liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Recently read: I'm really impressed at people who were getting Yuletide recs out within a few days of the event!

fanfic and politics )

Currently reading: A journey to the end of the Millennium, by AB Yehoshua. I'm enjoying this, but with some caveats. It's subtitled A novel of the Middle Ages, but in many ways it's quite aggressively modern, and I think that is probably deliberate, but it's not the immersion in a different culture that I look for in historical novels.

I really like that it breaks the Eurocentric perspective of much of modern writing about the Middle Ages, it treats white Christians as this peculiar tribe eking out an existence in the barbarian lands of northern Europe, with the Jewish and Muslim viewpoint characters as the sophisticated travellers visiting these primitive lands and trying to avoid rousing the superstitious natives to violence. And within that, the plot about an African Jew who's completely bemused by this bizarre new German concept that marriage is supposed to be between one man and one woman. But the sexism and racism are twentieth century sexism and racism, projected back onto Ye Olden Dayes. The major female characters are nameless, just "The First Wife" and "The Second Wife," and the novel opens with a long and mostly pointless scene about the protag psyching himself up to satisfy both his wives in a single night. That's not, gender roles were different in the 10th century, that's exactly reproducing all the other litfic ever about middle-aged men angsting / fantasizing about their virility. Likewise the only Black character (though most of the main characters are not exactly white) is "the black slave" and seems to be very stereotyped, and again, it's modern racially essentialist stereotypes, nothing that feels authentically period.

I'm finding de Lange's translation a bit awkward. In some ways it's quite successful at conveying the feel of reading Hebrew, full of allusions to the scriptural language which is at the root of modern Ivrit, and it's poetic as I imagine Yehoshua's writing must be. But it's also quite intrusive, I don't want to be constantly feeling that I'm reading a translation. Never clunky, it's not over-literal to the point of being completely unidiomatic, but it's just distancing.

Up next: Surely Katy by Jacqueline Wilson, because I have been unknowingly waiting for this book for most of 30 years.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: Don't use that tone of voice with me, internet friends

This one is from ages ago, partly because I'm not ready to post election reaction linkspams yet (and I may never be, I'm watching this from a distance). And partly because it was posted on Imzy and Imzy has only recently launched publicly, making it possible to link to content there. (It's still horrible low contrast and otherwise unreadable; for this essay it's well worth a workround like copying the text into a text editor, if you can.) I'd previously encountered Sciatrix as an extremely brilliant commenter on the kinds of forums that have weighty, thinky comments, like MeFi. And the Imzy platform has finally tempted her to make her own blog, which is awesome. I was extremely pleased to discover that she sometimes lurks on this DW, too.

Anyway, Sciatrix talks about tone of voice in plain text and in contemporary internet subcultures, and segues nicely into the psychology of criticizing people without making them defensive, and the tone policing / callout-culture issues that are such a live wire right now... on reflection, this is perhaps not a totally unpolitical link.

Currently reading: Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie. I'm a few chapters in and loving it just as much as I expected from Ancillary Justice.

Up next: If I'm feeling brave enough, I think I might try Umberto Eco's fictional history of antisemitism The Prague Cemetery, which has been on my to-read pile for some years and feels quite timely now.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: Very misc collection of essays and such
  • Via [personal profile] soon_lee: Ann Leckie on guilty pleasures. Leckie makes some fairly obvious points about how the concept of a "guilty" pleasure is often snobby and sexist, but expands on that with some interesting thoughts about criticizing tastes of those who don't belong to the group you want to identify with.

  • [personal profile] kalypso wrote Strange and Norrell fic. It's explicitly based on the TV series (which I've watched slightly under half of), not the book, and I think it really captures the atmosphere but not so much Susanna Clarke's distinctive voice. Massively spoilery for either the series or the books, though. And, uh, the fic is about gaslighting someone with memory loss, in case you don't know the books but want to read anyway.

  • Following links from something else, I found this Q&A with a sleep scientist, which makes a nice accessible summary of recent evidence. There's also quite a lot of discussion about SIDS (cot death) risk, which might make it hard reading for some; I really pricked my ears up at:
    But most people who want to ‘ban co-sleeping’ don’t think any of [the relevant evidence that the risk may be lower than thought] matters, because it isn’t an important or valued behaviour for them. It is valued by cultural minorities and breastfeeding mothers, not the people who (previously) made up the guidance.

