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reading tiger

Reading Wednesday Ends The Year

Preliminary note: I started and finished Salt Fish Girl by Larissa Lai while on vacation -- mostly while on a plane to or from somewhere-or-other. I liked it, although I note in passing that it ends the story with a birth, something I've become increasingly aware of and mildly irked by. (Yes, I know, I ended The XY Conspiracy with a pregnancy. Not The Same Thing and On Purpose. And that "omg, that's not where the real story ends, where's the sequel" feeling? Also On Purpose.) Pregnancy and birth are a prologue, not a story in themselves. In Salt Fish Girl, things are cyclic enough that it works anyway, mostly. People who are grumpy that modern SF is anti-science will not like this book.

Since it is the last day of the year, it feels fitting to do a short retrospective on what I read in 2014.

The standouts in fiction were We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, and of course Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Not to neglect Almanac of the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko. Honorable mention to Michelle Tea's A Mermaid in Chelsea Creek. (Mermaids are a theme at the moment, it seems: see Salt Fish Girl above.)

In nonfiction, Kiese Laymon's How To Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America was fantastic, and Amber Dawn's How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler's Memoir was personally thought-provoking. Similarly, A History of Rock'n'Roll in Ten Songs by Griel Marcus helped reshape my ideas of how to organize a nonfiction discussion of tricky material, like music writing (Marcus) or memoir (Dawn). A lot of the material in Bear Bergman's Blood, Marriage, Wine and Glitter was familiar, but perfectly executed nonetheless, so it gets the Honorable Mention here.

But the nonfiction gold star goes to Jeff Chang's Who We Be, which is one of those books that, as I noted in my initial discussion, helps make sense of history that I have lived through, both recent and not-so -- its scope happens to conform almost perfectly with my lifespan so far, in fact.