theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

I was told the other day how true polyamory didn’t have rules. You just got to fuck whoever you wanted, and nobody could stop you or it wasn’t polyamory.

Okay.

Let’s break that down.

Because people forget rules weren’t inflicted on people wholesale by malicious bureaucrats. Rules are like pearls, which are beautiful to us but an irritant to an oyster. Oysters create pearls because they can’t get a piece of sand out of their tendermeats and layer it in nacre until they have a ball of Stuff stuck in their craw. That’s not great for the oyster, but it’s better than having sand ripping up their insides.

And like a pearl, every rule started with some Problem that was causing distress, and people decided to wrap a Rule around it – because as annoying as that Rule was, it was better than the initial Problem.

Now rules, as I’ve noted, are the failure state of polyamory. You’d be better served by utilizing expectations, which aren’t quite as brittle and lead to better understanding. But rules and expectations both are solutions to the same ultimate problem:

You’re hurting someone you love.

They feel abandoned when you don’t text them at the end of the night. They feel threatened when you cancel dates on them to go out with New Person. They feel exasperated when they’re spending their dates with you as a pseudo-relationship counsellor, picking apart the reasons you’re fighting with your other partner all the time.

But hey. You have no limits. So even if your partner’s cat just died and they’re desperate to not be alone tonight, fuck that! You had a date. And you’re not cancelling that because NO LIMITS!

What’s that?

That’d be cruel? You wouldn’t leave your partner alone during a time of need?

Well, I guess you have limits.

“That’s different!” you cry. “That’s what I wanted to do! I chose to do that of my own volition, not because of some stupid rules!”

Here’s the secret to rules, my friend:

Everyone chooses them.

There’s no legal contract for any poly relationship saying, “I have to stay with this person.” There may be consequences, divorce laws being punitive and all, but there’s consequences for any bad decision. You treat them badly enough that they refuse to talk to you, you don’t get the hot sex or the emotional support. If you’re really a shithead, you may lose friends over the breakup. There is no consequence-free decision.

As such, people may bitch about rules, but ultimately they chose to stay with the person who enacted them. Why? Because the irritant of the rules is better than losing that person entirely – or better than the less-critical problem of “I love them, so I don’t want to make them feel bad.”

You’re not better because you made a decision on the fly to alter your behavior to be with someone. That’s how relationships work. You negotiate, you compromise, you figure out where your elbow hits someone’s eye.

And in a lot of cases, you don’t do something that would bring you magnificent satisfaction because you know it would hurt someone. Unsafe sex. Taking someone else to the concert you promised you’d take them to. Disappearing for a two-week vacation with a new sweetie without letting them know where you’re going.

All those are limits.

“They’re self-imposed limits!” you cry – but now you’re changing the argument. Because polyamory was supposed to have no limits, man. Total and utter William Wallace-style FREEEEEEDOM!

…except that compassionate human beings, when given the choice to do whatever they want, will often choose not to do things that injure the people they love.

True freedom involves the ability to self-limit.

And so “Polyamory has no limits” often is a synonym for “I am a sociopath who is only out for my own satisfaction, and anyone who inconveniences me in any way will be shunted aside. I don’t give a fuck about you as long as I get mine.” It’s not so much an ethos as a warning sign that this person is not someone you want to date unless your Venn diagram of what you desire overlaps theirs perfectly.

And yes. It’s perfectly logical to stop dating someone whose feelings are so sensitive you can’t avoid bruising them; I’ve done it myself. But that’s not “I have no limits” so much as “Our limits were irreconcilable.” There’s nothing wrong with a hedonistic relationship based on pleasure, either, so long as everyone involved chose it honestly. It’s possible to have a relationship with such low limits that you never brush against them.

But I generally find that the people who bristle at any idea of limitations are the people who bristle at the idea of other people having needs. They want no limitations because really, anything that obstructs their satisfaction is an enemy to be destroyed.