  • History of the song L'homme armé, with a long and fascinating diversion about the Crusades and the fall of Constantinople.

  • [livejournal.com profile] siderea has a lovely piece Forward into light about the history of the US women's suffrage movement. Which reminds me, I am most grateful to all my American friends who are talking about voting, and especial kudos to people who've looked into ballot measures and elections for offices other than PotUSA where that's relevant in their locality. We don't do democracy quite like that but I'm alwyas impressed when people put serious effort into participating and citizenship.

Currently reading: Still In a time of gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor. He's in Austria atm and I have a weird second-hand nostalgia for 1930s Austria, since many people in the community I grew up with were refugees from there. It's a little too poignant to read Fermor looking back on the way of life that, writing in the 70s, he knew was about to be destroyed with the massive swing to the right and eventually the Anschluß.

Up next: I am not sure, I'm leaning towards Two serpents rise by Max Gladstone.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Recently read: Lots of good stuff! linkspam )
Currently reading: still A time of gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor and Sisterhood by Penelope Friday, but in practice I haven't been reading much this week, I've been spending time with [personal profile] doseybat and [livejournal.com profile] pyrokaren.

Up next: I've got to the stage where it's halfway through Elul and I haven't written any High Holy Days sermons or learned any Torah readings yet, so most probably material for that.

I'm considering picking up Hilary Mantel's contemporary Beyond Black as my book with a color in the title for my reading challenge, since it's been waiting on my shelves for ages.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: this was just bullet points but it grew )
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
So my extremely brilliant friend Jen has written a fantastic popular article about her research: Why it's absurd for a pastor to give Donald Trump a Jewish prayer shawl. You should read it, it's only tangentially about Trump, it's about the history of Jewish ritual objects and about Jewish-Christian relations.

Also, I have thinky thoughts )
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: A couple of really great, thinky reviews:
I'm not always as enthusiastic about Laurie Penny as many people in my circle, but they hit it out of the park with Life-Hacks of the Poor and Aimless. It's a really nuanced and thoughtful piece about self-care and wellbeing, considering both the ways that these things are undervalued especially for women and marginalized people, and the ways that they are repackaged and exploited within the capitalist system. There's a bit of that irritating young lefty anxiety about whether one's life choices are sufficiently "radical", but still very well worth reading.

Currently reading: A wild sheep chase, by Haruki Murakami. This was a present from [livejournal.com profile] ghoti. It's very atmospheric, but the atmosphere it creates is somewhat bleak and miserable. It's sort of doing the litfic thing where the recently divorced narrator is sad because his comfortable but unexceptional life isn't as exciting as he might have hoped when he was younger, with the accompanying rather annoying attitude to women. But at about a third of the way through, this is looking like a frame for doing other things, a bit magic realist, a bit thriller, with the protag getting very politely kidnapped by the mafia boss. It's told in a somewhat non-linear way, so I'm not yet sure how all the different facets of the story fit together.

Up next: I'm travelling to Hungary next week, so I am not quite sure if I'll end up with loads of time for reading or very little. The next thing on my e-reader is Blindsight by Peter Watts. Unless someone wants to rec me a Hungarian book which is available in translation, in order to be thematically suitable?
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: Lots of really great stuff on my reading lists currently. I recommend:


Currently reading: Still Ghost spin, by Chris Moriarty. It was a bit slow to start in a way but it's picking up and is doing lots of cool stuff with the same character in multiple timelines.

Up next: The next thing on my extremely slow reading challenge list is A book with a color in the title. I've just sent most of my to-read books back to my real house with [personal profile] jack, so I can't look through them and see if anything qualifies. [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel gave me Burning days by Glenn Grant as a belated birthday present, so that's a likely choice. Or maybe some of the genuine Hugo nominees; I've been meaning to pick up Uprooted by Naomi Novik for a while.
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
So I'm pretty intensely pro trigger warnings. I generally agree with people like [personal profile] jimhines: that it's nonsense to consider TWs as censorship. Most of the arguments I've seen against TWs are like Stephen Fry's nonsense (which started this round of the debate), people who feel that the highest moral principle at stake is their so-called free speech right to bully people who are already getting crapped on by society.

more discussion of the TWs question, with some abstract mentions of the sorts of things that may need TWs )

But that's why I'm a lot more concerned about students getting too little support than too much, anyway.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Apparently it's world poetry day, which I didn't know until I started seeing lots of cool poems on my reading page. I particularly loved (though I don't fully understand it) this Auden quoted by [personal profile] kalypso: In praise of limestone

