Now with vitamins and minerals.
What I’ve been reading:
The Steep Approach to Garbadale by Iain Banks. I love Iain Banks. But he has to get over his unrequited love thing. And he really has to get over his incest thing, though this iteration is lighter and generally less unpalatable than some earlier ones (eg. A Song of Stone and Walking on Glass), so perhaps it is finally passing out of his novels, like a kidney stone.
The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier. Really enjoyable. Consciousness, cities, cities as consciousness, Antarctic adventure, lyricism, the end of the world, and Borgesian speculation about an afterlife: who could ask for more? Part of it was published in The New Yorker in 2003.
Fledgling by Octavia Butler. Lovers of sexy bad-boy or girl vamps — and you know who you are — will be disappointed by these communal, symbiotic vampires, but this is an interesting addition to the genre in the vein (sorry) of Jewel Gomez‘s The Gilda Stories: both writers use the, er, hoary vampire figure to explore race and otherness. My main complaint is the creepiness of the protagonist, mature in vampire terms but appearing like a prepubescent human girl, having, well, a harem. As in The Meq by Steve Cash, a novel without the redeeming qualities of Butler’s, the characters technically aren’t underaged, but they sure look like it.
The Unquiet by John Connlly. I had never read a hard-boiled ghost story before. I didn’t know there were any. There are. Set in Maine, too.
Predator by Patricia Cornwall. I know, it’s like a painful itch of some embarrassing and slightly disgusting skin condition that I just know I’ll regret scratching, but, it was on sale …
Spook Country by William Gibson. More from the Pattern Recognition gang. More fascinating consumer opportunities for the protagonist to sneer at while still enjoying them. Man, am I snarky today. For the record, I enjoyed it. But then, I also enjoy going to the Mall.
Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino, author of the amazing Out. Apparently descriptions of male underaged prostitution were censored in the U.S. edition. Put up your hand if you are shocked to learn that the theme of female underaged prostitution remains front and centre. Er, that would be center.
Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay (basis of the hilarious tv series). Saw the series first, which probably wasn’t the best way to do it. Note to self: read second novel before the next season starts.
The Remedy by Michelle Lovric. At first I thought that the the romance plot was being brilliantly undercut. I was wrong — the lovers are genuine — but then it got even more unsettling. Here is an extract. A marvelous book, but don’t take my word for it: a boring old man in Wiltshire liked it too.
Looking for Jake by China Miéville (stories, some excellent, but oddly diminished by being collected together)
The Last Days of Newgate by Andrew Pepper. Another implausible slumming upper-class woman throws herself at a hunky but plebian man, à la Anne Perry — Lady Chatterly’s Lover was shocking for a reason , people — but interesting for all that. For one thing, we get out of London for awhile and visit Ireland.
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami (working on a post)
And at the moment, reading Market Forces by Richard Morgan. Kind of The Running Man meets Wall Street via The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift as an extended metaphor for advanced monopoly capitalism. If you can get past the literalization of the corporate hitman — read it as a parable, say — it’s great.
Will blog more about at least some of them, no doubt. You have been warned.