Date these people at your peril.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

QotD

Jun. 23rd, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"We stand on the shoulders of giants who bothered to login to StackOverflow and explain their problem in words easily indexed by Google." -- SwiftOnSecurity, 2017-06-01

[But also, of course, to the ones who came before StackOverflow, such as Alan Turing (b. 1912-06-23, d. 1954-06-07)]

elf: Musical notation from the Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz, with quote "Like a dirigible" (Dirigible)
[personal profile] elf
For this one, I also have a swarm to choose from. Probably not as many as color-songs, though; I like lots of songs with numbers in the chorus but not in the titles. I think I'm going to bypass the entire Schoolhouse Rock set (I like all of them, but especially Zero My Hero, Figure Eight, and Little Twelvetoes) and try to stick to "mainstream" songs, or at least, songs intended to be standalones rather than part of something else. (Mainstream's in quotes because I have some filk here; if you don't know what they are, they'd be hard to track down.)

Christmas at Ground Zero | One Tin Soldier | Two of Us | Threes | Wind's Four Quarters | Five Years | Six Days on the Road | Seven Year Ache | 867-5309 | 9 to 5 | At Seventeen | 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover | '65 Love Affair | 88 Lines about 44 Women | 99 Luftballons ...

Wow, there's a lot of mopey in that list. I should pick something that's a bit more perky.
One bouncy cheerful number song, coming up. )
annathepiper: (Good Book)
[personal profile] annathepiper

Noting this as I actually bought a couple of print books from Third Place the other day–things that fall into the general category of Authors Who Are Absolutely Vital For Me to Have In Print. The people for whom a lack of access to their books would make me sad, whether due to power outage or loss of reading devices or what have you.

The first of these purchases was In the Labyrinth of Drakes, Book Four in Marie Brennan’s excellent Memoirs of Lady Trent series. I’ve actually already read this and I did indeed love it immensely, but I definitely wanted the Lady Trents in print. And this one finally was available in trade now that the hardcover of Book Five is out.

Beren and Luthien

Beren and Luthi

Much more importantly, I acquired a hardback copy of the new Tolkien release, Beren and Luthien!

Y’all know my love of Tolkien, and you’ll probably also remember that I’m particularly fond of the tale of Beren and Luthien, which is hands down my favorite thing in the whole of The Silmarillion.

Relatedly, when Christopher Tolkien released the excellent Children of Hurin version of the other big tale from The Silmarillion–the tale of Turin Turambar–I nabbed that in hardback. I’ve said before how I had to have that in hardback just for the gorgeous illustrations, and out of general appreciation of the beauty of the work that went into putting that book together as an object.

So given all of these things together, you better believe I had to jump on the Beren and Luthien release.

Fair warning though to fellow Tolkien fans who may be covetously eying this release too: it is not cheap. (I got the hardback for $30.00, and while I could have gotten it for substantially cheaper at Barnes and Noble, I made a point of buying it from Third Place instead because local-to-my-house indie bookstores are love.) If you want that hardback and you’re more budget-pinched than I am, be aware you’ll get it for much cheaper on Amazon or with B&N, both of whom are showing prices for it around $18.

Likewise, the ebook is stupidly expensive right now. It’s clocking in at $16.99, and that price is the main reason I haven’t already nabbed this release as well in digital form. Do not mistake me: I will also be buying this book in digital form, because a) Tolkien pretty much would top the list of authors I require in both formats, and b) under no circumstances am I taking the hardback out of the house. But that price annoys me, as it’s yet another indicator of the return of agency pricing, and I have an ongoing gripe with the publishing industry seeming bound and determined to piss off digital readers by making ebooks as expensive as possible.

I’m genuinely torn, though, as to whether Tolkien is worth it to me to shell out for the ebook at that price anyway; if any author merits doing that out of all my favorites, it’s Tolkien.

Either way, the ebook edition will eventually be joining my collection too. And that’ll likely be the way I read it, just because I do most of my reading on commutes.

