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Books read, early October

Roshani Chokshi, The Bronzed Beasts. The culmination of a fantasy trilogy, many things much worse than chickens coming home to roost for characters who have been running out of time to save themselves, their friends, and their relationships with each other for two books now. Magical twists and turns. Glad to be here.

Jan Grue, I Live a Life Like Yours. A disability memoir translated from the Norwegian. Some of his approaches are very culturally and personally familiar. I will note that Grue leans extremely heavily on literal heteronormativity for his appeals to what “like yours” means: he has an opposite-sex partner and a biological child he is raising with his partner, and while he also has a “normal” job, I can’t help but think that some of what he’s doing here, while it isn’t wrong per se, leaves out some of the people I think he wouldn’t want to exclude. So that’s a very interesting balance point. He’s telling his own particular story, which includes those elements, and when he sticks to that part it’s great–it’s when he reaches for the larger point, for what he feels makes him really human, that I start to go, hmm, huh, this is…I think probably not completely what you meant, Grue.

Barbara Hambly, A Scandal in Babylon. 1920s Hollywood murder mystery. Drinking and debauchery generally at arm’s length from a nerdy heroine who is a bit out of her element. Not as much to my taste as the Benjamin January series, but still a fun read and worth the time.

Ada Palmer, Perhaps the Stars. Discussed elsewhere.

Gervase Rosser, The Art of Solidarity in the Middle Ages: Guilds in England, 1250-1550. An interesting analysis for anyone who wants to think past default assumptions about the organization of society in this era, what’s important and why. Rosser’s ideas about guild and gender, for example, go past “everything in England must have been like it was in [preconceptions of] Italy at the time” by quite a wide margin. Not long but good.

Christopher Rowe, Telling the Map. Reread. Someone wanted to talk to me about the first story, so I was just going to reread that, and then I just…didn’t stop. Because I find Rowe’s prose and settings so compelling. I’m very pleased to have looked it up and found that there will be more Voluntary State fiction coming soon, but in the meantime, this is entirely worth its own return.

Lynne Thomas, Michael Damian Thomas, et al, eds. Uncanny Magazine Issue 42. Kindle. Two stories in this really struck me, Betsy Aoki’s “On a Branch Floating Down a River, a Wren is Singing,” and Rachael K. Jones’s “Six Fictions About Unicorns.” Quite different stories, but examining tropes that want a good look, very effectively too.

Cadwell Turnbull, No Gods, No Monsters. This pulled me in immediately, with its layered cast of characters and their varying monstrosity and relationship to their own and other people’s monstrosity. Turnbull’s ability to synthesize contemporary issues so that they can be woven seamlessly into a manuscript that is about other things (and is also about those contemporary issues of race and power and gender and attention management) is astonishing. Also this book is fun to read. What a balancing act. So well done.

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