Monthly Archives: April 2012

#Readathon Wrap-Up and Book No. 8

Read-a-thon Wrap-Up

The Spring 2012 Read-a-thon was pretty much a bust for me. Hungover on 3 hours of sleep is not the best way to go into 24 hours of reading. Plus, a friend of ours has been a little worse for wear and, well, I’m the healer of our EQ2 group. I ended up gaming during the afternoon and evening. When we called it a night at 11pm, all I wanted was sleep. Continuing to read did not sound like fun at all.

I did finish one short book, a novelette, a few chapters of A Clash of Kings, and a bit of poetry. About 180 pages in all.

Book #8 – Heaven by Mur Lafferty

Heaven is book one of Mur Lafferty’s Afterlife Series.  I like stories that play around with theology. The initial premise of the Afterlife Series is that everyone has their personal heaven. And every religion has their own personal corner of the afterlife. Kate and Daniel, our two protagonists, become disenchanted with the usual concept of Christian heaven and take to the road, visiting other theologies and having adventures. And I really liked the first half of the book.

This series started its life as a podiobook serial with, I believe, a chapter or so being published in audio form every week or so as a “season.” As such, the plot has an episodic feel to it and a somewhat rough progression. The ending is very rushed, especially considering the leisurely early chapters, with quite a bit of exposition. It probably would have been better as a 230 page book instead of a 130 page book.

Halfway through the book, Lafferty changes from the first person POV of Kate to the first person POV of Daniel. Unfortunately, the character’s voices aren’t quite different enough to not be confusing. There is some necessity to the change, but it still doesn’t work particularly well.

Read-a-thon Update Post

Initial Notes: Betsy’s post-dissertation shindig was last night. I drank too many beers. And went to bed at 2am… Still feeling the beers. Anyway, this is the post I’ll be updating all day.

Introductory Questionnaire

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Tempe, AZ
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Steven Millhauser’s The Barnum Museum
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I think I might be able to convince my husband to go on a doughnut run when he gets up.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I’m a writer by trade. I like ultimate frisbee. And beer. 😉
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? Read more short stories to change things up a little.

05:28, Saturday
Book: A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin, pg. 372
Food & Drink: Yesterday’s coffee (1/2 mug). Water.
Noise: Morning earworm – “Whole Wide World” by Wreckless Eric
Environment: Back room, overhead light.
Other Activity: Introductory Questionnaire (above), some Twittering

06:21, Saturday
Book: A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin, pg. 385 (This is a re-read, but, wow, I don’t remember *that* happening.)
Food & Drink: Ham, egg & cheese on an English muffin. Diet Sun Drop.
Noise: The city waking up. Birds.
Environment: Back room, overhead light.
Other Activity: Cooking.

07:53, Saturday
Book: “Sauerkraut Station” by Ferrett Steinmetz (Giganotosaurus, November 2011), Pg 8
Food & Drink: None
Noise: Nothing new.
Environment: Couch.
Other Activity: Nap! (Already. But I did only have three hours of sleep.)

09:03, Saturday
Book: Sauerkraut Station” by Ferrett Steinmetz (Giganotosaurus, November 2011), Pg 28 (Yes, I’m a slow reader.)
Food & Drink: Robin Eggs, Coffee, Water.
Noise: I’d like to put on a soundtrack, but nothing’s coming to mind.
Environment: Back room, natural light.
Other Activity: Little bit of web surfing.

10:02, Saturday
Book: Reading a few poems from Minorities. I think I’ll hit Mur Lafferty’s Heaven next. (Picked it back up at pg. 11)
Food & Drink: Nothing new.
Noise:  Nothing new.
Environment: Back room, natural light.
Other Activity: Turn to Page… Mini Challenge

11:05, Saturday
Book: Mur Lafferty’s Heaven. (Pg. 22)
Food & Drink: Popcorn, water.
Noise: Nothing new.
Environment: Back room, natural light.
Other Activity: Phone call from Chris, talked to Eric a little.

12:05, Saturday
Book: Mur Lafferty’s Heaven. (Pg. 40)
Food & Drink: Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg, water, coffee.
Noise: Nothing new.
Environment: Back room, natural light.
Other Activity: Nothing else.

13:11, Saturday
Book: Mur Lafferty’s Heaven. (Pg. 67)
Food & Drink: Water Diet A&W Cream Soda.
Noise: Listened to some Bernard Herrmann for a while.
Environment: Back room, natural light. Er…the bathroom.
Other Activity: Nothing else.

16:28, Saturday
Taking an EQ2/Dinner/Nap break.

19:11, Saturday
Book: Mur Lafferty’s Heaven. (Pg. 110)
Food & Drink: Carrot Cake Ice Cream, Pepsi Max
Noise: Nothing
Environment: Back room, natural light and overhead light.
Other Activity: Nothing else.

Page Count: 180

Dewey’s Read-a-thon, Spring 2012

Dewey's Read-a-ThonDewey’s 24-hour Read-a-Thon – Spring Edition!