For now, that’s two additional book purchases to add to the tally this year, which has been quite small. (I’m actually trying to make an effort to put a dent in the backlog of books I actually own, doncha know.) 17 for the year.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

(no subject)

Jun. 22nd, 2017 09:40 am
telophase: (Default)
[personal profile] telophase
Well, I work about two miles away from this zoo, so I could go and be disdained by this giraffe calf in person.

Theoretically. The air is about the temperature of boiling right now and the idea of actually setting foot on zoo grounds is not that tempting, really, even with the possibility of being personally disdained.

QotD

Jun. 22nd, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"[...]
 For want of me the world's course will not fail;
 When all its work is done, the lie shall rot;
 The truth is great and shall prevail,
 When none cares whether it prevail or not."

  -- Coventry Patmore (b. 1823-07-23, d. 1896-11-26), "Magna est Veritas", The Unknown Eros, 1877 [spotted in a tweet by @aristofontes]

elf: Petalwing, singing (Petalwing Singing)
[personal profile] elf
Really? Just one? I have a whole rainbow of songs I like with colors in the title: Crimson and Clover | Orange Crush | Big Yellow Taxi | Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine | Crystal Blue Persuasion | Purple People Eater | Lavender's Blue ...and then we get to colors not in the official rainbow set... Bad Bad Leroy Brown | Whiter Shade of Pale | Touch of Grey | Black Hole Sun | Pink Shoe Laces | Sister Golden Hair | Maxwell's Silver Hammer...

Gah. Have to pick just one.

I'm going with pirates. )

30 Day Song Meme

Jun. 21st, 2017 11:29 pm
elf: Musical notation from the Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz, with quote "Like a dirigible" (Dirigible)
[personal profile] elf
Stealing this from [personal profile] kshandra. I decided I should blog more, and telling myself to blog more about Important And Interesting Things isn't working, so I should try one of those "blog every day" things. (I've never done well at them.) This time, I picked something easy and fun instead of something that requires Deep Thought that I usually don't have by the end of my workday.

So: 30 days of songs, which are likely to be YouTube embeds (but maybe not, because I have a great love for a lot of filk that's never made it to YouTube); some are likely to get a lot of commentary, and others are likely to be "here it is, end of the day... um, have a music thing."

SUMMER SOLSTICE JAM PARTY BEGINS NOW.

List of Songs to Post Later )

"In over my head"

Jun. 22nd, 2017 12:15 am
rosefox: Steven's three guardians all ruffle his hair together as he grins (parenting)
[personal profile] rosefox
Dear fellow caregivers for toddlers: I would love advice on two distinct things.

1) What makes a good potty? The number of variations is overwhelming. We want something pretty simple, I think: looks like a toilet, no branded characters, doesn't play music, sits on the floor, is basically a bucket with a seat. In the more distant future we'll need one that folds up or goes over the toilet seat or something, for when we're on the road, but right now this is just for Kit to examine and contemplate and get used to the idea of.

2) Like most 18-month-olds, Kit is full of energy. Unlike most 18-month-olds, Kit can barely walk unassisted and can't run or jump. They've only just started climbing around on the most low-level playground equipment and are very uncertain; they can get up five steps to the top of the baby slide but haven't yet sorted out how to slide down it. When they can't burn off all that energy, they get very agitated and fussy. How do we help them get something like vigorous exercise on the weekends? So far my only idea is to take their walker wagon to the park so they can toddle along at a fairly fast clip for longer distances than our apartment allows—there's a good smoothly paved straightaway there—but that's a pain because the sidewalk between here and there is very uneven and narrow, so I'd have to figure out some way to carry the (heavy, bulky, non-folding) wagon while pushing Kit in the stroller, and that may surpass my own physical limitations. Maybe a lightweight folding medical-style walker? Is that a ridiculous expense for a kid who probably won't need it anymore by the end of the summer? And what do we do when it's not park weather? The nearest real play space for kids is the Brooklyn Children's Museum and it's kind of a haul from here—two buses, and you have to fold the stroller on the bus. They can only crawl around our apartment for so long.

