The Books of November

Listened to:

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 *