Thursday, August 30, 2012

Musings: The Shape-Changer's Wife

The Shape-Changer's Wife
The Shape-Changer's Wife has been on my shelf for six years now, but I admit I only picked it up because I wasn't sure what I was in the mood to read, and it's a pretty slim volume.

Sharon Shinn's novel is about Aubrey, a young wizard sent to learn transmorgification from Glyrenden, an older wizard who is disliked by everyone who knows him and feared by all the animals in the forest.  Aubrey meets Glyrenden's wife, Lilith, and his servants, Arachne and Orion.  All of them are a bit odd.  But Aubrey is so excited to learn from Glyrenden that he doesn't think much about it.  However, as Glyrenden spends more time away from home and Aubrey spends more time with Lilith, he realizes that things are not quite what they seem and that Glyrenden has horrible deeds in his past.  Is Aubrey strong enough a wizard to take on a master like Glyrenden?

This book was written for young adults, but I can't imagine many people reading it and not catching onto "the thing" pretty early on in the story, certainly much earlier than Aubrey.  But Shinn has a wonderful way with words, and so I didn't mind too much that Aubrey seemed denser than everyone else in the story.  Perhaps because he was so taken up with Lilith.

Lilith reminded me a lot of Sybel from The Forgotten Beasts of Eld.  She is untouchable - she doesn't have any strong emotion, she doesn't seem to care much about what is happening around her, and she pays very little attention to people when they are not talking directly to her.  She isn't classically beautiful, but she draws men to her through a tantalizing mix of complete unconcern and lonely vulnerability.

I didn't love this book.  There isn't a lot that happens, though it's so short - just over 200 pages - that I suppose not much can happen.  It's unfair of me to complain about its length when I picked it up solely  because it was so short.  But considering that I knew "the thing" less than halfway through the story, I was annoyed that the consequences of that were dealt with so shallowly.  Rather than any great events happening for most of the story, it's small things that build upon each other.  That was also similar to The Forgotten Beasts of Eld and Jo Walton's Among Others.  Except Walton did amazing, wonderful things to build tension and Shinn didn't quite accomplish that for me.  As I had already guessed the point of tension, there wasn't much of anything to build for me.  I knew what was coming, and when it came, I was not surprised.

This was a quick read, and I'm glad to have gotten it off my TBR list, finally!  But it's not one I'll revisit in future.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Musings: The Book of a Thousand Days

The Book of a Thousand Days
After reading three intense books at once - A Suitable Boy, The Worst Hard Time, and Nothing to Envy - I really just wanted something happy and sweet and fun that I could finish quickly.  Whew, thank you, Shannon Hale!  The Book of a Thousand Days was just what I needed.

The story starts with the narrator, Dashti, lady's maid to Saren, being locked up in a tower with Saren.  Lady Saren refuses to marry the man chosen for her by her father, and so he locks her up in a windowless tower with enough food and candles for seven years.  But Saren eats a lot and the rats eat even more and the food runs out much more quickly than Dashti would like.  The girls are visited a few times by Saren's chosen betrothed, Khan Tegus, who is kind and funny and thoughtful.  And then they are visited once by Lord Khasar, the man she refuses to marry, and everything goes wrong after that.  The book chronicles the girls' time in the tower, their escape, and their subsequent time in Khan Tegus' home.

I was surprised by how much I liked Dashti in this book.  While she is kind and courageous and wonderfully loyal, she also does whatever Saren tells her to do and has far too much patience with the brat, and that got tiring.  But as the story continued, I realized just how ingrained the idea of the gentry being descended from god and the commoners being created solely to serve them was.  I also understood that there were real consequences to Dashti disagreeing with or refusing Saren, and so her behavior made much more sense as I continued reading the novel.  Dashti is really awesome.  In many ways, she reminds me of Mulan because she's willing to take on roles that are very dangerous for her and could get her in a lot of trouble, but because she's that great, she just does it and deals with the consequences as they come.

Saren, on the other hand, is an exhaustingly whiny person and I got tired of her real quick.  She's like the Laura to Dashti's Marian, if you've read The Woman in White, except luckily for us and our modern age, Dashti is very clearly the heroine in this book.

