I was a bit skeptical about this book - often literary fiction does poorly with anything even approaching science - but Bellevue is rather a wonderful imprint so I thought I would give it a try. Absolutely worth it - exactly the right mix of thoughtfulness, humor, and wonder - and I love how casually she worked a novelistic story into these not-at-all-novelistic entries of an imaginative bestiary. It might be Borgesian, except their writing styles are so different. Anyway, I loved it.
(278, O60, A7)
Inside Dope, by Paul Thomas
Gnarrrrr. Even being set in New Zealand was not enough to make me like this book, and yet there were flashes of brilliance amid the muck: 4-8 page chunks where everything flowed perfectly and nothing made me want to bang my head against a wall. So I will probably try the next one, but warily.
How to Be Black, by Baratunde R. Thurston
This was pitched to me as a humor book The author is a comedy writer and the book WAS often funny - but really it's a memoir-in-essays. And a damn good one at that. Still, if you're expecting laugh-a-minute, you will be confused. Once I adjusted, I was much more into this book than I would've been into the book I thought it would be. Flat out excellent.
11 Experiments That Failed, by Jenny Offill
HILARIOUS. SO SO SO FUNNY and the pictures match the text perfectly. 8 year old me would have read and reread this book, giggling like mad all the while.
Stick and Stone, by Beth Ferry
A touching but not sappy fable that left me feeling better about life. Also I liked the pictures. (Also, I am particularly noticing that it is hard to find so many different but still accurate ways to explain "picture book. was good." so close together. Must not procrastinate so much on writing these next year.)
Burqa de chair, by Nelly Arcan
This book was extremely hard to read because of the subject matter, extremely easy to read in terms of style. Nelly Arcan was a very angry, very heartbroken genius, who took her own life far too early after leaving behind a bunch of writing - published and not - about femininity, philosophy, and her experiences (including the experience of working as a prostitute for several years). I am glad I read this book, but it will be a long time before I gather the energy to read more of her writing.
The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins (nook)
Much like reading Chesterton's detective stories a few years back, I found parts of this absolutely fabulous and parts of it disgustingly racist. There were also parts that were quite funny and insightful about human nature, and parts that read as though he'd never actually known a woman in his life. I developed a sturdy fondness for one of his protagonists, the Robinson-Crusoe-worshipping butler. All told, it wasn't my favorite novel of the era, but I'll be reading more of him eventually.
The Country You Have Never Seen, by Joanna Russ
For whatever reason, even though I have almost never met a feminist sf novel I didn't like, I've read almost no Joanna Russ. After listening to Samuel Delaney talk about her on a podcast, I felt the need to remedy the situation and decided to ease into her work with this collection of essays and reviews. Frequently frustrating, more frequently delightful, always wicked smart. Consider me eased. I'll be very surprised if I don't read at least one of her novels this year.