EDIT: We did have a great dance party to the B-52s on Sunday—their pure sincerity is a perfect match for toddler sincerity, plus a good beat—so I should remember that's an option for indoor days. Friends on Twitter and elsewhere also suggested walking while holding Kit's hands/arms; playing follow-the-leader movement games ("Stretch WAAAAAY up high! Now bend WAAAAAY down low!") or doing movement to songs; setting up a tumbling mat and big foam blocks to climb on if we can get some that fit Kit's room (need to measure the open floor space); getting a cheap flimsy lightweight doll stroller to use as a walker in the park.

I'd really appreciate any suggestions on either or both fronts!

QotD

Jun. 21st, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"'Come with me,' Mom says.
 To the library.
 Books and summertime
 go together."

  -- Lisa Schroeder, I Heart You, You Haunt Me (2008)

[A happy summer solstice to all who mark it! (Exact time was about five hours ago.)]

arg dammit

Jun. 20th, 2017 01:01 pm
telophase: (Default)
[personal profile] telophase
just learned, after nuking my frozen tv-dinner-type lunch but before eating it, that pineapple has the same effect as grapefruit on antibiotics, especially those in the family that the I'm taking is in. Cooking may denature the enzyme that has the effect, but I can't get a specific answer as to whether or not 3 minutes of nuking (and whatever prep it might have had before) would destroy it.

Given that I'm allergic to a cousin of this AB* and that the bad effect is that it slows the elimination of it from the body, it's very much not worth risking it, especially as the last bad AB reaction I had kept me out of work for a very unhappy week. Dammit, it smells so good, too.


* both doc and pharmacist are well aware, and I have been given strict instructions to keep an eye on certain symptoms and phone immediately if they show up.

eta: and of course the library cafe isn't carrying the usual salads and sushi since it's summer. so i have a thing of instant oatmeal for lunch. I also brought cheese sticks, so it's not all I'm having, and we start our conversational Italian class tonight through campus' extended ed program, so we'll be eating dinner early. It's just Not Satisfying when I had my heart set on black bean chicken with pineapple sauce. Bah.
theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

Hey guys, I’ve got a quick-turnaround website to protest the AHCA – but while I’ve written the words and done the research, my web design looks like 2003 hot garbage.

If someone out there can commit to a professional, bare-bones web design to help me get out a three-page website this week, please email me at theferrett@gmail.com stat, along with a page or two that you’ve designed so I can verify you’re better than I am.  (It’s not hard, trust me.) And I’ll happily share details if you’re a professional who knows design and/or political protest and wanna email me at theferrett@gmail.com, because, well, it’s a last-ditch shot in the dark against the AHCA before it passes next week.

If you’re feeling volunteery, please email.  Thanks.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

QotD

Jun. 20th, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"This is not a monarchy." -- House Government Reform Chairman Dan Burton, a Republican from Indiana, after President Bush invoked executive privilege to deny Congress access to prosecutorial documents, which have routinely been turned over to Congress by past administrations. [ USA Today] (via outragedmoderates.org)

annathepiper: (Great Amurkian Novel 2)
[personal profile] annathepiper

As I’ve been lamenting a bit on social media lately, this year has, creatively speaking, blown so many donkeys that I’m pretty sure there isn’t a single unsatisfied donkey between here and Spokane.

But Dara having been working so hard on her Overwatch fic as of late (a fic which, by the way, you should read, because it’s totally awesome and you can find it here) has been a prod to my own ability to write, I think. So I’ve been lately instituting my strategy of “ridiculously stupidly low daily word counts”, just for the sake of being able to say I’ve written something.

I’ve also returned to dealing with my still-due novellas for the Warder universe, in no small part because I’ve realized that I really need to write Caitlin Hallett and Gabien Desroches’ meeting before I can really have them appear properly in Warder Soul.

So I’m back in dealing with their story. And hey, here’s an excerpt! Caitlin’s coming out of a very spiky conversation with her father Thomas, a conversation which has not gone well. Caitlin’s looking to console herself by busking on George Street.

