Mai Yamani

Wednesday reading — brought to you by the letter P

What I've been reading

I read The Necessary Beggar, because I happened to notice that Susan Palwick was one of Jo Walton's beta readers and was intrigued. I absolutely loved it. It's about a family who are all sent into exile together in a randomly-selected world after one family member is convicted of a senseless murder, which of course happens to be our world, although in the near future. It ends like a Shakespearean comedy, with everything coming together and becoming clear and a wedding and it's just delightful. It won an Alex Award for books published for adults that have crossover YA appeal, which is entirely appropriate.

I read Shelter, which I enjoyed quite a bit less, although it did keep me turning pages anyway. It attempts some interesting things with its scope, anyway—it starts with a very confusing scene, and then pulls back to a nearer-future setting and explores, fairly exhaustively and from multiple points of view, how the world came to be that way and exactly what is happening among the characters that are involved.

I read Mending the Moon, which is not really science fiction or fantasy; it traces the mourning of a murdered woman by her adopted son and her female best friends. The thing that bugged me most about this book is that a bunch of the characters are supposed to be fans of a fictional comic book about Comrade Cosmos and his nemesis, the Emperor of Entropy, which started as a webcomic and is supposed to be so popular in-universe that there are four movies. There is a lot of description of the plotline of the comic itself and the nature of its fandom which is so uncanny valley for me, because the fandom sounds like a real fandom but the supposed comic is completely unconvincing to me as something that would attract that level of fandom. It's just sort of weird and boring. I also especially hate the plot twist that the in-universe fandom is also supposed to hate and for similar reasons and I'm not sure if that's supposed to be intentional or what.

The other thing that bugged me is okay, it's sort of an exact inversion of what happens in The Necessary Beggar, because the senseless murder of a strange woman by a young man who refuses to explain himself and subsequently commits suicide isn't actually all a misunderstanding at all. Even though I felt like the book was signaling pretty hard that there wasn't going to be any kind of explanation, I was still kind of hoping for one anyway, just because it was so bizarre. Even as an intentionally inexplicable crime, I find it so unsatisfying.

I read Proust in Love, which I found enormously entertaining, especially his high school years. He would pass notes in class, trying to proposition his straight friends, and they would turn him down and tease him about being such a clingy weirdo but also save the notes because they were impressed by how well-written they were, and in such a brief period of time and with no words crossed out, either! Clearly the sign of a future successful writer.

I read the Penguin Lives version of Edmund White's Proust biography, which is interesting, although if I had realized it was actually abridged from a longer version instead of just being short I probably would have tried to find that version first. Oh well.

I read The Rescuers on a whim, because I hadn't read it as a kid. Garth Williams mice are even cuter than Disney mice. They all bear a strong family resemblance to Tucker from The Cricket in Times Square, which I did read, repeatedly.

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You're managing to do much more reading than I've done so far in the New Year, and this is inspiring :)