Hale sets this story in a fantastical version of Mongolia, and props to her for doing so!  I recently visited the Field Museum's exhibit on Genghis Khan (which was lame, and I do not recommend going) and was so excited to see that setting brought to life here.  What I most appreciated was that Hale created very strict rules for her society and then had all the characters and situations stick to them.  Just because two people fall in love, it doesn't mean they can be together, for example - they need to convince the world around them that they are legally entitled to do so.  I loved that she did this; it made the story much more realistic and made me tumble into love with the hero for working so hard to keep Dashti by his side.

I read this book in one day, and it totally refreshed me!  Highly recommended for those times when you're emotionally exhausted from a big, intense read and just want to settle down with something happy.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

[TSS] Introducing: A More Diverse Universe Blog Tour

Thanks to Alex for creating this graphic!

I've spoken on this blog (and in other forums) about the lack of diversity in fantasy fiction, particularly fantasy fiction of the epic nature.  If epic fantasy has diversity, it is often present in a fashion that mirrors the stereotypes of Medieval Europe, with Viking-like invaders from the North and Infidels from the East and uneasy peaces and petty wars with those that look most like the heroes of the stories.  This is unfair for many reasons that I hope I don't need to enumerate here.  And of course, there are absolutely amazing authors whose books are populated by characters of every size, shape, color, and species.  But it's still difficult and frustrating to be a fantasy reader who comes up against the same tropes in every book.  Because while fantasy novels can be, well, fantastic, they can also be very repetitive and tell the same story with different character names.  And I can't help but think that at least part of the reason is because of the lack of diversity in fantasy book authorship.  Because it is hard to break into the fantasy genre as a new author, generally.  And even more difficult if your book is about a person of color.  And most difficult of all if you yourself are a person of color writing stories about characters of color.

Sherman Alexie

Did you know that there are more books in publication about people of character that are by Caucasian authors than there are by people of color authors?!  That means that if you are white and write a book about an Indian girl named Aarti and her life in Chicago (and perhaps a fantastical journey to Fairyland) you are more likely than I am to get that book published.  That's messed up.

Adolfo Bioy Casares
And so a small group of bloggers got together to create an event to fight this.  And, as bloggers do, we decided to organize a blog tour.  For one week in September (the week of the 23rd), we want ALL OF YOU fantasy/sci fi/magical realism readers (with blogs and without) to read a fantasy/sci fi/magical realism novel written by a person of color.  And to write a review of that book.  You know as well as I do that books succeed based on word of mouth and mentions and conversation, and this is where bloggers can help the MOST.  Just read one book.  And share your thoughts on that one book.

Hiromi Goto
I know your TBR list is huge.  I know your commitments are many.  I know that there are so many things on which you must take a stand, and it can be exhausting to make reading a political activity.  But this is so important to me, and I really think it should be important to you, too.  None of us lives in a monochromatic world, and yet the fact that terrifying hate crimes still occur makes it clear that we do not fully understand or trust each other.  And maybe part of the reason is because the media we consume does not accurately reflect the diversity of our society.  And books are such a massive part of the media we consume that we should demand and fight for those that do represent minorities and those that do present the world from a different perspective than the one we are used to.  So please - participate.  You may just discover a character or an author or a setting or a story that will completely change your life.

Octavia Butler

SO, now that I've convinced you, what are the details?  Well, here you go!

The A More Diverse Universe Blog Tour will take place from September 23rd to September 29th.  To participate, you need only read and review one book in the speculative fiction genre that was written by a person of color.  Simple, right?  So do it!

Thank you to Anachronist for creating this button!

Once you sign up, please take the button and post it on your page and spread the word about the event - we want this to be big!

Sign-ups are open nowAll you have to do is scroll down this post for the form.  Sign-ups will be open until  September 12th.  You will be notified of your date to post by September 16th.  This gives you a week to compose and schedule your post.  I will have a full schedule up on here on BookLust by September 21st, so you can come check here to see all the other AMAZING PEOPLE who are participating in this FABULOUS TOUR.

Want to participate but not sure what book to read?  Don't worry!  We've got you covered.  Check out the links below and see if anything strikes your fancy:

First, visit the Carl Brandon Society, a whole organization with the mission "to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction."  Perfect!  

The Carl Brandon Society is so amazing it put together a list of speculative fiction authors for Black History Month, Asian-Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, and American Indian Heritage Month.  So if any of those cultures appeal to you, check out those lists! 

Don't like the idea of sorting by ethnicity and want a full data dump of authors who qualify for this tour?  Check out this wiki! 

