Big Magic — Elizabeth Gilbert
Good on creativity and she reads her own work nicely. Good enough that I started listening to it again just a day or two ago.
* self-help worth your time *
StarDust — Neil Gaiman
YA novel about a magical boy and a shooting star girl. It’s Nice to see a boy as a magical-hero.
* the master *
Pump Six and Other Stories — Paolo Bacigalupi
The short stories that came before The Windup Girl and The Water Knife. Some interesting insights into the world building that went into both novels.
* good short fiction *
Furiously Happy — Jenny Lawson
Either you love The Blogess or you don’t. I think she’s hysterical. I can totally understand why some people don’t.
* only if you can laugh along with the mentally ill *
Palimpsest — Catherynne Valente
The first CV that I ever read. Lush, chewy, satisfying prose. It’s not the easiest story to follow but worth the trouble. And the way that she plays out geography as a sexually transmitted disease is stunning.
* magical realism’s latter-day cousin *
Deathless — Catherynne Valente
Several Russian fairytales and legends mashed together into the story of one girl/woman and her relationship to the Tsar of Life. Taking in the various revolutions and wars of Russia in the first half of the 20th century. It ends on an oddly hopeful note for all of the disaster that befalls the main characters. And it is a really disaster-full book. Much cleaner more streamlined writing than a lot of CV’s more recent work. (Not counting her children’s books.)
* Utterly Russian *
The Antelope Wife — Lousie Erdritch
More about the Native Americans of the Dakotas. This one has a more challenging narrative structure than Love Medicine. Worthwhile read from an author that I will continue to seek out.
* worth the effort to piece together the narrative threads *
The Signature of All Things — Elizabeth Gilbert
Botany is good. Multi-generational epics are good. Strong, if flawed, women are good. Adding them all together is good. The history of a family heritage of plant hunters and loves gone terribly wrong. Serviceable writing.
* if you have the time it’s worth your while *
You Are Badass — Jen Sincero
Yuck, just yuck. Read it based on a trusted friends recommendation — “It’s not like any self-improvement book you’ve ever read.” It’s exactly like every self-improvement book I’ve ever read except with more swearing. The Laws of Attraction are bullshit — even when you dress them up with words like ‘bullshit.’
* why am I even linking to this? *
What Poets are Like: Up and Down with the Writing Life — Gary Soto
Some poetry, some prose, a lot of reflections on a long career.
* light reading for writers *
Speak Easy — Catherynne Valente.
Sadly, I gave up on this one. The story of a 1920’s apartment building and it’s denizens. It’s supposed to be a mash up of the twelve dancing Princesses and the courtship of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The exaggerated jazz-age language was too hard to make it through to the story. And the story didn’t really appear. It’s all party and apartment. I might go back and finish it later. But for the moment I need cleaner prose in my head. I think I am falling out of love with an author crush. But Palimpsest will always be with me.
* thank heaven I didn’t buy the limited edition hardback *