My review of the gentle and sweet The Tower, The Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart is in this issue of The Drink Tank. There might also be some thoughts about Elizabeth I and her entry into the Tower.
“The creative life is not linear” – Austin Kleon
2019 by the numbers.
Random thoughts about the madcap year that was 2019 reading. Some events were so glorious as to be unrecognizable as anything I’d ever dreamed could happen to me. Others predictable and necessary (day job). In addition for my own blog, I now write for Hugo award-winning fanzine Drink Tank, and M. Todd Gallowglas’ Geek’s Guide to Literary Criticism.
- In Toni Morrison’s Beloved Paul D’s story about learning to read and being beaten for it just leaves a hole in my heart. He kneels on the ground with a bit in his mouth and notices the rooster named Mister doing whatever he wanted.
“I was something else and that something was less than a chicken sitting in the sun on a tub.”
- I’m not qualified to review Ta-Nehisi Coates’ We Were Eight Years in Power. How does one speak to a tragedy caused by differences in pigmentation?
“Barack Obama [governed] a nation enlightened enough to send an African American to the White House, but not enlightened enough to accept a black man as president.
Trump, more than any other politician, understood the valence of the bloody heirloom [slavery] and the great power of not being a n*****.”
- As Kameron Hurley’s The Geek Feminist Revolution brought me to myself in 2018, so too did Feminisms and Womanisms edited by Althea Prince & Susan Silva-Wayne. The taste of seminal feminist works from Emma Goldman, Simone de Bauvoir, Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem made it easier to understand big parts of my life.
It is truly amazing how long we can go on accepting myths that oppose our own lives, assuming we are the odd exception.” – Gloria Steinem
The need to be noticed and liked, the need to be listened to and accepted, the need for encouragement and praise; all became sources of shameful, rather than normal, neediness in my mind. Especially the need for affection.” – Nancy Graham
Susan Sontag’s essay on women and aging made me want to throw the book across the room in a fit of rage.
The rules of this society are cruel to women.” – Susan Sontag
- Stealing: Life in America by Michelle Cacho-Negrete, sent to me for a review by Adelaide Press. Her essays are powerful as she relates the stories of a life lived right, doing everything she was supposed to do and still needing to steal food to feed her children. Her triumph over that and the particular experiences of being “other” really sang to me.
- Stopwatch Chronicles, M. Todd Gallowglas’ collection of flash fiction bowled me over. He is sharp, witty and fun. His insights are dead on and I love his wordplay. Ditto Bard’s Cloak of Tales.
- The Killing Light, the triumphal conclusion to Myke Cole’s Sacred Throne trilogy. I’ll just quote myself here, “Heloise remains the hero we need for today..”
- How Fiction Works by James Wood . I will forever be grateful for the phrase “flaneurial realism.”
- Literary Theory by Sarah Upstone – this little book packs a lot into it and is one of my go to reference books.
- The Art of Fiction and Moral Fiction by John Gardner
“… in order to achieve mastery [they] must read widely and deeply and must write not just carefully but continually.”
“… the temptation to explain should almost always be resisted.”
“Art, in sworn opposition of chaos, discovers by its process what it can say. That is art’s morality.”
“…art can at times be baffling …”
- Wizardry & Wild Romance by Michael Moorcock. Each reading enriches my understanding of the genre I live and breathe.
- Better Living Through Criticism by A. O. Scott. Scott’s commentary helped give voice to the questions I’d been asking about what criticism is and why it has value. His outstanding thoughts on art and criticism as a conversation resonate deeply. As does his insistence criticism is a way to seek out the excellent as a foodie demands excellence from their favorite chef or restaurant.
“… our understanding of art emerges from our experience of it.”
Writing for Drink Tank led me to works I might never have read. Chris’ unbounded knowledge of books and themes kept me busy.
- Challengers of the Unknown by Ron Goulart led me to one of the cheesiest books I’ve ever read. (Drink Tank #414)
- Before the Golden Age edited by Isaac Asimov, From the Earth to Around the Moon by Jules Verne, and First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells were fodder for thought about Antique Space. (Journey Planet/Drink Tank Crossover)
- Drink Tank #410 gave me a reason to join the Alexander Hamilton party.
Total Books Read: 34
Total Pages Read: 12,456
Total Books Procured: 83
Publication Dates: 19 (1953 – 2019)
Author Count: 28
Written by Women: 8 books (4 authors)
Stealing: Life in America by Michelle Cacho-Negrete
Stopwatch Chronicles by M. Todd Gallowglas
The Killing Light by Myke Cole
Beloved by Toni Morrison (2nd reading)
We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
How Fiction Works by James Wood (2nd reading)
Literary Theory by Sara Upstone
The Art of Fiction by John Gardner
On Moral Fiction by John Gardner
Wizardry and Wild Romance by Michael Moorcock (2nd reading)
Better Living Through Criticism by A.O. Scott
From the Earth to Around the Moon by Jules Verne / First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells / “Jameson’s Satellite” by Neil R. Jones in Before the Golden Age edited by Isaac Asimov (Journey Planet)
Challengers of the Unknown (Drink Tank)
The Killing Light
Euridyce (City Lights Theatre)
Alexander Hamilton (Drink Tank)
Literary Theory: An Introduction
The Sprawl Trilogy
The Handmaid’s Tale
The Mortal Word
Stealing: Life in America
My review comparing Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, H. G. Wells’ The First Men in the Moon, and the short story “The Jameson Satellite” by Neil R. Jones is in this issue of Journey Planet.
My review of Challengers of the Unknown by Ron Goulart is in issue #414 of Drink Tank.
Superheroes! Aliens! Nazis! Brought to you by the color GREEN!
My review of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow and Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth by Stephen F. Knott are in Drink Tank #410.
My 2018 reading wrap up is featured in Drink Tank #409
My byline in The Drink Tank #408 – the John Scalzi issue. What it’s like to form an opinion and then meet the author.
So … this happened. Former co-worker Christopher J. Garcia has won Hugo awards for his fanzines. The most recent issue of The Drink Tank is devoted to my reviews. It makes me excited and humbled, because … well, when one of your friends has won Hugos and wants to work with you … There are other pieces in the works. As they say somewhere, “Watch this space.”