I feel like I ought to be the kind of person who would immediately think of a poem to put here when I belated discovered that somewhere in the nation of internet we're celebrating poetry. But I'm not really, I'm not immersed in poetry to that extent. Like, I have some favourite poems, but they're mostly really obvious dead white men ones that I studied in school, or more often that my Dad learned in school, when the curriculum was even more heavily slanted towards the obvious Romantics. I mean, I love Kipling and Housman and Auden, but who doesn't, from my sort of background? And even with poets I claim to love, I often only know their most obvious pieces, the ones that get quoted in books like 'the nation's hundred favourite poems' and used as markers of having the right sort of education. And my poetry books are in Keele, not here, but I could probably find something in one of [personal profile] jack's anthologies, my tastes are obvious enough.

My brother [twitter.com profile] angrysampoet posted a really thinky blog post recently, which is about lots of different things, including how he's managed to transcend just liking the obvious things that everybody with our kind of upbringing likes, and become a professional poet who's very much involved in the contemporary poetry scene: Slam poetry is a genre. I disagree with him about some points, particularly where he falls into the lazy reflex of blaming social media for the ills of our generation, but there's a lot to think about in his piece.

Particularly: People who write poems once or twice in their life for someone’s birthday or Valentine’s Day will write in cliché. And yeah, that's kind of me, I've written more than two poems in my life but not a lot more, and most of what I write is cliché because I don't write – or read – enough. It's not that I have ambitions to be a professional poet like my brother, it's that what he's saying fits into stuff I've thinking about to do with making creative stuff more accessible to people who just want to do it for fun (shout-out to [personal profile] mirabehn who's been talking interestingly about this topic elsewhere). I want to do more creating, not because I want to compete and be the best poet, or because I want to make money at it, but because creating stuff is satisfying and uplifting, and because when I do write poems for friends and lovers I'd like what I write to be a worthy gift and not just a thing they put up with because they like the gesture.

There are probably other creative things I could be doing more of, writing fiction as well as blog posts, possibly drawing. The other day Judith got me to join her in a drawing challenge, and I think I should follow her example of getting into the habit of just sketching things, not for any particular reason other than that it's fun.

But anyway, I wanted to say I'm most grateful to people who post poetry, their own or other peoples', whether for World Poetry Day or any other reason. You're doing a good thing by making poetry something that 'normal' people can enjoy, without proving a point about talent or social status or anything else.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
So you know that silly thing on Tumblr where people complain about new-fangled linguistic conventions, and people try to repeat the complaint in older and older styles of English? Well, [personal profile] lethargic_man has made a real version of this, reading the first chapter of Genesis in English starting from 500 and gradually updating the language until the current day. It's a seriously amazing piece of work, no, not rigorous academic scholarship, but he's looked stuff up properly rather than making a guess based on vague half-remembered history of English classes.

1500 years of English. It's a video; the audio track is the main point, but the words are written across the screen showing how written English evolved too. So it's inherently somewhat accessible though not as useful if you can't hear the audio, and you get most of the point without the visuals, so I don't think there's much to be gained by a text description.

I think lots of you may appreciate this, [personal profile] highlyeccentric and [personal profile] forthwritten and [personal profile] pne spring to mind, but I bet there are lots of other people I haven't thought of who will be impressed.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
No real theme, just people being interesting:

  • [personal profile] jack posted something really thinky about formal logic and common sense.

  • [personal profile] sovay posted a really interesting review of a 1944 film, There are a lot worse things in this world than losing one's beauty. The film involves a Jewish character losing his sight as a result of being tortured by the Nazis, and [personal profile] sovay discusses how awful it is that this is mostly portrayed as back story and support for the non-Jewish, non-disabled heroine's emotional arc. But at the same time it's a really interesting analysis of a film which directly references the Nazi genocide in 1944, while it was still ongoing. Some really interesting discussion in the comments on LJ side about very early media portrayals of the Holocaust.

  • [personal profile] rachelmanija is posting a lot of really fascinating Hamilton meta lately. In the comments to one of her recent posts, [personal profile] brainwane linked to this really thoughtful, profound analysis of Iago in Shakespeare's Othello by Max Gladstone: What the f*ck, Iago?
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
Work has been intense lately, mainly because I'm about to go to Amsterdam for a conference where I'm presenting the data that my senior PhD student only actually finished on Friday. So apologies for radio silence; more when I get back.