Except she’s got a surprise waiting for her. Muahaha.

Excerpt behind the fold!

Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

Huh (or, why I do reiki)

Jun. 19th, 2017 09:45 pm
ysobel: (Default)
[personal profile] ysobel
So I don't know if I mentioned it here at all, but I've been getting Reiki treatments for the past six months or so. Reiki, at least as far as I understand it, which isn't very far, involves energy manipulation, and s sort of like a massage only with gentle touch and rubbing your energy rather than your muscles.

(No, rubbing energy is not intended as a euphemism, shush.)

There is a part of me that thinks, stubbornly, cynically, that it's Woo. Kind of like the book my maternal grandmother sent me, when I was first diagnosed with FOP, about using visualization to do everything from curing cancer to getting your dream job/home/whatever, as long as you visualize hard enough and so it every day. Or like the "pray to Jesus and He will cure everything" thing that Christians do, based on the "if you have enough faith you can move mountains" scripture. Both of which are extremely victim-blaming: if you don't get magically better, you just didn't try hard enough.

But. Reiki ... well, it's not a magic cure-all, but it also wasn't presented to me as one; there are local people who use it for cancer patients but less in a "this will magically disappear your tumor" and more in a "this will help you get through the effects of chemo/radiation" way; and I fully believe there are things that science doesn't really know about yet, and "science can't explain this" is not a *validation* of alternative techniques but it isn't a contradiction either -- but regardless.

Even if it is pure woo, which I don't think it is? The touch aspect is huge for me. Most of the touch I get is functional, like my aides wiping my butt after I poop, but it's not really the level of touch that I crave; a lot of the remainder is my mom touching me, which is as awkward and fraught with complications as it is helpful. I can't cuddle. I can't hold hands. I can't lean against someone. I am massively touch-deprived, massively isolated because of both the wheelchair and the position I'm fixed in, and *even if Reiki is entirely woo it is a way I get meaningful touch*, and that is hugely significant.

It's also really interesting ... I know that priopreception is a thing and that we are aware of our own bodies, but usually my perception of my body is very dissociated and very blobby, kind of this:

Read more... )

Somehow, especially with the person I've done most of my sessions with, reiki gives me back a sense of my body. It's related to the touch thing, I'm sure, but -- a few months back she was doing stuff with my lower legs and feet, and I was connected with them as leg- and feet-shaped objects; even though my feet are blobs, IRL as well as in my self perception, for that while they felt like normal feet-shaped feet.

And mostly I don't want a sense of my body, because all my body brings me is pain and/or immobility, but it's nice just feeling like I get plugged back in. Like I'm actually a person and not a blob.

And that's a significant thing too.

only halfway through the month

Jun. 19th, 2017 03:24 pm
solarbird: (tracer)
[personal profile] solarbird
Finally put up the pride flag, only halfway through the month XD

solarbird: (tracer)
[personal profile] solarbird

Remember that novella I’ve been writing, On Overcoming the Fear of Spiders? It’s finished. 32 chapters, a bit under 35,000 words (there is a canon digression linked at the appropriate time, but not contained within the primary volume, that boosts the word count), and I’m rather pleased to hear from a couple of readers who do not know anything about the Overwatch world that it makes sense even to them. They know there are emotional beats they’re missing, but it still works as a story.

I wasn’t specifically trying to do that, but I’m really quite pleased that it happened.

If you don’t know the lore at all, but are interested, here’s the original animated short introducing the world of the game, and here is the animated short “Alive” that featured Widowmaker. You’ll see the latter story in short form in Chapter 10, but in the cinematic, the chemistry between Amélie and Lena is absolutely smokin’, which spawned a lot of ships.

(If you really find yourself getting into the lore, here’s the official site, including the comic that confirmed Tracer – the literal face of the game, she’s on the cover of the box – is a lesbian.)