Recommended Reading - People of Color in Fantasy Literature.  Note that this link lists not only authors of color writing in the genre, but also authors who write speculative fiction books with characters of color.  For this blog tour, only books by authors of color count.  So please check!

Want to participate, but don't want to commit to a full-length novel?  Here's a list of short fiction.

Love YA fantasy?  (Who doesn't?)  Here's a list just for you.

Here's another list of YA fantasy with characters of color - but again, be careful to choose an author of color!

I will post in the next week or two a list of books that I have read and enjoyed or that I want to read and enjoy - so if the links don't spark anything for you, look out for that post!

Now, that's enough out of me.  Let's get to the sign-ups, shall we?  I am so excited to see what you read and your reaction to it - have fun making a positive difference!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Musings: Nothing to Envy - Ordinary Lives in North Korea

Nothing to Envy - Ordinary Lives in North Korea
Gosh, I love my followers.  Without you guys, I'd never have heard about Barbara Demick's excellent book Nothing to Envy:  Ordinary Lives in North Korea, and my life would have been the lesser for it.

Earlier this year, I read Guy DeLisle's Pyongyang and didn't really enjoy it because DeLisle came off as an angry and frustrated tour guide to take us through the country.  Almost everyone in the comments of that post mentioned Demick's book, and so when I saw it on my visit to Powell's Books in Portland, OR, I didn't think twice about getting it.

And while I still think that DeLisle was harsh in his assessment of the North Korean people, I can understand now where his frustration and anger stem from, especially when you learn about the number of North Koreans that have died of starvation over the past decade or two.

Barbara Demick worked in Seoul for the LA Times as a reporter and while she was there, she interviewed many North Korean defectors.  What she learned was truly chilling and sad.

In some ways, you almost want to laugh at the things you hear about North Korea and their almost cultish way of life.  The belief that the Grand Marshall Kim Il-sung was born under an auspicious double rainbow near a sacred mountain when almost everyone knows that he was born somewhere completely different.  That when he died, a thousand birds descended to take his body straight to heaven.  That he led fantastically successful military maneuvers against enemies and won every battle against overwhelming odds.  That he is an agricultural/astrophysics/military/operations/government genius.  It's ludicrous on so many levels, and perhaps it would be funny if the North Koreans had a way to prove him wrong, to understand that there are other sides to the story, other opinions.  But they don't.  And so anyone who doesn't quite fit in, who doesn't believe heart and soul in the Communist regime, feels completely isolated and terrified of being turned in.  And they so often are.  North Korea has work camps and spies and police and military enough to make anyone think twice about rising up against those in power.

Demick presents all of these facts in her book, but unlike DeLisle, she has obvious sympathy for the people whose stories she shares.  And the people are wonderful, too.  We meet people who were born defiant and never fit into the North Korean way of life.  We meet people who fully bought into Kim Il-sung's doctrines until their own lives fell completely apart.  And their stories are so moving and so personal that it's impossible not to become deeply absorbed in this book.  Demick shows us a population of highly inventive, determined people who want to live their best life.  They are downtrodden, hungry, and disillusioned, but they also bounce back from so many setbacks.  Reading their stories here really humanizes North Koreans and makes it clear that, just like the rest of the world, they have individual hopes and dreams that they want to accomplish, too.  A beautiful book with a lot of heart.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Musings: A Suitable Boy

A Suitable Boy
It is impossible to attempt a review of Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy without commenting on its length.  This book is immense.  Almost 1500 pages of very small font.  I started it around Memorial Day and finished it on August 1st.  I don't know the last time I ever felt so accomplished for finishing a book.

I read George Eliot's Middlemarch earlier this year, and it's also impossible not to compare the two books.  Both are very long books that follow many characters but focus on a few key ones.  Both are set during a volatile time in history and are steeped in their settings.  Both discuss the impact of a new piece of legislature that would take power away from landowners and give it to the peasants.  Both are about the relationships that exist within families and between people.

They're very similar, but I enjoyed A Suitable Boy more.  Perhaps because it's set in a more modern world but written in a sprawling, unhurried manner.  Perhaps because it's set in India and I enjoyed the references to customs and clothing and food.  Perhaps because I vastly preferred Lata to Dorothea (sorry, Middlemarch fans, but Lata is great and not nearly as martyr-esque).