I'm also studiously ignoring Holocaust Memorial Day because I just can't deal with the pieties in conjunction with the actual treatment of refugees and disabled people. Being away is a good excuse not to have to attend this kind of event. And yes, I know some people are actually doing valuable educational work, both on the internet and in person, but those people are not the ones who keep inviting me to stuff.

So, anyway, Reading Wednesday, just quickly.

Recently acquired: I had a very successful charity shop raid with [personal profile] angelofthenorth when she visited a couple of weekends ago, even acquiring some clothes that fill gaps in my wardrobe. We drove out to Buxton mainly to enjoy the view of the Peak District in the snow, and Buxton is one of those down-at-heel towns that has really good charity shops and antique shops and not much actual economic activity.

So anyway, I snagged King's Dragon by Kate Elliott, an author I like in principle but I'm a bit scared of her tendency to write huge multi-doorstep fantasies. So since I found the first in a definitely finished three-part trilogy, I thought I'd give it a go. And The constant gardner by John le Carré, which I've been intrigued by for a while.

Recently read: No fiction. I have been thinking a lot about this longread on disability by Johanna Hedva: Sick woman theory. I am not often convinced by the kind of extreme social model view that what we experience as illness is mainly a problem with capitalist society, but Hedva is saying something a lot more nuanced than some of the examples I've come across, and certainly doesn't fail to note that chronic pain is in fact objectively unpleasant, regardless of how society is organized. She's also discussing a wide range of interconnected topics, including the concept of "public", and she brings in a lot of fairly serious references to contemporary feminist thought.

Currently reading: More or less nothing, which is less weird for me than it was a few years ago, but still weird.

Up next: I'm not sure if I'm going to have time for reading when I travel or not, there's quite a lot of time on trains and ferries involved. Perhaps some long fanfics will get me back into the reading mood; I have both Your Blue-Eyed Boys by [archiveofourown.org profile] laleitha and and The World that You Need by [archiveofourown.org profile] dsudis on my e-reader, so I'll see.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Not really reading fiction atm. And all the books I've bought recently are Christmas presents so I don't want to list them here. So have some links to other people's stuff.

  • [personal profile] hatam_soferet manages to make a drain disaster hilarious: A cautionary tale of leaves and drains

  • [personal profile] melannen is doing a really awesome December Days series, and I'm particularly enamoured with Notes on Birth Control and Childrearing for Fantasy Writers. It's very readable and a really great counter collapsing all of history before 1960 into a generic ye olden days when gender roles were exactly like the mid-twentieth century American middle-class ideal.

  • [personal profile] major_clanger explains the non-controversy over the first British astronaut.

  • A DW friend (who is welcome to identify themself if they like) PM'd me to point out a fascinating snippet of history: How to be Jewish – in 1846 London, by [livejournal.com profile] dichroic. I'm actually distantly related to Judith Cohen Montefiore, or at least she appears in family trees with (much less wealthy!) ancestors of mine, I can't remember the exact details but my mother could probably tell you. So it's especially cool that Project Gutenberg has her Jewish version of Mrs Beeton's Book. Well, actually JCM got there first, it seems.

  • And I saw on Facebook a link to Goodbye Sotah by artist Jacqueline Nicholls. Sotah is the tractate of the Talmud which discusses the Torah laws about a wife accused of adultery; I've studied it some for the reason mentioned in the post, that it's one of the main origins for the laws about women's headcovering and modesty generally. I really like Nicholls' respectful yet willing to challenge take on what is one of the more nakedly misogynist bits of Jewish scripture, and I'm also fascinated by her take on the midrash that bringing a married couple together is like splitting the Red Sea. I've always simply read that as 'as miraculous as the splitting' but Nicholls points out that it's not just any miracle, it's a miracle of division: being together has separation and distance at the heart of relationship.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
I've been in a funny mood these past couple of weeks. There have been lovely things, viz:

misc bitty things; mentions death )

Anyway, it's been the kind of time when I keep opening compose windows and not knowing what to say. And I haven't got anything new for Reading Wednesday as I have read basically no fiction in the past couple of weeks. So have some links to other people's writing:

  • I rather appreciated [livejournal.com profile] evilrooster's fic Silence in the hill country. It's not at all the sort of thing I normally like, since it's NT fic for one thing, and for another the main topic is Mary's pregnancy. And I'm slightly hesitant to recommend Christian Bible fic, but as far as I can tell the story is framed in a reverent way; the writer is a practising Christian.

