's such a pleasure to imagine a majority Latin@ cast. Texas Ranger Freddie Gonzalez is definitely Latino, as is the actor portraying him, Jessie Garcia. Sadly, Freddie is probably the least engaging character of the show, his character arc one we've seen a thousand times. Close second for most milquetoast character is Jacob Fuller, retired pastor and grieving husband. In the movie he was played by Harvey Keitel, which gave him some instant gravitas, but Robert Patrick seems to be struggling to make something of Jacob.

A few female characters are Latina, but they are minor characters so far, with little screen time. The only female leading role in the first two episodes is Kate Fuller, a white teenage girl trapped on a family trip with her father, Jacob, and her passive brother (who, we are told, was adopted from China).

It's too early to call, but I fear my breaking point with this show will be in its portrayal of women. Which, given its source material (much of the original takes place in a strip club called the Titty Twister), wouldn't be surprising. But I will hope that, like the ableist insults and racist vulgarity, the misogyny will be toned down, if not dismissed altogether.

Belated Wednesday Reading

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It's been bumpy, shifting gears into fall, hence my late reading report. Tweetie and I are still reading aloud Rising Storm by Erin Hunter. I am still reading Grace Notes by Rita Dove on my own. It's a slim volume that in no way justifies how long it's taking me to finish it. It's good, I like it, but I've been wanting to "blank out" in the evenings. Much microaggression, many revision, wow.

I read some short fiction, though. On Twitter, I recommended "Herd Immunity" by Tananarive Due. (Honestly, I was hooked the second the narrator confessed that she felt an instinctive trust toward a man she saw from afar just because he had a guitar case on his back. ME TOO!) The story is set after most of the human population has been killed off by a virus. It's not going to give you a happy hard-on, and yet, there's a vibrancy to it that we don't often see in these post-disaster scenarios. The narrator populates her rundown world with such vivid, if fleeting, imaginations. I wondered if she had always thought this way, or if it was a survival mechanism, and if it was the latter, was that imaginative capacity a key aspect of her immunity? I also liked the idea of how dangerous hope can make us, and yet where are we without it?

I'd also recommend Claire Humphrey's "Four Steps to the Perfect Smoky Eye." I only thought it was okay when I finished reading it, but I've been thinking about it ever since. The story is set in a science fictionalized 1980s America, so it is both familiar and not. Uncanny. I recognized some aspects so instantly but others were skewed by the speculative element, problematizing the whole. It made me think about how we (mis)remember recent history, how we (especially women) are manipulated to focus on things that will never change the status quo, and how gaslighting perplexes our views. Very interesting, indeed. I'm starting to wish I'd written it!

FYI, I am on Goodreads, as an author and reader: Lisa M. Bradley. Feel free to friend me there to make reading recs even easier!

The Haunted Girl, now available

bloody drinking
My collection of poetry and short fiction, The Haunted Girl, is now available for purchase from Aqueduct Press. Here's the publisher's synopsis:

The supernatural, the animal, and the deadly often find each other in Lisa M. Bradley's landscapes, tame or wild. Vampires, either restless or filled with ennui; shape-shifters and skin-walkers; demigoddesses of evil and lust; haunted girls and dying fairies—the characters in this collection inhabit worlds of danger, decay, and, sometimes, rebirth. Often rooted in issues of family, ritual, and belonging, the poems and short stories in The Haunted Girl display Bradley's loving mastery of language, which grants us myriad moments of impish wit and startling beauty.

The paperback is $12 and the ebook (epub or MOBI/Kindle) is $5.95. The above link also has all the info you need to request that your library carry the book.

I hope you read it, I hope you like it.

I received my author copies earlier this week. They are very shiny. :)

Wednesday Reading

book
Last week, a storm knocked out our home internet access for three days, so I wasn't able to post a reading update. That I was as frustrated as I was suggests "Wednesday Reading" has become a habit for me, which is good. I think it might be especially helpful during the winter, when seasonal depression makes me feel as if I have nothing worth saying aloud, let alone worth blogging about.

On the read-aloud front, Tweetie and I finished Forest of Secrets by Erin Hunter. YAY! The review is here on Goodreads. My relief was short-lived, however, for Tweetie smuggled into the house the next book in the series, Rising Storm. I think it's better written, but maybe I've just been beat into submission. We are on Chapter 8 of that. Sigh.

In my own reading, I finished Amnesia Moon by Jonathan Lethem and really liked it. Lethem uses the dystopia to more metaphoric ends than most novelists in the subgenre. The laconic prose and swift pacing pleased me. I'd call it literary spec fic, because the science fictional aspects aren't explored in much detail. How our protagonist got into his mess is less important than his reactions to it, and the novel cuts off before we learn whether he succeeds in his rebellion.

