brigdh: (Default)
[personal profile] brigdh
No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal. A literary fiction novel alternating between the viewpoints of Harit, a shy Indian immigrant who is isolated from everyone around him, making do by working in a department store and going home to his mother, who is in such a pit of grief that she hasn't spoken a word in years; Ranjana, a much more successful Indian immigrant, both financially and socially, who nonetheless feels a bit unfulfilled and so has begun to secretly write vampire romances; and Prashant, Ranjana's son who is enjoying his first semester at Yale by chasing after various girls. Minor characters occasionally step in to take over the narration for a chapter or two, such as Teddy, Harit's flamboyantly gay middle-aged co-worker, or Harit's mother, but the main focus is on the three above.

In many ways, this is a very typical novel for its genre: lonely people bumbling through their lives, trying to understand who they are and how to interact with the culture around them. It's improved by its touches of levity and brightness, including an almost unrealistically happy ending, but it's hard not to be pleased to see these characters succeed. I absolutely adore Ranjana's vampire obsession, which feels so bizarre surrounded by the very serious-minded literary quality of the rest of the book. Though I do have to protest that Satyal does not seem to have done his research. He says, Anne Rice had as many orgasms in her books as commas, but come on, Anne Rice almost never writes explicit sex scenes. Clearly it should be Laurell K. Hamilton had as many orgasms in her books as commas, and I know he's heard of Hamilton since he name-dropped her in an earlier scene. We also get an excerpt of Ranjana's novel-in-progress at one point, and it's much more Dracula or even Nosferatu than anything from the modern paranormal romance genre. But I forgive these mistakes because awkward moms writing vampire romance is beautiful and should be in more novels about the Immigrant Experience.

Overall it's not a particularly outstanding or memorable example of what it's doing, but it's just odd enough to be worth reading, and your time will be pleasantly spent.
I read this as an ARC via NetGalley.


Hoodoo Harry by Joe Lansdale. A novella in the long-running Hap & Leonard series, mystery/thriller books about a pair of mismatched best friends (one a white straight ex-hippie, one a black gay conservative) in rural East Texas. In this adventure, Hap and Leonard are driving home from a fishing trip when their truck is rammed by a bookmobile driven by a terrified 12-year-old boy. Unfortunately the kid does not survive the crash, and an investigation turns up signs of torture on his body as well as the fact that he'd been missing for a week. Even stranger, the bookmobile itself had disappeared more than 15 years ago, along with the woman who drove it. From that point the adventure takes off, with an investigation, more bodies, fistfights, secret hidden rooms, and an all-out gun battle.

This is a quick read (only 76 pages) and could easily be enjoyed without knowledge of the rest of the series, though it's dark enough (as you could probably guess, when a young child dies on page one) that I'm not sure many would want to. It's funny, it's exciting, it's tense, it's basically everything Joe Lansdale always does well, just in a smaller package than usual.
I read this as an ARC via NetGalley.


Battles for Freedom: The Use and Abuse of American History by Eric Foner. A collection of essays previously published in The Nation about the connection between American history and contemporary issues. Foner is a well-regarded historian; though I know him best for Gateway to Freedom, his book on the Underground Railroad, he's studied and written on multiple periods and topics.

The oldest in this collection is from 1977, written for the 50th anniversary of the case and execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. Foner describes the ways the men have been used as a symbol and example for multiple agendas, and how most such portrayals ignore the reality of them as individuals. It's still an interesting and useful article today. The most recent is from January of this year, 2017, and recounts Foner's experiences teaching a college course called “The Radical Tradition in America". He's taught it since the 70s, and students have understandably changed over time, from those who were trying to maintain hope during the Reagan 80s, to those energized by Obama's 2008 victory, to the last batch, influenced by Bernie Sanders's campaign. Some of the essays do feel a bit dated, such as the one from 2001 on the Patriot Act. It's still an awful law, don't get me wrong! It's just that nothing Foner says here is likely to be news to the reader.

My favorite essay was the one on Lincoln's changing views on slavery and racial equality ("Our Lincoln", 2009). Foner portrays him as ultimately a centrist, slow to change his opinion but equally capable of correcting past mistakes. It's a nice change from the black-and-white view of history (and modern people) that can sometimes take over our thinking.
I read this as an ARC via NetGalley.


The Golden House by Salman Rushdie. Ah, this book is fantastic! :D I mean, it's Rushdie, who's surprised, but I do think this is by far the book of his I've loved the most.

