Liv Tyler

Wednesday reading — finally

What I've been reading

I read the Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen eARC. When the Vorkosigan series was at its peak, each book incorporated plot, character stuff and theme into a perfect, seamless whole and it was truly beautiful. This book I would say is pretty much entirely character stuff, with the barest minimum of story stuff to hang it on. Objectively speaking, I would probably not say it was a very good book, and it would be hard to recommend without a lot of caveats.

Subjectively, I loved it. I have read basically this same story—the one that's barely a story, that's pretty much entirely about someone having some kind of crisis about their sexuality, hooking up with the person who prompted that crisis, and having ridiculous amounts of very satisfying sex—approximately one zillion times, and I plan to read that story approximately one zillion more times, and I'm going to enjoy it every time.

Now, normally when I'm reading (or writing) this story, the sexuality crisis is over a same-sex partner. I don't have any problem with the reverse story in theory, but in practice like 99% of people who pair canon gay characters with opposite sex partners in fic are doing it because they're homophobic and not because they enjoy stories about people who find themselves bemused by their own sexual desires, so that's a dealbreaker. At least with what is essentially fic but written by the original author I'm not questioning why LMB is writing Oliver's sexuality out, because she is also the one who wrote Oliver's sexuality in. Also, much as I would have liked a happy present tense same-sex relationship in this series, I thought she did some very interesting and moving things with the way the past tense Aral/Oliver relationship was nevertheless pretty central to the book.

I can see why a lot of people who love Aral/Cordelia really didn't like that Aral hooked up with Oliver before he negotiated an open relationship, which is not the kindest and most considerate thing to do to your spouse, but it worked for me. I can just see Aral freaking out that he fucked it up, he found the perfect wife but he still fucked it up, he is definitely a bad person who fucks things up and can never be happy, except that Cordelia just flatly refuses to get on board with his premise about things being fucked up at all, because in fact things are awesome.

I was so into that scene where Cordelia grills Oliver about his history of sexual attraction to determine his type. I'm not sure anyone could survive in a relationship with Cordelia without a sort of kink for having their most intimate thoughts teased out and dissected in great detail. I feel like it's definitely a species of humiliation kink. Of course, conveniently one can obtain at least a temporary reprieve with kisses, not an option available to other people with Cordelia in their lives, such as, say, Miles.

I didn't dislike the hyperfertility subplot as such, but I did find it unsatisfying. The fact that Cordelia has long harbored this plan to initiate the next phase of her life with six daughters, and that she tempts Oliver into initiating the next phase of his life with four sons, is interesting and maybe in itself sufficient for one book, but especially in a Vorkosigan context I can't help thinking No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. The last time Cordelia decided to have a kid, 11+ books' worth of Miles happened!

To be fair, Cordelia has already controlled for a lot of the circumstances that made Miles Miles, but to be so certain of your six-daughter plan seems like hubris. The bits we see of Miles and Ekaterin's children in this book are fun but they're hardly real like Miles is, and these shadow children even less so. I feel like Aral and Cordelia's six daughters, co-parented along with Aral and Oliver's four sons, could hardly be boring if they were ever granted a real, on-page existence, but this seems unlikely. Although I hardly know what Bujold may intend to do next. I wasn't expecting this book in the first place, after all.

I read Career of Evil, J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith's new Cormoran Strike book. I could have done with a lot less of the killer's POV, which was pretty repetitive and content-free since it had to avoid giving away anything that would rule out any of the rogue's gallery of deeply evil suspects or give away the where the killer was hiding. In spite of that, though, the mystery was enjoyably twisty, although I got a little tired of the constant lectures about people (mostly women) romanticising evil. Okay, I get it, you don't think anyone should have liked Draco or Snape, please move on already.

I was never that invested in Cormoran and Robin staying strictly platonic and find I am enjoying those two weirdos being completely ridiculous in each other's general direction. However, this:
Yet the revelation had caused certain other feelings—feelings he usually kept under tight rein, considering them both misguided and dangerous—to flex inside him, to test their strength against their restraining bonds.
is apparently the only way Rowling knows how to write men being attracted to women, and it needs to stop.

I read The Copper Gauntlet, the second book in Holly Black's series co-written with Cassandra Cla(i)re that is often a bit meta about Harry Potter, among other things. Although I don't like it as much as my favorite Holly Black solo books, it continues to be fun. I'm especially interested to read the next one after something happens at the end of this one that one might expect to be saved for the end of a series.

I read Shopaholic to the Rescue, which is essentially the second and also more entertaining half of the last book in the Shopaholic series, which I complained about ending abruptly. I'm totally going to have to keep reading these books to discuss them with my mom even if they get terrible, so I was glad that they returned to acceptable form for an entry in a series that isn't as fresh as it used to be.

I read Detection Unlimited, which is the last mystery novel that Georgette Heyer published before her death. It features a particularly twisty mystery, as though she were pulling out all the stops, including the classic, a character who himself writes murder mysteries.

I read/skimmed How Not to Read: Harnessing the Power of a Literature-Free Life. Aside from the selection of better book titles, which is a schtick I have enjoyed, it wasn't very good. How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read by Pierre Bayard is the more intellectual but also much funnier version of this book that I recommend instead. It has no pictures, though.

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Heh, this is so completely how I feel about GJ&RQ. Well, that plus a strong desire to write fic about what it would be like to be a Shakespeare professor at Kayburg University, because apparently I am entirely predictable.