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What I’ve been reading

Yes, I actually have blogging time today! Because I am home sick. It is a bittersweet kind of deal, eh?

Lately I’ve been working full-time, alas, but one of the silver linings of full-time work (apart from cold hard cash) is commuting. But only because commuting grants reading time. Here’s some of what I’ve been reading:

Identity, Milan Kundera: heartbreaking. The story of a couple who go away for the weekend. I know, doesn’t sound heartbreaking. But the gentle exploration of self & other, about isolation in the midst of togetherness, was haunting. So much so that I immediately ordered The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. I’m too scared to read it right now, though. There’s only so much loneliness I can bear in my prose. From here I moved onto:

Carmen Dog, Carol Emshwiller. Is this the perfect, funny, sweet, accepting, feminist book ever written? I think it might be. ‘Difference with equality’ *can* be done, that’s what this book showed me. Randomly, then, I moved from this book to:

The Clocks, Agatha Christie. Christie really is a master of the finely-observed character study. This is a wonderful book, though I admit I find Hercule Poirot oddly overblown compared to the subtle reality of the other characters. I suspect he was always this discordant & I just never noticed it when I was reading my way through all the Christies as a teenager. It was such a satisfying read I took a gamble & picked up a book I bought at City Lights in San Francisco last year:

Beauty Salon, Mario Bellatin. I didn’t love this. Actually, I didn’t even get this. But on the plus side: it’s short. I needed a much more narrative-driven book after this one, so I turned to:

The Straw Men, Michael Marshall. A great romp with a disturbing serial killer and weird, spooky clues on video tapes. Modern, energetic & creepy. Just the way I like ’em. Almost as good as:

Bad Things, Michael Marshall. Now *this* was brilliant. I thought this was an almost-perfect book. The friend I pressed it upon didn’t quite agree & he instead made me read:

Last Man Standing, David Baldacci. Very well-plotted book from the author of Absolute Power. Occasionally a bit obvious, occasionally surprising, & very thick. Not as thick, though, as:

A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin. OK, THIS was thick. I was told in no uncertain terms I had to read it. *Obviously* I was never going to enjoy it. The book’s about 800 pages long & it has a dragon on the cover. The bf asked me once how I was going reading such a thick book & I said, ‘The dwarf-type character has just mentioned that dragons don’t exist anymore. Which, of course, means this book is going to have dragons in it.’ The bf looked at me. “Well, that & the fact it has a DRAGON on the COVER.” Thereafter he would occasionally recite, “It has a DRAGON on the COVER” whenever he caught me reading it.

This is a bloody good book. GRRM is such a master of character and plot and event that I rushed through this book, surrendering entire weekends to it. And then I bought the second one. Which is only 600 pages long, but printed in a font so tiny as to be illegal in some countries.

Next time I’m off sick, I’ll go check the bookshelves & let you know what ELSE I’ve been reading.