August 30th, 2010

patricia wood - lottery

Patricia Wood – Lottery
Series or stand alone: stand alone
Genre: fiction
Copyright: 2007
Pages: 310

Reason for reading: I read about it on bookish, I think.

Cover: yeah, it’s alright. I would probably pick it up in a bookshop out of curiosity.

Synopsis: Perry L. Crandall lives with his Gram in Washington State, USA. He has an IQ of 76, which is one point above what would be considered retarded (the author’s word, not mine). His family want nothing to do with him, thinking he is stupid and not worth their time. But that’s okay with Perry, he has his Gram, he has his friends Keith, Gary and Cherry and he has his job at Holsted’s Marine Supply. Them Gram dies and soon afterwards Perry wins $12 million in the Washington State lottery. Perry is now rich and semi-famous and his family start to creep out of the woodwork, adamant they know what is right for Perry.

First line: My name is Perry L. Crandall and I am not retarded.

Verdict: okay

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Currently reading: Quintin Jardine’s A Rush of Blood.
Kitty: Angry Calico

Valente, Catherynne M.: Palimpsest

Palimpsest (2009)
Written by: Catherynne M. Valente
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 367 (Trade Paperback)

The premise: ganked from (I think): Between life and death, dreaming and waking, at the train stop beyond the end of the world is the city of Palimpsest. To get there is a miracle, a mystery, a gift, and a curse--a voyage permitted only to those who've always believed there's another world than the one that meets the eye. Those fated to make the passage are marked forever by a map of that wondrous city tattooed on their flesh after a single orgasmic night. To this kingdom of ghost trains, lion-priests, living kanji, and cream-filled canals come four travelers: Oleg, a New York locksmith; the beekeeper November; Ludovico, a binder of rare books; and a young Japanese woman named Sei. They've each lost something important--a wife, a lover, a direction in life--and what they will find in Palimpsest is more than they could ever imagine.

My Rating

Keeper Shelf: But this is a misleading rating: I still stress that if you've never read Valente's work before, don't start with Palimpsest. Start instead with The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden, which is still beautiful (and actually, better than Palimpsest), but a little more accessible to readers who are not familiar with Valente's style. Which is lush and gorgeous, don't get me wrong, but it can be overwhelming for readers not familiar with her work (and for readers familiar with her work too, but at least if you've read her work before, you're acclimated then), so in short: start with The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden. Once you've done that and read the second volume, In the Cities of Coin and Spice, you'll really be able to appreciate how those two books influenced the style and structure of Palimpsest, which really pushes the envelope stylistically. Despite the premise, this book is not about sex, nor is it an excuse to write soft-core porn. Instead, it's a story about addiction, about people who are willing to sacrifice anything and everything to get what they want, and it just so happens that sex is the vehicle in which to do so. There is a point to this story, though it takes half the book to realize it will come together (or fall apart) based on one particular plot point, but the ride up until that point is surreal and beautiful, with the kinds of details that are wonderfully imaginative and tantalizing (the Brauria). This is no stereotypical fantasy in any shape, form, or fashion, and readers who want something different would do well to give Valente's work a shot. I still say you should start with a different book than Palimpsest, but once you're ready, Palimpsest is a beautiful book and well-worth the read. It's my pick to win the Hugos.

Review style: Oh, where to begin? I want to talk about structure and patterns, poetry and its place in prose, and of course, where would be we without discussing sensual content? We'll talk about where this book ranks (if it does at all) when it comes to sex in comparisons to romance, erotica, and other types of fiction. Also, since this is the final weekend before the Hugo winner is announced, I want to talk about where this book ranked among the other nominees I've read. You may be surprised by my findings. :) No spoilers, so if you're interested in the full review at my LJ, you're welcome to it. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome.

REVIEW: Catherynne M. Valente's PALIMPSEST

Happy Reading!


Book club selections @ calico_reaction. Hop on over! We'd love to have you!

September: So Long Been Dreaming edited by Nalo Hopkinson
October: Feed by Mira Grant
lyra silvertongue
  • irnan

Lyonesse, by Jack Vance

It ought to be a law of fantasy literature: The Blurb On The Back Is Always Misleading. My Gollancz edition of Jack Vance's Lyonesse has a blurb that talks about the story of Princess Suldrun and her doomed love; it's certainly an integral part of the book, but anyone coming to Lyonesse expecting a tragic, epic, deeply romantic love story is probably going to be disappointed.
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It's the first book of a trilogy, and I can't wait to get my hands on the sequels.

(no subject)

Title: Diana Comet And Other Improbable Stories
Author: Sandra McDonald
Verdict: Worth the cash, as long as it's your kind of book
Publisher’s synopsis:

A writer of whimsy and passion, Sandra McDonald has collected her most evocative short fiction to offer readers in Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories. A beautiful adventuress from the ancient city of New Dalli sets off to reclaim her missing lover. What secrets does she hide beneath her silk skirts? A gay cowboy flees the Great War in search of true love and the elusive undead poet Whit Waltman, but at what cost? A talking statue sends an abused boy spinning through a great metropolis, dodging pirates and search[ing] for a home. On these quests, you will meet macho firefighters, tiny faeries, collapsible musicians, lady devils and vengeful sea witches. These are stories to stir the heart and imagination.

This book is an odd thing – it’s certainly well written, but it’s the kind of well written that appeals only to a certain kind of person. In this case, a magic realism and LGBT kind of person. Sandra McDonald has written tales of a mysterious world, alike and unlike our own, in lyrical prose. At the same time, plot twists come out of the blue, and I wasn’t even sure they were all set in the same world until I got to the final story.

The portrayal of queer characters, however, I could sing praises of up to the sky. A main character throughout the stories is trans, and an assortment of the protagonists are gay. They are all treated as human, not spectacles, which is the most important thing.

As for the stories themselves, they are a rather mixed bag; the quality is generally high, but there are some strange ones, and one that I disliked due to a personal phobia. As for the others – a wooden pirate longs for the taste of the sea! Eternally young nuns sail to rescue anyone who hoists a lace flag! A little girl is caught between two religions that demand too much of her! Etcetera. If you can deal with some extreme strangeness, I recommend it.