Also, you should know that in canon, in-universe, we ‘know’ that Amélie Lacroix was kidnapped by Talon and recovered apparently well but in actuality neurally reconditioned to assassinate her husband, the head of anti-Talon operations at Overwatch. After that, she went on to become a supposedly-emotionless assassin who feels only satisfaction at the success of her kills.

We are also given a lot of clues in both lore and game that this is at least in some parts a pile of lies, and that we are supposed to figure that out.

Anyway, this has been an experience like few others for me – it is literally more fiction than I’ve written, combined, before, in my life, and I actually tried writing fiction for real in college. I even got published once, in a little Ontario small-press magazine for a token $20 payment. But it was always like pulling teeth, whereas this was more like just trying to stay afloat on top of the tsunami as it carried me forward. I’ve had that feeling for individual songs before, but never for fiction.

I really liked it. I hope it happens again.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

Books read, early June

Jun. 19th, 2017 11:30 am
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Miracles. Gods are apparently like ants in a California apartment complex in this Bennett trilogy: you think you’ve killed them all and there’s always one or two coming back again, so put your miracles in sealed containers. This is definitely a third book of a trilogy, not a stand-alone; I do not at all recommend starting here, but it does end things nicely. (The first book is City of Stairs – ed)

C.J. Cherryh, Convergence. This, on the other hand, is a sawed-off chunk of an ongoing thing. I wrote to another friend who has also read all twenty books of this series with a character’s name in all caps followed by “???” after reading this book. There is plot again, it is not like the trilogy within this series that was essentially focused on Bren getting his apartment back and furnishing it. Is it better for that? I’m not sure. I’m still reading as of book twenty, which tells you something, but for the love of Pete, do not do not DO NOT start here, it will be confusing and boring and generally awful, which it is not when you have read the other nineteen. On the other hand: will you want to read nineteen of these to get to this? I don’t know. It is very much science fiction about alien interactions, and it is very psychologically medieval in ways that I appreciate, and there are moments (like the name in all caps with the ???) where I feel like this is a very long game she has been planning in intricate detail all along and other moments where I am fairly sure it is the equivalent of going out for a morning nature walk with Auntie Carolyn and having her point out which tiny flowers and mushrooms grow under that big leaf and which ones are poisonous (most of them). On the other other hand, I do like nature walks.

Kathryn Evans, More of Me. Discussed elsewhere.

John M. Ford, The Scholars of Night. Reread. I picked this up for my Cold War Fantasy panel, and it is made of love for Christopher Marlowe and Anthony Price and intricacy. It is exactly what this panel is all about, but I reread it not that long ago; I just wanted the excuse.

Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones. Reread. This is the last of my old Natalie Goldberg books, and honestly it is the one to get if you’re getting a Natalie Goldberg book for a new writer. It is straightforward and cheerful and does not self-aggrandize particularly; it quotes her teachers without acting like they hung the moon, it has ideas for what to do but sort of shrugs through them like, yep, try these and if they don’t work try something else, just try stuff. I am no longer at a point where I think it’s a good use of shelf space for me to keep this book, so I will set it free for some newer writer to enjoy, but it did not make me snippy with Batman the way the others did. (…if you didn’t read that blog post, maybe we should just draw a veil over it.)