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Re-Posting: The Temple Shootings

I briefly had the below post up on this blog several days ago, and then took it down several hours later because I was nervous about sharing my thoughts on the topic and because I thought the comments were going off-topic.  I didn't want the conversation to devolve into individuals telling me that they feel horrible about what happened and then give me the reasons that they didn't post about the event.  I don't want to be forced to say something like, "Oh, no, don't worry, it's not your fault."  Because I think all of us are culpable.

I don't want people to apologize for what happened; that really was not your fault.  I don't want you to tell me you were glued to the news.  I don't want you to talk about how sad and angry you are that these things happen.  The point is that these things do happen, and the more disturbing point is that these things happen and people treat each occurrence differently, based on the circumstances that surrounded it.

I just want you to think about the Oak Creek shootings.  How did you hear about the news?  When did you hear about it?  How did you react?  Did you react differently than you did to the Colorado shootings?  How long did you think about it before going on with your day?  What set of criteria would you have needed to tweet/post/comment about the shootings, and are those criteria different based on the situation?  Do you think if a different group of people had been the target, or a different man had been the murderer, that the news would have covered it differently?  Or that you would have talked about it more or differently?

You don't need to answer these questions here.  You can, if you want to.  But as I said, I want you to think.  Consider the inherent biases we all use to process information without even noticing that we have those biases.  The choices people make to share one type of news over another, or to use loaded terminology for one group and not for another- these are subconscious, seemingly minuscule decisions that you may not notice but can have a huge impact on the world and the stereotypes that often shape our behavior.  So think about it.

And read this.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On Sunday, there was a hate crime at a Sikh temple in the suburbs of Milwaukee, WI, just about ninety miles from where I live.  Six Indians were killed in a house of worship by a white supremacist who later shot himself in the head.

I didn't hear about this tragedy until much later, when my sister told me that evening.  This surprised me.  I had been on Facebook during the day.  I had checked Twitter.  I admittedly hadn't gone to any news sites, but I usually assume that my social network will inform me of breaking news.  After all, it was a lone gunman shooting at a group of innocent people; surely that was worthy of a status update or a tweet. If I heard about Whitney Houston dying of a drug overdose via Facebook news feed, surely I would hear about a mass shooting.

But both Facebook and Twitter were strangely quiet.  Not one person that was not Indian posted about this crime in my network.  I have over 600 friends on Facebook.  I follow hundreds of people on Twitter.  Nothing.  No blog posts on the matter, either, and I follow almost 200 blogs.

What did people post about?  The Olympics.  Their awesome weekends.  Summer vacations.  Books, TV shows, and movies.  Chik-fil-A.

That's why I am writing this.

I do not post personal things on my blog.  I keep my "real" life separate from my blogging life.  I understand that other people want to do the same on their social media outlets.  But I cannot say the last time I felt so upset - not so much angry as saddened and isolated - in a very long time.  How can I have so many friends with whom I interact daily or weekly and yet don't think that this event is worthy of comment?

When a gunman opened fire at a movie theater in Colorado, it was all over my Facebook feed.  People were in an uproar on Twitter about Trayvon Martin's murder.  And about a fast food chain owner's thoughts on gay marriage.  If you can post your anger about the Chik-fil-A situation for weeks and talk about how much you hate people that spread a message of hate, then why can't you spare a post about an actual hate crime?

I'm not saying that the event hasn't been covered in the news.  It has.  It's on CNN.  It's on the local stations.  It is all over NPR and the BBC.  That is not what I'm talking about.  I am talking about my own social network - a large group of people that is connected to at least one Indian person.  A group of people that posted about the Olympics.  About Gabby's hair.  About Chik-fil-A and Mitt Romney.  About so many issues (and non-issues) that they deem important enough to voice their opinions on.  

But this did not make the list.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Musings: The Warrior's Apprentice

The Warrior's Apprentice
I first heard about Lois McMaster Bujold's on a Yahoo! Group dedicated to Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles and House of Niccolo novels. Miles Vorkosigan is often compared to Francis Crawford of Lymond, and after reading The Warrior's Apprentice, I can completely understand the comparison.  Both Miles and Francis have a lot of gumption for aristocratic teenagers.

I finally got my hands on the first book in the (Miles portion of the) Vorkosigan series via audiobook download!  I have no idea when I will read the next book in the series because the library sadly doesn't have all the books available in audiobook.  But now I've started the series, and I have plans to finish it, whenever that may be.

