Tag Archives: reading 2007

Book #23 – A Place I’ve Never Been by David Leavitt

I haven’t read any David Leavitt since Equal Affections in 2001.  I recall not liking it much, though I don’t remember why.  I think in general I’ve liked his short fiction more than his novels.  He’s better when not given the chance to dwell too long in one story.  Instead his short story collections feel like a rambling tale.  All the stories seem connected by threads: some thick, some thin.  But what I truly envy about Leavitt’s writing is his deftness with romantic relationships.  There’s no cheese to them.  There’s clarity and cleanness, even when the characters are confused.  Because the confusion in love is real.  I just wish I could see how he does it because I know there’s a lesson there…

The past week’s work:

Online Reading 7 hours and 22 minutes
Gaming Prep 6 hours and 24 minutes
Work 5 hours and 35 minutes
Chores 3 hours and 55 minutes
Other Reading 3 hours and 51 minutes
Other Writing 1 hour and 23 minutes
VOTS 1 hour and 2 minutes

Still haven’t gotten through the list of things that I set forth on Sept. 3rd…

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Short Story #10 – “The Usual Mistakes” by Erin Flanagan

From an anthology that my brother gave me.  An okay story in that very literary style of wreaked people coming together and becoming slightly less wreaked.  The only thing that bugged me was the shoe-horning of setting into the story,  Considering that it’s set in Omaha, NE, you’d think I’d like the references, but they just didn’t work or were needed.  There’s nothing innate to Omaha that informs the protagonists views.  Don’t know if I’ll finish the anthology.  Most likely I’ll dip into is when I want a non-genre short story to read.

I’ve also read a couple (okay, right now one and a half) David Leavitt shorts.  I’ll probably plow through that anthology (A Place I’ve Never Been) and list it as a book finished.  It’s easy to see why Leavitt’s won awards for his fiction.  His short stories are lean.  Detailed without detail for detail’s sake.

I have to decide on a book to take with to San Bernardino next weekend.  It probably shouldn’t be too gay (no Leavitt) or a library book (no Ellis or Frontal Lobe).  I’ll probably go with Tamara Siler Jones’ Ghost in the Snow, which I’ve kind of started.  Or maybe a Robert Bloch novel with a nice lurid cover.

We’ve got quite a little thunder storm going on outside.  Sadly, one of these days, a microburst is going to take out the mostly dead tree in front of our apartment.  Poor little hummingbird dude will have to relocate.

Yesterday, I received a ‘yes’ from Stone Garden Publishing in regards to Lucinda at the Window, my first novel finished way back in 2000.  They sent me a contract, which upon signing will put in motion a 2009 publication of the book.  Note: I haven’t signed yet.  They’re small, mostly ebook/POD.  That’s not a problem.  I long ago gave up hopes of Lucinda being a big book.  But I’m not one to jump into things and I want to be sure the contract is good.  And I’m not going to get too excited because there’s probably 27 other things that could still go wrong in the process.  (I’m a pessimist.  We don’t take rejection *or* acceptance very well!)  Couple that with the fear that they say yes to every manuscript they see.  I’m not saying it’s so.  I’ve been turned down by some shoddy places, and Stone Garden looks solid.  But if nothing else, it is kind of nice to have an “impressed with your writing” by someone who doesn’t love me.

Darn, I changed my LJ layout to one that doesn’t include my tags.  I am lost.  Lost!

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Book #22 – Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco

Slow start.  Take whatever book you’ve ever read that had a slow start and add about 5000 words.  The book’s plot  and central idea is much better than its writing is.  I wonder what it would have been like written by King or Bloch.  Or even Straub.  I stuck with it because I wanted to see how Marasco uses his female protagonist.  The women of “haunted” house books are an interesting lot.  Women and homes go together, so what happens when one of them is off-kilter?  I still think it would make for an interesting paper.  Marian is obsessed with the place she lives from the get go, and that is the entire driving force of the novel.

In all, this wasn’t a bad book.  It’s kind of like the difference between a 70s TV thriller with a good plot versus an early 80s slick horror movie with absolute crap for a story.  The former’s story will stick with you even if you were never made nervous while watching.

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Time to wake Eric up from his post-Thursday nap.  I’m hungry and chain-chewing gum.

Book #21 – The Vatican’s Exorcists by Tracy Wilkinson

One of the few non-fiction books I decided to read this year.  I was intrigued because, well, exorcists are a possibly interesting topic.  More specifically, the book could have been titled Italy’s Exorcists or, sensationally, The Possession of Italy.  It focuses exclusively on the proclivity of people in Italy seeking exorcisms or at least freeing prayer.  It seems that in Italy, people decide to see an exorcist like many people decide to see a therapist.  In fact the stigma of mental illness is greater than the stigma of possession.  It makes for a strange contrast.  Not only is this sort of ritualistic religious practice occurring in the 21st century, but there’s also a blurred division that seems to exist between religion and superstition.  It was an enlightening and probably something that will inform the way religious orders are handled in my fiction.

