Matilda

Wednesday reading meme

What I've been reading

I read the latest two Roma Sub Rosa books and also the second collection of short stories. I'm still not sure what the materialistic explanation for some of the supernatural-seeming goings-on in The Judgment of Caesar is actually supposed to be, but I totally ship Cleopatra/Caesar/Ptolemy now. Bisexual incestuous threesomes are my preferred method of conflict resolution.

Then I was in a very Latinate mood and I flicked through X-Treme Latin, one of Henry Beard's collections of ridiculous things translated into Latin. I'm a sucker for any old dumb joke if it's translated into Latin. Also, 'SpongoRobertum QuadratoBracatum'.

I reread T-Backs, T-Shirts, COAT and Suit, which is still the only place I have ever heard or seen thongs referred to as "t-backs". Kind of middling Konigsburg, but I do like Chloë and her dieresis as a narrator. And at least all the items in the unwieldy list title are of equally great significance to the plot, unlike some other titles I could mention. Well, t-shirts are iffy compared with the others, but I'll let them slide.

I read/reread Neil Gaiman's Make Good Art Speech with the bonus fancy typography for gift-giving and such. It is very attractive as a physical object and it is a nice speech.

I read Holly Black's new middle-grade book, Doll Bones, which is nicely creepy but I felt like the kid characters were a little too self-aware or too articulate about being right on the cusp of being Too Old to Play With Dolls. It's a fine line to walk and I tend to prefer not saying anything outright that you can imply vaguely instead.

I read Why Read the Classics?, which collects the titular essay and 35 introductions/essays/bits of literary miscellany by Calvino, who is of course always interesting about anything, including the books I haven't read yet or never plan to.

I really enjoyed Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature by Emma Donoghue, an entertaining survey of implicit or explicit lesbians in literature, grouped into six categories or tropes: the Travesties (that is, cross dressers, in both directions), the Inseparables, the Rivals, Monsters, Detection and Out. I particularly liked that she included a lot of medieval and Renaissance materials, since that's one of my things.

The Shadow of the Sun is A.S. Byatt's first novel and the last one I hadn't read. My copy has a nice new introduction by the author, who is always good at writing about people who write and writing about her own writing. As for the book itself, well…it's like a dry run at the Frederica Quartet, only all the characters are seriously 100x more annoying. (I loved the Frederica Quartet, but let me tell you, it was certainly not because of how completely non-annoying the protagonists were.) Byatt is so worried about making her girl-who-goes-to-Cambridge character a Mary Sue that she goes overboard in the opposite direction, making her a dull and incurious slab. Meanwhile, the older academic who grooms her, seduces her, dominates her (although not, mysteriously, employing any of the breathlessly-alluded-to-but-never-elaborated-upon sadistic practices with which he makes his wife's life a misery during his affair with her), impregnates her and finally entraps her is so goddamn creepy that I could throw up. On the other hand, it is Byatt, so it is all beautifully written with lots of nicely observed little moments.

I also read On Histories and Stories, which collects some of Byatt's essays about writing, including her own.

What I'm reading now

I have this book, Antigones, which looks great, except the beginning is all about Hegel and I hate Hegel so it's kind of a slog.

What I'm reading next

If I knew, I'd probably be reading it now instead of posting here. I think I may just amputate this part of the meme in the future unless I have something specific in mind.

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> Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature by Emma
Donoghue



On first read I thought this was an anthology about the writings of Emma Donoghue, and I was quite confused. :p