Lori's Book Nook

Archive for the ‘Speculative Fiction’ Category

Yikes! I’m 23 days into the #95books challenge (my first post on that), and only 7 books in…and no real theme to my reading. But that’s not new – and I fully intend on following my nose from book to book.

Continuing the list:

#5 – Julie Powell‘s Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously. I enjoyed the movie – the pseudo-biopic with the delightful Meryl Streep as Julia Child – so thought that reading Powell’s memoir of cooking through Child’s classic cookbook would be fun. It feel off a thrift store shelf into my hand, so that was an easy decision, honestly. In the end, it an amusing bit of trifle, with a lot of honesty and personal anguish: “And as the week progressed the throbbing of my biological clock syncopated with my crepe anxiety until they formed one jazz rhythm.”

#6 – Carol Shields’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Unless. Again, a novel that dropped off a shelf in the thrift store that I’d been meaning to read. Shields’ prose is smooth, deceptively simple, the story carrying the reader along until you realize that you’re deep into it, unable to leave it. The link above is to a Salon review that has a line that struck me as being very descriptive of the experience:

Shields’ fiction has always had this sort of stealth spikiness, like soft fish that, when bitten into, turns up a web of bone, or like that sweet middle-aged lady next door when you were growing up, who turns out to have been watching you more shrewdly and understanding you more completely than you ever suspected.

#7 – Kurt Busiek & Cary Nord’s graphic novel of Richard E. Howard’s stories Conan: The Frost-Giant’s Daughter and Other Stories. Yes! A graphic novel is a book. An early set of stories by Howard, this lovely collection of comics was a hardcover gift to my husband at Christmas. It’s a good yarn, and the story reminds us to beware of what we wish for – always a good lesson.

So…what’s next on the pile to be read? I’ll let you know soon enough!

Ernie Cline is the Numero Uno geek on the Internet…or at least the one who has carved out his niche of geekdom, and becoming successful for actually being a geek.

Spoken word…a screenplay actually produced (that would be the Star Wars homage, Fanboys), and now a novel — Ready Player One:

an homage to 80s geekdom

Simply put, the novel is a distopic look at our world in a possible near future, where all energy is focused on one enormous simulation game…which is, for various reasons, absolutely replete with 80s pop culture references and recreations. Did I mention it features video games? And it has references to absolutely everything and anything that was popular in a pretty limited time frame…

Not enough for you? The audio book, which I am in the midst of right now, is read by Mr. Wil Weaton!

And it’s a good yarn! Thanks, Ernie!

This fabulous video-fied talk of Stephen Fry‘s reminded me this morning of what I find fabulous about language:

I may get itchy Sharpie fingers when I see signs with inappropriately-placed apostrophes, and I still geek-out to things like my friend’s t-shirt that reads “Does anal retentive have a hyphen?” [Answer: depends on your style sheet?], but give me rich, frenzied writing any day over the terse and uptight.

Give me the verbal lushness and inconsistency of spelling and punctuation of Keri Hulme’s The Bone People (which I’ve already blogged about here)….

…. or the crazy richness of image that is The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway (again, previously blogged here)….

…. or the rich neologisms of Earle Birney (see AngloSaxon Street in this post).

Your favourites?

Lori

Every once in awhile someone hands me a book and says “Read this!” Sometimes it’s because (1) they’ve written it,  (2) they’ve tasked me with reviewing, (3) they think we have the same taste, or (4) they know we have the same taste….

The best is (4), of course. So when my friend handed me a book, saying “you must read this!” — I believed her.

Nick Harkaway’s The Gone-Away World (2008)….a book that blew me away as much as the original movie The Matrix. It’s speculative fiction from word ‘go’ — you know from the first that this is not our current reality (maybe it’s the pig-run generator?), and you also know right from the start that this will be an experience. The writing is fast, furious and delightfully…uh…fucked up.

Do not read any more reviews of this book: Reviewers are notoriously awful at keeping the best bits secret. Do not ask anyone else about this book:  They might let out a spoiler or two.

I will allow you a quote or two, because really, the writing it out-of-this-world. Here’s one of my favourites:

“You have to worry about someone even mimes find creepy.”