  • A rather sweet story about a so-called natural inseminator, a man who helps women to become pregnant by having sex with them rather than just donating sperm. Although there is a weird bit in the middle where the journalist expresses horror at the idea that people with genetic diseases or autistic people might donate sperm, so if you don't want to run into sudden unexpected eugenics you probably shouldn't follow the link.

  • [personal profile] rachelmanija started a wonderful discussion about how people find hope in a time of despair. I should note, I could hardly be further from despair, there are many many good things in my life and I have more to look forward to. And some of what people are writing about is dealing with absolutely horrible circumstances, pretty much everything horrible that could happen to anyone is in the comments somewhere. I'm finding something very moving about people's descriptions of just still being here after the worst possible things happened to them.
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
I don't often talk about news events; I don't particularly need to participate in the social media circus of uninformed opinions about headlines. I haven't suddenly become an expert on terrorism and international security, but I do have pretty strong opinions about blaming Muslims, or even worse, refugees, for terrorist attacks.

Anyway, several of my circle have said really wise things about terrorism and xenophobia and I wanted to draw attention to them. links and commentary )
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently acquired There were three books I positively wanted in the campus Blackwells' 3 for 2 offer, so my physical to-read pile has grown by:
  • How to be both, by Ali Smith. I like Ali Smith a lot, especially Girl meets boy, which has really stuck with me. And this one is getting a lot of buzz and seemed like something I'd be excited about
  • Being mortal by Atul Gawande. Gawande is a really amazing writer on medical topics, and death is an important one, and I feel reading his non-fiction will help me get better at training future doctors.
  • Fields of blood, by Karen Armstrong. I mean, I'm a huge huge fan of Armstrong and I'm basically interested in reading her shopping list, and the subject of religion and violence seems particularly acute right now.

Recently read
  • Not actually recent, but I was reminded that ages ago I meant to link to this article about historical changes in the nature of phone calls, by Ian Bogost. It's better on the history of the tech and hardware than on the social history, but it does include some of the second. And my Dad worked for a telecommunications company for many years so I was already a bit interested in technological solutions to maximizing sound quality for voice calls with really very limited bandwidth.
  • And this is more images than words, but it's a fascinating summary of How Richard Scarry updated his children’s book.

Currently reading Still The Dervish House by Ian McDonald. I don't have much new to say about it, it's one of those books that I enjoy a lot while I'm reading it but don't have much urge to pick up again when I'm not.

Up next Not sure. The next item on my Bringing up Burns challenge list is a book at the bottom of your "to be read" pile, and my TBR pile doesn't actually have a physical instantiation, it's scattered between my two households and some mental notes about what I have my eye one that I should probably write down.

Likely the draft of my junior student's first year report at some point in the next couple of weeks, plus an ongoing pile of undergrad coursework that I'm probably going to be marking through about January.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently acquired The Pure Gold Baby by Margaret Drabble, from the giveaway shelf at work. I sometimes like Drabble and sometimes don't, but I find it hard to resist free books. And if I don't get on with it I'll put it back on the giveaway shelf.

Recently read
  • Via [personal profile] khalinche, The lonely death of George Bell, by NR Kleinfield. One of those really excellent pieces of non-fiction writing which takes a single individual who's not particularly famous or exceptional, and conveys their character and situation. This is a portrait of what happens when someone dies having no real social connections, while also showcasing a bit what the bureaucracy manages to discover about Bell.

  • And from the other pole of human life, Parenting and pronouns, by Dorian at Beyond the Binary. Some really interesting observations about what happens if you actually take seriously the idea that you can't guess a baby's gender by looking at its genitals, an experience some of my friends are are also going through.

    Currently reading The Dervish House by Ian McDonald. I'm reading this slowly, because it's dense, but in a good way. I love the world-building of near-future Turkey, seen through the eyes of disparate characters who have the sorts of totally coincidental connections that only happen in fiction. As with some of McDonald's other stuff, it's SF in that it has nanotech and political extrapolations, but the atmosphere feels more like fantasy in some ways, partly because magical things happen and it's very ambiguous whether there's an underlying scientific explanation, and partly because the language is really lush and poetic.