The Golden family – Nero, the patriarch, and his three adult sons, Petronius (aka Petya), Lucius Apuleius (aka Apu), and Dionysus (aka D) – are newcomers to The Gardens, a small self-contained neighborhood in New York City, like a child's dreamy ideal of pre-hipster Greenwich Village. Their names, by the way, are all fake; the family is fleeing undisclosed trauma in an unnamed country (it's obviously India, but you have to get fairly deep into the book for that to be made explicit). Each adjusts, or doesn't, to their new life in America with varying degrees of success. Petya attempts to move past his severe autism and alcoholism, Apu makes a name as a celebrity artist, and D struggles to figure out his (or her) gender identity. Nero joins the construction industry, blasts his name across buildings, and acquires a Slavic trophy wife, but it's not quite fair to call him a Trump analogue; for one thing, Nero's far too smart and self-aware, not to mention capable of regret. In fact Trump himself is occasionally mentioned in the background, though he's always referred to as 'The Joker':
To step outside that enchanted—and now tragic—cocoon was to discover that America had left reality behind and entered the comic-book universe; D.C., Suchitra said, was under attack by DC. It was the year of the Joker in Gotham and beyond. The Caped Crusader was nowhere to be seen—it was not an age of heroes—but his archrival in the purple frock coat and striped pantaloons was ubiquitous, clearly delighted to have the stage to himself and hogging the limelight with evident delight. He had seen off the Suicide Squad, his feeble competition, but he permitted a few of his inferiors to think of themselves as future members of a Joker administration. The Penguin, the Riddler, Two-Face and Poison Ivy lined up behind the Joker in packed arenas, swaying like doo-wop backing singers while their leader spoke of the unrivaled beauty of white skin and red lips to adoring audiences wearing green fright wigs and chanting in unison, Ha! Ha! Ha!

All of this is narrated by René, a young man also living in the safety of The Gardens, a filmmaker with dreams of making a documentary about the Goldens, or perhaps just a movie starring a fictionalized version of them. René openly admits that he will combine characters or change backstories to fit his idea of how the story should go, which means it's always open to interpretation how much of what he's telling us is the truth.

It's a book that is bursting at the seams with stuff of all sorts: Greek myth, Roman history, Russian folklore, American politics, philosophy and melodrama, an enormous number of characters each of whom gets their own backstory, motivation, and secret thoughts, subplots and sub-subplots, dramatic revelations from the past that reappear unexpectedly, murders and fires, equal allusions Kipling and to mafia movies and the I ching, and even a secret baby. The writing is gorgeous, of course, and there's plenty to make you think, but what I was most surprised about was simply how compelling it was. I never wanted to put this book down, because I was so thrillingly engaged to find out what happened next. Just a really, really amazing book. I already want to reread it.
I read this as an ARC via NetGalley.


Okay, I'm all caught up with my Netgalley reviewing at least. Now I just need to write about the nine other books I've finished...

Boomdeeyadda!

Aug. 23rd, 2017 04:23 pm
yukie: (Default)
[personal profile] yukie
Thirty-six and still goin' strong; 103% FEV1 (that's good - means I'm exhaling as much as I inhale, nothing is getting stuck, and I'm equal-to-and-slightly-better-than average people lungwise) and weight stable.

I FEEL FUCKIN' SMUG.

And grateful.

And accomplished.

And content.

And full of determination, but that goes without saying. :D

Thanks for bein' with me on the ride. ♥

Spinning!

Aug. 23rd, 2017 03:12 pm
telophase: (Default)
[personal profile] telophase
I'm getting better at keeping the width consistent (ish. Very ish.), although not so much at keeping the spin consistent.

cut for large pic )

icons: Movies

Aug. 22nd, 2017 09:17 pm
meganbmoore: (when princesses grow fangs)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
 57 x Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny
42 x Painted Skin: The Resurrection
63 x Memories of the Sword

here )

(no subject)

Aug. 21st, 2017 08:53 am
telophase: (Default)
[personal profile] telophase
So the other night I was reading in bed and, out of the corner of my eye, kept glimpsing a bald man lying down next to Sora...

cut for photographic proof )

The Struggle Is Real

Aug. 20th, 2017 02:37 am
viridian5: (Aya (Gone))
[personal profile] viridian5
Lately I've been working on the DVD commentary for my Aya/Yoji fic "In Two" and writing my SNAFU fic "Heavy," the latest fic in the And Yet, Hayama Hayato Can Still Surprise series. The main difficulty with "Heavy" is figuring out how and when to end it since it's 15,900 words already and seems determined to keep going on.

+++

Summer/money/car/life troubles )

more life miscellany

Aug. 19th, 2017 03:46 pm
glass_icarus: (to hear)
[personal profile] glass_icarus
♣ I downloaded the Daily Yoga app yesterday in yet another bid to get into the habit of daily stretching, and I did actually do some yoga this morning. Also I noticed there's a whole section on yoga poses during menstruation! This seems particularly promising, as my previous attempts at home exercise have been derailed by aches and cramps before. We'll see how this goes!

♣ I started on this sweater a few days ago, which looks nice in theory but is very, very boring to execute. Super tempted to break up the hdc monotony with rows of other stitches, except for the part where I'm not sure it'll actually look good, so I probably won't. If I manage to finish it before winter here is over I will be amazed.