You get no more from me on this…find it. Read it.

Cheers,

Lori

…what my good friend Raincoaster said when I informed her that the most interesting link today to this blog was the result of a search for “dystopian poems for kids”.

Seriously, folks.  Children don’t want to read dystopian literature any more than they want to read poetry.

But I know I’m wrong. The Giver by Lois Lowry is unrelenting in its popularity, despite being a dystopia (and now they’re making a movie of it?)

What are your favourite dystopian novels?

Where do you pile your books? My hubby and I have piles on our bedside tables mostly, then some in the living room, the kitchen, the dining room…and they all live in the basement library/movie/party room (technically the ‘family room’).

The other day I was tidying the bedroom, and emptied the already-read and not-going-to-get-read-soon books off the two bedside tables:

Putting books away...

Then, I pulled books from the living room and kitchen to complete the tidy:

More books being put away..

This post for your voyeuristic enjoyment.

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As I have pointed out before, I’ve been reviewing books for the Canadian Book Review Annual for years. Recently, they underwent a bit of upheaval, as they closed their doors due to the prohibitive cost of putting out the annual, but then were taken over by the Dundurn Group.

So, this year was a letter telling me that CBRA was folding, followed by another saying, “No, sorry for that…we’re back on! Expect your books soon!” Yippee!

Without further ado, the books, in no particular order:

  1. Universal Communicator from Ulysses — A small, itty-bitty little book to fit in your back pocket while traveling, with no words. Point to pictures to express your basic needs/desires. Actually quite brilliant.
  2. Shirin and Salt Man by Nilofar Shidmehr (Oolichan Press) — I’m looking forward to this one…albeit the format is new to me. It’s a novel in poetry about Iran.
  3. A Song For My Daughter by Patricia Jean Smith (Oolichan Press) — Absolutely lovely cover, if one can judge books that way. Another Oolichan press book, from Vancouver Island.
  4. The Sherpa and Other Fictions by Nila Gupta (Sumach Press) — Short stories by an Indo-Canadian woman.  I do like short stories!
  5. My Estruscan Face by Gianna Patriarca (Quattro Books) — Even if I didn’t know this was poetry, the cover design screams that fact. The poet, with the amazing name, is award-winning, so I’m looking forward to this one as well.
  6. As Fate Decrees by Denysé Bridger (EDGE SF and Fantasy Publishing) — A truly horrible cover, with a fraught painting that more or less depicts the story. But then, I’ve already read this fantasy based in ancient Greece, and it’s quite good. Despite the cover.
  7. Pretenders and Righteous Anger by Lynda Williams (EDGE) — Parts 2 and 3 of the Okal Rel Saga. Gads, do I need Part 1? Anyway, from the same publishers as #6, the covers of these are just as awful. And it looks like they have the corner on melodramatic cover artists and designers, because all three books have different people in those positions. I’m assuming they will read better than they look. I’ll keep you posted.
  8. Personal History by Roo Borson (Pedlar Press) — This seems to be an artsy memoir.
  9. We are not in Pakistan and English Lessons and other stories by Shauna Singh Baldwin (Goose Lane) — Two books of short stories with beautiful covers. (Not that I’m looking!)
  10. Lift Up Your Hearts by Laurel Buck (Shoreline) — A slim memoir (one of many, so it seems) by a woman who appears to be a storyteller. (Keeping an open mind…)
  11. Under the Holy Lake: A memoir of Eastern Bhutan by Ken Haigh (UofA Press) — Gorgeous-looking book, a possibly  substantial memoir. By its very ‘luck’ at being at the bottom of this list, I may read it next.

Well there you go. If you have any experience with any of these, if you’ve landed here because you’re tied to them in some ways, please pause and comment.

(If you are one of the cover artists at EDGE, please be aware that I can barely draw a stick figure. Your paintings are great, just not suited to book covers.)


Book Discussion Pages

Here on the Book Nook you can discuss: The Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, as well as the next two books in the Deptford Trilogy, The Manticore and World of Wonders, and if that's not enough for you, see what's up on the forums at BookTalk.org!