For sure, the book had flaws: the women were one-dimensional--when they existed at all--and, as I point out in my Goodreads review, there were elements of transphobia, ableism, and fat-shaming. I was able to read past the first problem because, let's fucking admit it, I've had to do that all my life. The other gross elements I endured because (1) I came to the story with a certain amount of privilege and (2) I thought of them as authorial intrusions rather than part of the story itself. The metafictional aspects of the story (what is the nature of reality? how do we impose order on the contents of our consciousness?) sort of lend themselves to making that distinction, I think.

Now I am reading a poetry collection, Grace Notes by Rita Dove.

I put off starting Grace Notes until I finished a poem of my own yesterday, since I didn't want any "mental interference." I'm interested to hear: how many of my fellow writers avoid reading certain genres when they're working? If you're writing a short story, is reading short stories a problem? If you're a science fiction novelist, do you find it best to avoid SF while you're drafting? Or does reading within genre while writing that genre help in some way? Feel free to share your experience in the comments!

Wednesday Reading

ivana baquero
As the trauma continues in Ferguson, Missouri, the town's public library, established in 1930, offers a sanctuary. Seeing this picture on Twitter reminded me of how important it is that all people, but especially children, have a safe place where they can read: to understand, to learn, to remember, to be comforted, to escape, to imagine. To dream.

Sending grateful good wishes to the librarians in Ferguson, and to all those who strive to make their libraries safe havens.

************************

Read-alouds with Tweetie of Forest of Secrets and The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven continue.

I finished reading Sensation by Nick Mamatas. (I checked the cover blurbs and both were from men, one by China Mieville and one from a writer I'd never heard of before.) As I noted in my Goodreads review, my enjoyment waned about four-fifths of the way through Sensation. I no longer felt connected to the narrative. Perhaps the chaos outstripped narrative tension? Or the shift in point of view to emphasize Julia left me adrift? (most of the book centers her husband Raymond or their overlords) Maybe the ratio of satire to sarcasm changed? I still can't put my finger on it. Regardless, I'm looking forward to reading another Mamatas book, Love Is the Law.

Over the weekend, I read the first two volumes of Chew and liked those pretty well. I could do without the fat jokes and the stereotypically buxom female characters, so I might pace myself with the next volumes, but the system of gustatory "superpowers" is cool and the politics are interesting.

Last night I started reading Amnesia Moon by Jonathan Lethem and discovered that the secondhand copy I bought is signed by the author! Nice surprise. The story launches quickly, and this dystopia promises to be very different from your typical zombie or nuclear apocalypse. I'll admit, I'm a bit concerned this is going to be ALL MEN ALL THE TIME. (The Library of Congress tags are "Young Men--Wyoming" and "Automobile travel" and so far the only participatory female character is a nearly mute young teen who hops in cars with strangers, gets used as leverage, and must be saved.) But I'm only 30 pages in, so let's see.

Next book on my reading agenda is poetry, Grace Notes by Rita Dove.

As always, I'm interested to hear what you're reading and enjoying--or not!

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Wednesday Reading

book
First, a little story about my last book-buying venture.

This weekend I went into a used bookstore without a list of authors or titles, just the desire to browse. I thought it might be good if I only picked out books by women, but that wasn't a hard-n-fast rule I set for myself. The first must-buy I spotted was Amnesia Moon by Jonathan Lethem. I enjoyed Lethem's Gun, with Occasional Music, and Amnesia Moon has a lot of themes in common with my Exile books. I skimmed the back cover blurbs. Except for the first, from Newsweek, all of the blurbs were from men.

The second must-buy was Phantoms in the Brain by V.S. Ramachandran and Sandra Blakeslee, which was already in my Goodreads queue. Skimmed the back to reassure myself it was the book I'd wanted, then noticed the blurbs: one from The Economist and two by men. Huh.

On to the poetry section. I chose Grace Notes by Rita Dove. The blurbs were from newspapers and journals, no reviewer's names given.

Finally a breeze through the World History section, where I found On the Rim of Mexico: Encounters of the Rich and Poor by Ramón Eduardo Ruiz. All the blurbs were from men. Apparently, there are no female professors of Latin American history. :/

So, on this bookstore trip, despite my own preference for women writers, I bought 2.5 books by men and 1.5 books by women--NONE OF WHICH featured blurbs by women, unless those women were hidden behind the name of a prominent publication.

Anecdata to be sure, but next time you buy books, would you do the same informal survey? Are women not considered reliable reccers unless the genre is dominated by women (i.e., romance, urban fantasy, "chick lit")?

Now, on to this week's reading: I've been reading aloud to Tweetie The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie and Forest of Secrets by Erin Hunter. The former was my choice, the latter hers, but she listens to both with interest.

On my own, I'm reading Sensation by Nick Mamatas, published by PM Press. Usually when I attend WisCon, I buy a buttload of books from PM Press, so unsurprisingly I'm enjoying this one. If it were a movie, I'd be a lot more squicked out by the wasps and spiders, but as a novel, I can "avert my eyes," if you will, and focus on the story.

Next up will be Volumes 1 and 2 of Chew, then Amnesia Moon.

What are you reading?

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