    Up next Not sure; I've got a bit under a third of The Dervish House still to go. I'm kind of pining to read Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie, partly cos the whole internet's talking about the third in the trilogy and I'm behind! The main reason I didn't get to it sooner is because [personal profile] jack lent his copy to someone and we can't remember whom, and I'm irrationally reluctant to buy it again when I "could" just borrow it from J. Except that's silly, because obviously I can't borrow it if we don't know where the copy is, and I'm rich enough these days that it won't hurt me to buy the same book twice and I'm happy to support Leckie, she's writing good stuff and seems like a really nice person.

    Today I did good adulting. I saw the nurse practitioner at the campus GP practice, and endured her telling me off for being two years behind on dealing with minor medical stuff, in exchange for her prescribing me some non-expired asthma inhalers and administering a flu vaccine. And I have another appointment for a proper asthma review, which will be tiresome as I've been taking the same medication for 25 years and I know it works for me, but I understand why they want to do this with a new patient, and the nurse agreed to combine (!) this with a cervical smear, which I'm also overdue for and won't be any fun, but hey.

    And I dealt with some email, and other generally useful but boring work tasks, and I showed my face at the Remembrance service in chapel this morning. They got about a hundred people, I think, some of them in military uniform. And the Catholic (with a red poppy) and Free Church (with a white one) chaplains did one of those very Keele ecumenical services which was sweet and sincere and generically theistic rather than intensely Jesus-y, and definitely not about glorifying war and brave soldiers' heroic sacrifices etc.

    I'm doing our Remembrance in synagogue this Friday; I usually try to do it the Friday before Remembrance Sunday, but I ended up just picking the closest Friday to the actual date of the 11th without looking up when the official commemoration was going to be. My Facebook is absolutely lousy with arguments pro and contra marking the day at all, and honestly the people whose politics are generally most congruent with mine are against it. There's not really any question that I'm going to mention it in synagogue, because it's something we've always done since 1918, you don't change the community's customs based on how you feel about Cameron versus Corbyn. But I think it's time for some Sassoon; he was at least arguably Jewish and it feels like this year is his year, everybody's quoting him.
  • liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
    Updating DW in an odd awkward break between teaching. Wow, just like old times. Anyway, I still have many essays in my head but I don't have time to write them, so here is some other people's stuff instead:
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    Recently read:
    • A couple of striking pieces on people talking about their experiences of living in their bodies:
    • A thorough and informative long read about my brother's poetry book and the political background: Poets Of The Rifle: Cultural Resistance From Saharawi Refugee Camps, by Jen Calleja.

    • [personal profile] commodorified's thinky essay and discussion about how fandom talks about writing about rape. I've been meaning to link to this for ages, it's very complex and nuanced and I don't think I can really summarize it, but if you're at all interested in fandom culture and communities of trauma survivors more broadly it's well worth reading (if you can cope with a meta discussion about rape and trauma, of course).
    Currently reading: The first fifteen lives of Harry August, by Claire North. I'm actually most of the way through, I'll probably finish it next time I have half an hour to spare. It's... ok, there's nothing obviously terrible about it, but it just doesn't give me any sense of wanting to read on to find out what happens next. It should be exciting, because it's all about Harry's arch-enemy trying to alter the timeline so that Harry never exists, risking destroying the whole world in the process, so there's plenty of both personal and global peril, but for some reason I'm not emotionally engaged with the plot.

    It feels like much of the book is North exploring a cool idea, that rare people are "Ouroborans" who when they die return to their own births with their memories of their lives, now in the relative future, intact. But she never really moves on beyond exploring the implications of this cool idea, tFFLoHA just doesn't quite hang together as a story. I think a lot of my problem is that I don't like Harry August as a character, he's very self-centred and just annoying, and that's preventing me from engaging with the plot.

    Up next: Next on my Bringing up Burns challenge list is A book by an author you love. So maybe it's time to read the third in Chris Moriarty's Spin cycle, Ghost spin. Or perhaps The Dervish House by Ian McDonald, which I was really excited about a while back but then didn't read because Brasyl really disappointed me.

    Also I'm thinking of reading Das Kapital by Karl Marx, along with a friend who is looking to fill a gap. I love the idea of reading seminal texts collaboratively, but it's possible that this may be a bad idea as said friend is quite a bit to the left of me politically, which might make me an annoying reading partner. And if I do pick up a big scary political tome I will probably read a novel at the same time.

    Soundbite

    Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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