Now, I fully realize that it’s a bit silly to spend the whole day reading for no better reason than other people, mostly strangers, are doing it on the internet, but it is one of those hermity things that I very much enjoy. In fact, I look forward to it like kid looks forward to Christmas. It’s an excuse to relax, quietly, and read.

Starting at 5am tomorrow and going as long as possible, I’ll be reading. And probably blogging some, most definitely writing some (since I’m behind on my writing), and probably doing some random house cleaning as I stretch my stiff back.

The TBR List

From my usual weekly reading:

  • A couple of chapters of  A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin.
  • At least a short story from Steven Millhauser’s The Barnum Museum (been looking forward to starting this anthology)
  • Read a few poems from Minorities
  • Sauerkraut Station” by Ferrett Steinmetz (Giganotosaurus, November 2011),

And when I’m done with that I’ll move on to:

And who knows what else! I’m pretty bad at keeping to lists and I’m a slow reader.

My fridge is stocked with highly caffeinated beverages, left-over Easter candy, and pizza bread. Plus, I have a husband that will probably gather grub for me.

It should be a good day.

Book #7

People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction & Fantasy by edited by Rachel Swirsky & Sean Wallace

My husband jokes that I bought this anthology only for the Peter S. Beagle story. This is, in fact, not entirely true. I had already read “Uncle Chiam and Aunt Rifke and the Angel,” but Beagle’s inclusion definitely gave this collection some weight. The deciding factor was Rachel Swirsky as co-editor. I’m not a huge reader of current fiction. If I get to a book within five years of it being published, that’s akin to traveling at light speed for me. The exception is my yearly attempt to read the Nebula and/or Hugo nominees before the winners are announced. Through this process, Rachel Swirsky’s short stories appeared on my radar and haven’t left.

I found the anthology to be strong on the whole, but there were a couple of stories, like Michael Blumlein’s “Fidelity: A Primer,” that seemed to lack speculative aspects. To me, speculative elements can’t entirely exist in a character’s mind. There has to be some…manifestation, or some true question about what’s real. Otherwise,  it’s no different than literary fiction. I also would have like a little more future-set science fiction. Matthew Kressel’s sci-fi tale “A History Within Us” was a great way to end the anthology, but it made me realize what was missing.

Other outstanding stories:

“The Dybbuk in Love” by Sonya Taaffe – A beautiful, near-perfect short story.

“The Muldoon” by Glen Hirshberg – The creepiest thing I’ve read in a long while. I have Hirshberg’s The Two Sams heading my way.

“Golems I Have Known…” by Michael Chabon – A story is about being a writer. I remember now why I have The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay on my shelf, but I don’t understand why I haven’t read it.

Book #6

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn’t Go Away by Jennette Fulda

I had been following Jennette Fulda’s Pasta Queen blog, about her weight loss, for quite a while when she revealed that she had a headache that wouldn’t go away. She’d had it for months.

“Well, that’s not good,” was my silent understated response. I’d had manageable headaches, both sinus-related and migraines, since my teens. I knew how awful a headache could be. As a internet voyeur to her life, I was concerned and curious about her treatments and her stories about coping with it. Fulda is an entertaining, honest writer. She was amazingly sensible about her weight-loss. But blog posts about her headache were few and far between. It’s a few years later now and I understand why, even before reading Chocolate & Vicodin, she didn’t blog about it much.

Chronic pain is a difficult thing to savvy. Everyone has pain once in a while, but we *know* that it goes away. Except, sometimes it doesn’t. Like really huge numbers, it’s hard to wrap your brain around the concept of constant pain. This goes for sufferers and non-sufferers alike. We immediately want to know why the pain exists and what can be done to make it go away. The answers (if there are answers) are not simple, but we want them to be. Jennette writes about the anger, guilt, and depression that goes along with suddenly being thrown into a situation that’s confusing and literally painful.* Well-meaning people, bent on finding solutions for her, do not really help. The nature of the internet is one of interaction; sometimes, it’s counter-productive to be interactive. Plus, when you live with something that constantly takes attention, you don’t really feel like mentioning it as much as you deal with it.**

Jennette also touches on the nature of narrative in this memoir, and I think maybe that’s where human beings get stuck. We want an ending, preferably a happy one. Chronic illnesses don’t have an ending. As far as I know, Jennette still has her headache. By the last page of this memoir, she’s learned to deal with it somewhat, to use the good days, to not spend her time waiting for the headache to go away. But there’s no real end to her story. Chronic is the antithesis of story and we’re left dealing with how unnatural that seems.

This book was a quick read. Fulda is still entertaining, honest, and sensible.

* Unlike Fulda’s headache, the arthritis pain I deal with has been slowly creeping up on me for  the past fifteen years. I don’t know if that’s better or worse.

** I don’t write much about my RA. It’s boring to me to write about it.