Speed read

Read a whole bunch of things.

  • Binged on rereading S.E. Hinton: That Was Then, This Is Now; The Outsiders; Rumble Fish and Taming the Star Runner. I hadn’t touched some of these books for perhaps upward of a decade. It made me realise how much my teenage development of a sense of narrative owed to her. This is a nice article about her.
  • Yiyun Li’s Kinder Than Solitude: I really admire The Vagrants, so I was very excited to sink my teeth into this. I loved it – it was rich and powerful and (mostly) beautifully written – but the frequency (and sententiousness) of Li’s aphorising was sometimes an obstacle to my enjoyment, even though as a reader my tolerance for authorial intrusion is unusually high (I absolutely adore Byatt, and as a teenager I loved Heinlein and Hardy, so go figure).
  • Jo Walton’s My Real Children: I found this a little disappointing. It was fluent enough and offered a characteristically comfortable geek-feminist home, but it was a tad predictable (you could smell the fact and nature of Mark’s infidelity, and also Bee’s accident, a mile off), and also, didn’t I read another version of this novel – written with perhaps a little more emotional immediacy and less purely biographical sequencing – about seven or eight years ago?
  • Lists

    Things I have consumed lately:

  • Kraken, at last. This is the first time I’ve struggled to keep going with a Miéville – which didn’t even happen with the polarising Iron Council – because bits of the first third seem entirely too reliant on the reader finding giant squids as TOTALLY WAY COOL, MAN as the author clearly does. I know baroque and excess is kindof his whole point as a writer, and the charges of padding and affected, gasping grandiosity can be brought to any of his novels, but this has been the only one I’ve read where I felt they sort of stick. That said, it was reliably full of exciting mindfuckery, it all got more interesting as things came to a head (especially with some of the later character development, like with Paul and Marge), and I must confess to enjoying the silly bottle gag (a set-up worthy of Jasper Fforde). I still ♥ him is I guess what I’m trying to say.
  • Blankets by Craig Thompson. A friend lent this to me and I sped through it in an hour and a half. “You read really fast,” she said when I returned it. I hemmed. “I guess it has a lot of pictures?” It was sweet and serious and overwrought in the way that teenhood has to be and I may or may not have teared up.
  • I managed to get through Etiquette‘s A Certain Sort of Hunger despite the beginnings of a horrible head cold. It made me wish I could get out to spoken word shows more often. I especially liked Nabilah Husna’s holey gutted whore and Stephanie Dogfoot’s post-breakup cheapskate ex.

    I’m currently in the midst of rereading That Was Then, This Is Now (discovered in the remnants of my childhood book collection) and will be on a Singapore Writers Festival panel this Sunday. I can’t actually imagine why anyone would pay any part of $20 to hear me witter on, but if for some reason you do, please say hi.