So what's the book about?  Miles Vorkosigan is a stunted and crippled 17-year-old who fails the physical exam to join the Imperial Army, so sets off on a trip to see his grandmother on a distant planet instead.  When he arrives on Beta colony, he somehow gains control and ownership of an outdated airship, a deserter from the Barrayaran army, and a commission to deliver weapons to a region in the midst of a horrible, long-running war.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Musings: The Inn at Lake Devine

The Inn at Lake Devine
The Inn at Lake Devine is the sort of book that works best in summer, I think.  Look at that cover!  Wouldn't you love to sit on one of those lawn chairs along a placid lake, watching the sunset?  I certainly would.  Except that I wouldn't be allowed to, of course, because the Inn at Lake Devine is for Gentiles Only.

Natalie Marx is stunned when she hears the news.  Her family wants to vacation somewhere pretty for the summer of 1960-something, and they ask for lodging at Lake Devine, as people keep raving about Vermont.  But the reply is clear - yes, we have availability, but no, not for you.  As it's only about 15 years after the end of World War II, Natalie goes on a one-teenager mission to educate the proprietor of the inn, Mrs. Berry.  She sends anonymous news clippings, quotes Anne Frank, registers at the inn under false names of Gentiles who committed horrible, heinous acts.

And then one day, a distant friend named Robin invites her to go to the inn with her family, and Natalie accepts.  She wants to know what happens at such an exclusive resort.  Not much, she finds, and loses touch both with her friend and her experience at the inn.  But ten years later, Robin invites Natalie to her wedding at the Inn, and from that point on, Natalie's life is tied to that of the Inn at Lake Devine.

There are a few things I didn't know before I read this book:
1.  Jewish girls have (had?) a reputation for being "easy" as long as you pay them enough compliments.
2.  The Catskills are full of hotels and resorts that cater to Jewish travelers.
3.  The "American Plan" refers to lodging that provides you with three meals a day.

But now I am well-versed in the cultural norms/stereotypes expressed above!

The Inn at Lake Devine is a fun book.  It's very funny, quite sweet, and even if it became very odd at some points, like when there was a totally unexpected case of severe mushroom poisoning and hospital hallucinations, it was an enjoyable read.  Natalie is a great narrator to take us happily through the story, interspersing conversations with her own wry asides and introducing her to Jewish culture in a way that is gently mocking but clearly very affectionate.  Her family is very tight-knit and supportive, and the inquisitive nature and funny foibles of life at a Jewish resort are contrasted lightly against the experience that Natalie had at the Inn at Lake Devine.

The anti-Semitism angle is explored in detail, but not so much to overpower the story.  In some ways, I thought Lipman took the easy way out.  For example, is it likely that the husband and sons of an Anti-Semite would be so kind and generous and thoughtful and completely blind to race?  Doubtful.  But then, as another character points out, so many people are blind to race because they're used to being in the majority.  They never feel like a fish out of water because, well, they are so rarely out of the water.  Mrs. Berry is presented as an unkind, selfish, and completely unsympathetic character.  I think there could have been so much more nuance there if instead, her character was kind to her family and well-loved by the inn's visitors, but also completely set in her prejudices.  But then this would have been a different story and probably not nearly as funny.  So, instead, I salute Elinor Lipman for bringing attention to a serious issue by presenting us with a happily-ever-after comedy.  Well done!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Musings: Delusions of Gender

Delusions of Gender
WOW.  This is one of those books that you will read aloud to anyone that happens to be seated next to you and will quote from in conversations for weeks to come.  It will also make you think critically about any even remotely gender-biased situation in which you may find yourself.

Cordelia Fine's Delusions of Gender is a book that I think every woman should read.  I think every man should read it, too, but I think the impact will be more powerful for women because they will see in it so many past conversations and dilemmas and decisions and just how much gender may have impacted all of them.

The back-of-the-book blurb for this one is wonderfully concise and descriptive, so I'll use it here:
Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience and psychology, Cordelia Fine debunks the myth of hardwired differences between men’s and women’s brains, unraveling the evidence behind such claims as men’s brains aren’t wired for empathy and women’s brains aren’t made to fix cars. She then goes one step further, offering a very different explanation of the dissimilarities between men’s and women’s behavior. Instead of a “male brain” and a “female brain,” Fine gives us a glimpse of plastic, mutable minds that are continuously influenced by cultural assumptions about gender. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Musings: The Uncommon Reader

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennet
Alan Bennett's novella The Uncommon Reader is one that I've had on my wish list for some time, and I was very happy to see that it is one of the audiobooks available for digital download from the library.  I am really getting much further along in both my mental and physical wish list of books to read by utilizing the library so much these days!  Particularly in the audiobook department- I feel so efficient!