Short Story #9 – “Family Business” by  Jason Marker

A Rifts story.  I usually avoid gaming fiction, but this piece was rather good.  Lots of lovely detail and well-worked setting.  It’s too bad Jason Marker didn’t get a little biographical paragraph at the end because I’d like to know if he is a Texan.  And if he’s written anything else.  (I googled him and found that he’s written a thing or two for Rifts.  Well good, Rifts can always use a few good writers.)

Book #20 – The Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander

Not as good as the first two.  There was too much of event just being strung together rather than providing a good cause and effect.  Not quite as funny either.

Short Story #8 – “Sweets to the Sweet” by Robert Bloch

Little gem of a zinger.  Ruining the whole genre of zingers for the rest of us by virtue of its goodness.

Facing more rewrites on the same scene.  Can’t quite get it right.  Migraine has been impending all day.  I don’t think it’ll hit, but my computer scene is way too bright.

Book #19 – 84, Charing Cross Rd. by Helene Hanff

A re-read so re-read that considering it part of my yearly book count is almost like cheating.  But I say almost since I never make 30 books in a year anyway.  And it’s all Rune’s fault, talking about weeding out her personal library.  I just had to go read Miss Hanff’s opinion on getting rid of books.  She’s quite sensible about the matter: sometimes, a book has got to go.  Anyway, it’s a calming, quick read.  One of those little islands of normalcy that make change a little easier. 

Like Suzanne Vega.  I think I’ve listened to her new album everyday since I got it.  She got me through the stress of high school, sang me to sleep via head phones when I had a roommate in college, and made the transition to life in Arizona a little easier when I realized I was an album behind.  Favorite lyrics thus far:

we lie under anesthesia
our wit and wonder snuffed
in our routine operations
our own beauty not enough

Now, I need to get to work, though first I’m sure I will take care of VOTS stuff. 
Happily, there is disc tomorrow morning.

Book #18 – Darkly Dreaming Dexter – Jeff Lindsay

I’ve seen a few episodes of the TV series that’s based on this book, this series of books.  I liked it.  Serial killers, no matter how much they’re done, are generally interesting.  Conversely, I wouldn’t call myself a fan of the genre.  The TV series is slick, well-acted and I look forward to watching the rest of it at some point when I renew my Blockbuster account.  The books…not too sure about after reading the first one.

I’m not a fan of first person, that’s that first strike against it.  I don’t write in first person, so there’s little to learn style-wise.   There’s advantages to narrating a story from within it, to tell what’s going, rather than to have to show everything.  I’m not saying that there aren’t difficulties to writing first person POV, it’s just a different game is all.  That said, Lindsay does a good job with showing detail with colorful narration.  I’ve never been to Miami, but I get a good feel for it from the writing.  Lindsay takes every chance he gets, mainly when Dexter is traveling from one place to another, to paint Miami into the background.

What I didn’t like…  Sometimes the narration, from Dexter’s POV of course, got a little tedious.  I could skip a paragraph occasionally and not miss much.  I also found the psychological underpinnings to be a hokey, but I was happy he ended the story in a reasonable manner.  There was a road that Lindsay could have gone down that would have caused books to be thrown.  He did make some effort to end it in a plausible way.  The very end, I’m of two minds about.  On one hand, he dodged writing a difficult part; on the other hand, that difficult part would have been something not particularly interesting.  So, it’s all good.  Will I read the next book in the series?  Maybe.  *shrug*  Darkly Dreaming Dexter didn’t suck and was a fun read.  Lately, I can’t ask for anything more.

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Eric is off to his first class.  I’m so nervous for him!  We had a nice morning.  He stayed out of my way until about 10am, at which time we talked about Divine Fire.

Saw 300 over the weekend.  I was disappointed.  It was pretty, but I had seen all the pretty parts in the trailer.  The voice-over was annoying, not particularly well written.  I had hoped that all the negative things I had heard about the would be overshadowed by thrilling battles, but I wasn’t very thrilled.  I would have liked a clearer view of the geography of the area and seen some indication of where battle lines were moving to instead of so many closeups.  Maybe I’m jaded with the likes of Ridley Scott and Peter Jackson informing what battles should look like.

Playing around with Slacker online radio.  Like I needed another online music option.  This one does do some good artist suggestions though.