♣ And finally, a few notes on Atomic Blonde, before I forget everything I had to say about it! I had no strong opinions or expectations going in beyond LADY SPY HOORAY!, which it delivers, in a Jane Bond sort of way. The plot twists were a bit hard to follow, not sure if that was the execution or my being fluff-brained while watching. The violence occasionally made me flinch (I really dislike gore) but it was pretty satisfying to watch Charlize Theron take on all comers. vague spoilers ) Also why is the espionage business portrayed as so overwhelmingly male?? Surely this can't be accurate? (Not even gonna touch the lily-whiteness of it; some of the Bond movies did better there.)

icons: Movies

Aug. 17th, 2017 09:02 pm
meganbmoore: (book of life: elena)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
 70 x The Book of Life
58 x Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart


here )

5 things (various)

Aug. 17th, 2017 10:17 am
glass_icarus: (rolly bird)
[personal profile] glass_icarus
From [personal profile] magnetic_pole, since I'm failing at posting anything else.

5 things you’ll find in my bag: lip balm, headphones, pencil case, glasses, ballet shoes

5 things you’ll find in my bedroom: photos from friends, whiteboard, A:TLA DVDs, yarn bag, way fewer books than expected (our bookcase is in our living room & I left my SF/F collection in the US)

5 things I’ve always wanted to do: visit more places on my travel wishlist (Brazil, Greece, Istanbul, Prague, New Zealand...), try scuba diving, develop a yoga/pilates habit (unsuccessful so far), get a dog (someday when I have more time/$?), create my dream home library

5 things that make me happy: ♥ tea ♥, delicious food, music, guilt-free free time, THIS NEWS FROM NK JEMISIN!!!!!

5 things I’m currently into: zouk, choreographing with S, Agatha Christie film adaptations (I'm on a huge Miss Marple and Poirot kick), Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge, Otayuri (recs appreciated!)

5 things on my to-do list: finish exam prep, batch cook, clean house, schedule a massage, contact subletter

Meliora - Transmogrified

Aug. 17th, 2017 04:15 pm
carisma_sensei: (Papa Emeritus III)
[personal profile] carisma_sensei posting in [community profile] dreamwidthlayouts
Title: Meliora
Credit to: [community profile] inconformista
Base style: Transmogrified
Type: full layout in CSS
Best resolution: 1024x768 or above
Tested in: Firefox, Google Chrome, IE



Click the thumbnail to preview the layout
Layout is here @ [community profile] inconformista

(no subject)

Aug. 15th, 2017 10:46 pm
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
No FMK this week, because I am way behind on reading, and also because I am going eclipse-hunting over the weekend! I will be bringing eclipse-related books on that trip. And thinking about this xkcd strip which was the main thing that got me into the new year, anyway.

Probably it will rain all day, but at least I can say I tried.

So instead of books, since I will be doing a lot of driving in the middle of nowhere, my question this week is: What songs are on your eclipse playlist? "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "The Sun Is A Miasma of Incandescent Plasma", obviously. But what else?

I have been working on the book collection, though! I went through and re-did my to-read lists, of which there are three: one on the library website, which has 300 books on it, of books the library has; the Goodreads one, which includes only books my library doesn't have and has about 250; and ~2500 owned-but-unread, so that's totally doable at my current rate as long as I never add any more to any of the three lists.

(Anybody want to be goodreads friends, by the way? if we aren't already, drop me a line. my gr is connected to my rl so I don't link it here but I will def. add people.)

Me and Mom also cleaned out the cookbooks over the weekend, which was fun! We both agreed on keeping the ones that had some kind of sentimental value to the family, of course. food, cooking, and diet as expressed in a collection of second-half-of-twentieth-century cookbooks. )

We got rid of about fifty cookery books. There's only about 200 left. That't TOTALLY reasonable for a family of two that cooks an actual meal at most twice a week, and usually from recipes we know by heart, right?

what i'm watching in August

Aug. 15th, 2017 09:10 pm
meganbmoore: (Default)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
here )

I've barely had tie to more than speed skim any social media the last few weeks. Too tired from work to give it or reading the time and energy I used to. Hopefully that changes soon.

hrm

Aug. 14th, 2017 09:52 am
telophase: (Default)
[personal profile] telophase
Had a dream last night that was most likely triggered by watching Game of Thrones after painting scars onto a photograph of a model for a book cover--a dragon had, in the recent past, put its mouth down right on top of me and bit me, then picked me up (with my head and shoulders in its mouth) and shaken me around a bit before dropping me. So I had wounds, turning to scars, on my torso and back.

Was that was the focus of the dream was? NO. I was back at some sort of school, although I was adult or young adult, and the headmistress refused to believe my story, and I spent the time attempting to convince her.

Why are brains?

Commonly Confused Words: brake/break

Aug. 14th, 2017 07:02 am
green_grrl: (SG1_JDWhat)
[personal profile] green_grrl posting in [community profile] fandom_grammar
Welcome, grammar fans, to another installment of Commonly Confused Words. Today we are looking at brake and break. These two words not only sound exactly alike, they are both also used as a noun or a verb, and can even overlap somewhat in meaning. So, how do you know which to use when? Let's take a look, with a little help from our friends from Hawaii Five-0. )

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