The Uncommon Reader is a novella about Queen Elizabeth becoming an avid reader.  One fateful day, her beloved dogs start barking up a storm at a bookmobile and the Queen feels that she must borrow a book to make up for the disturbance.  She makes conversation with the other borrower, Norman, and chooses an Ivy Compton-Burnett novel for herself.  She finishes it and chooses another the next week.  And then another, and another, and another, until she finds herself with an insatiable thirst for reading.  She carries paperbacks in her handbags, reads while waving from the motorcades, hurries through official functions, and asks her subjects what they're reading.

In a regular person, this would not be a big deal.  But in a queen, it is.  What does it mean when a queen starts to read?  What is she implying about the state of the country?  What is she reading?  Does it have symbolic significance?

As a queen, Elizabeth does not have hobbies.  Choosing to read implies that the queen is choosing not to enjoy art or music or running or anything else - it expresses favoritism.  So does choosing one author over another.  And should she be allowed to read just for enjoyment, or should she be reading to make a statement?  One of her advisors recommends that she read books by minorities to gain popularity points.  The queen says that she is reading a book by Vikram Seth (so am I!), but that she is not reading it because he is a minority; she's reading it because she wants to read Vikram Seth.

The queen starts to neglect her duties so that she can read, begins to think more about other people and their places in the world as they relate to her.  Interestingly, she doesn't enjoy Jane Austen - the idea of a man and woman having so many hurdles to overcome just due to small differences in income or status doesn't seem real to her because the differences that exist between her and other people are so much wider.

This book is a gentle satire, but it really touches on so much of the magic that comes with being a reader.  The queen's perspective changes so drastically and has so many unforeseen consequences that one can't help but empathize with her position.  It was a lovely read, and I'm glad I finally got around to it.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Musings: Ella Minnow Pea

Ella Minnow Pea
Ella Minnow Pea:  A Novel in Letters takes place on the island of Nollop, supposedly named after the (not very nice) man who came up with the sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog," one of the shortest sentences in English to use all 26 letters.  To commemorate this man, the small island erected a cenotaph with the words on there to look down at all people for posterity.  The story is told in a series of letters between the Minnow Peas and their friends and family that live in different parts of the island.

Only, one day, the letters start falling off the cenotaph.  Nollop is run by a very totalitarian regime, and when the letter Z falls, the higher-ups go into a closed door meeting to determine what it could mean.  Apparently, it means much more than that the glue needs to be replaced.  The higher-ups decide that the letter Z fell because Nollop no longer believes it to be necessary.  And so no one on Nollop can use the letter Z any more; violations are dealt with in a very strict manner - after three violations, you are either deported or killed.  All the books are removed, all songs are banned, and you can no longer call 12 of anything a dozen.  The letters become shorter, less complex, and more difficult to understand as the letters continue to fall.

The citizens deal with this as they have dealt with so many nonsensical laws before, with anger and fear but the inability to voice their opinions without great risk to themselves and their families.  And as the letters continue falling, they find their ability to comply, cope and communicate more and more difficult.  Their only hope is to create a sentence that is even better than Nollop's, that uses every letter of the alphabet but is 32 letters long or less.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Musings: Green Grass, Running Water

Green Grass, Running Water
I first heard about Thomas King's Green Grass, Running Water on Eva's blog.  I put it on my wish list and looked for it every time I went to a bookstore or a library, but never found it.  And then I went to the BIG library and lo and behold it was there!  And so I have finally read it, and I'm so, so glad I did because this book is really, really good.

How can I describe it to you?  There are four old men:  The Lone Ranger, Robinson Crusoe, Hawkeye, and Ishmael.  There is also Coyote.  They have all escaped from a mental institution together.  For the 37th time.  One at a time, they tell Coyote a creation story.  Coyote interrupts, and as each man tells his story, we cut across to other people's lives in the modern day- "strong, sassy women and hard-luck, heardheaded men, all searching for the middle ground between Native American tradition and the modern world."  As the story progresses, all the characters move closer and closer towards the Sun Dance at their childhood home of Blossom, which is where (drum roll, please) the climax happens.

I really didn't do the book any justice above, and so you will just have to trust me on its worthiness and add it to your wish list or TBR or Purchase Immediately pile based on your innate trust of my taste in books.