Paul Gruchow, Letters to a Young Madman: A Memoir. Gruchow is a Minnesota nature writer and observer of the land, farming, people…he overlaps with my interests enough that I have been reading his books in an essentially random order from the library, and then I came to this one and it blindsided me. Because the present tense in that first sentence is inaccurate. Paul Gruchow. Oh God. Paul Gruchow did not survive his last bout with depression more than a decade ago. I had been darting merrily through feeling so much kinship with this man, and he was gone the whole time I was reading him, painfully and horribly gone, and he suffered so much before he went, and this is the memoir of how. I recommend it under only two circumstances: 1) If you have not read a memoir of depression and mental health treatment and hospitalization in this country. This is a keenly observed and fiercely intelligent example of its genre. It is not heartening. It is not uplifting. It is not the work of a person who managed to find his way out, to see brighter days ahead, to kick at the darkness, as the man said, until it bled daylight. The man I was starting to think of metaphorically as “cousin Paul,” struggled and fought with himself and hurt himself and his family and was hurt by himself and the world, and then he died. This is that book. If you are not yourself depressed and/or have not otherwise experienced the mental health system up close and have not read anyone’s detailed modern account of it, I think you should read at least one, and you could do far worse than letting it be Paul Gruchow’s. You also owe it to yourself to choose very carefully when you subject yourself to it. It does not have to be today, tomorrow, next week. You can look with deliberation when you must look. 2) If you have read such a book before but have come to love the other works of Paul Gruchow, you can choose to look again even if you know the facts and figures of modern mental health care. That would be me. You can see how some of his other stories are changed, cast in different lights, by these stories. By the stories of his illness. You may decide that you don’t want that of a writer whose work you love. And you may decide that you owe it to a writer whose work you love to have his whole work, not to look away. If it was me, I would want some of my readers to look away, to only have the brilliant and lovely things I said about frogs and rocks and farming. And I would want some of my readers not to look away, to read all my work, even the hardest and darkest. It is not me. But we come from the same places and the same people. It could have been. I am glad I didn’t look away. It has been a very long time since I cried so hard over a book as I did over the opening and closing pages of this book, and also many, many times over the middle, and it was not a very long book. Proceed with caution if at all.

Marvin Kaye, ed. The Fair Folk. Reread. Vividly told tales, most of which did not hit me particularly personally. The opening story from Tanith Lee is a really great example of a story that feels like it is going to be a wonderful story for someone else, a story that will go right to someone else’s heart and stay there. I think it’s easier to recognize those with experience.

Donald Keene, ed., Anthology of Japanese Literature from the Earliest Era to the Mid-Nineteenth Century. Reread. This is something I purchased for a college class and kept. It is not the very last word in Japanese lit, but with twenty years’ experience it turns out to still be a quite decent first word and well worth keeping; there were things I was happy to quote and discuss with friends. I haven’t done a survey of survey anthologies, so I don’t know if this would be the one I would recommend above all others, but as the one I already have on my shelf, it had many things worth reading in it and I am glad to keep giving it space, which is a quite nice feeling. There were several place where I rolled my eyes at Donald Keene himself and his notes–his handling of notes on periods where there were predominantly women authors were not, shall we say, deft and sensitive–but most of the material was the material and could just be enjoyed for that. Good mix of poems, stories, diary excerpts, novel excerpts, play treatments.

Naomi Mitchison, Sea-Green Ribbons. This is a strangely spare novel of a young woman printer during Cromwell’s time. I enjoyed it except for the ending, which I found unsatisfying in its handling of Quakers and slavery, and I spent much of the experience cocking my head and squinting sideways at it and thinking of Gillian Bradshaw’s London in Chains and A Corruptible Crown. They are really, really, really, really similar. Young woman printer, era of Cromwell, sexual trauma, various details…I don’t think that one is cribbed from the other, their style is quite, quite different, and their endings are, and there is something like four times as much of the Bradshaw. It was just very strange. I want more novels of the Interregnum, but it’s okay if the others are not specifically about young women printers with sexual trauma, variety being the spice etc.

Toni Morrison, Jazz. Lots of people failing to make their relationships work, but the language is rich and improvisationally jazzy, very successfully evocative of the ’20s urban setting and newly urbanized Black American culture of the Great Diaspora. If someone other than Toni Morrison had been writing this, the petty, angry despair of the major characters might well have put me off, but Morrison’s writing is so beautiful it was worthwhile for me.

Jim Northrup, Marcie R. Rendon, Linda LeGarde Grover, and Denise Sweet, Nitaawichige: Selected Poetry and Prose by Four Anishinaabe Writers. Highly varied voices and forms, but the traditions they’re drawing on are very recognizably Anishinaabe in their own ways. A very short chapbook, definitely worth the time if you can find it. Hilarity and anger and pathos and beauty all represented here.

Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight and The Shepherd’s Crown. Rereads. After long hiatus, I have finished the Tiffany Aching series. Last first: The Shepherd’s Crown is Pratchett’s last book, and you can see that he was not quite done with it, that it is the bones of the book he meant to write rather than the full book, with its gestures toward third-wave feminism and a love letter to the geezerhood the author himself would never achieve. It has some great things to nod at. It makes me wistful. As for I Shall Wear Midnight…I find myself ambivalent about books with the “they persecute us for our virtues because they are stinky jerks” plots right now, and this is one. And yet it is a pretty good one, and sometimes “they” do. And the virtue in particular in this one is being willing to step up and help where help is needed, and I want more of that in fiction and in life.

Frederick Taylor, The Downfall of Money: Germany’s Hyperinflation and the Destruction of the Middle Class. This sounds a bit dry but is very, very human–it’s very much about how the German people experienced the interwar hyperinflationary period, what played into it and what it created. Interesting and a much quicker read than one might expect.

Catherynne M. Valente, Deathless. Reread. This is far and away my favorite Valente novel for adults. I picked it up because I misremembered the time frame–I had thought, for some reason, that the ending was long after it was, deep in the Stalinist period, instead of 1942–and so I thought it might be of interest to my Cold War Fantasy panel at 4th St. Well, this is why we do panel prep, and of course 1942 is the exact right year to end this book. It is so vivid, so food-oriented and so full of myth and relationship and history. It is not for my panel. I still don’t regret the reread.

Martha Wells, All Systems Red. Murderbot! I was one of the last on the Murderbot train, but I do like Murderbot. All Murderbot wants is to be let by to figure things out and watch videos, is this too much to ask? Apparently so because humans, ugh. We are with you, Murderbot! We are with you through the rest of your adventures among humans, ugh, and whoever else you may encounter. Intimate voice far future SF, hurrah, more please.

More of Me, by Kathryn Evans

Jun. 19th, 2017 11:25 am
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[personal profile] mrissa

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

Review copy provided by Amulet Books.

Some spoilers are our friends, although I will not visit them upon you unsought. This is the first time I remember in ages flipping to the last few pages of a book to make sure that a particular concept was not how a book ended, because if it was, I did not want to be there for that experience. It wasn’t. I kept reading. In fact, I turned the pages compulsively.

The science fiction concept of this YA novel makes a better special effect than actual science: the cells of an entire person reproducing themselves and pulling apart fully formed, so that an entirely new version can step out and also leave the old version intact. Teva has been doing this annually, so that there is herself, age 16, but also her previous selves, known by their ages: Fifteen, Fourteen, and so on. Her mother, for reasons later made clear, has decided that it isn’t safe for this to be known, so once the split happens, the earlier version has to stay in the house all the time, and no one else is allowed in.

This is not, as you might well imagine, a long-term tenable situation.

I will not want to reread this book, because it is emotionally well-done. The claustrophobia of the well-meant captives, the panicked family turned in on themselves, the girl(s) taught to distrust the school friends and teachers who are part of her/their daily life…and inevitably led to doubt her/their own sanity. It was all incredibly evocative. There were times when I writhed reading it. The speculative conceit was not realistic. The teenage psychology was. And it was very clear that you do not have to intend to be a monster to wind up treating your loved ones monstrously, and you do not have to intend to be a jailer to put them in a prison they need to escape.

Those who have issues with reading about self-harm will probably also find this book really, really difficult. Like, you would need a serious good reason to read this book if you are a person in this category because there are substantial amounts of very vivid description of self-harm. This is for plot reasons due to the speculative conceit, but I’m not sure that will make the experience less difficult to read and may well make it more so. Beyond that I cannot honestly tell whether people whose families were less loving and healthy than mine will find this book cathartic or personally horrifying or some of each. You should tread with caution not because this is badly done but because it is well and lovingly done. This is not a hopeless book. Its ending is a substantially positive one. But I think it will be a wall-climbing experience for many readers.

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