What are you reading (non-SF)? (2015-16)

Discussion in 'Other Literature' started by Boreas, May 2, 2015.

  1. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I am now reading Ellen Kushner's Swordpoint.

    So far, really excellent. More like an Edwardian or Regency historical novel in an imaginary setting. Last month, I had read some of Georgette Heyer's historical romances (Regency Buck, which was okay and Sylvester, which was excellent and really hilarious), and the character interactions of the aristocratic class in Swordpoint feel similar. Very fluid writing so far and no magic! I'm happy to be finally reading more Ellen Kushner. I read her Thomas the Rhymer years and years ago and absolutely loved it. Promised myself that I would read more Kushner but just never got around to it till now.
     
  2. Alicia

    Alicia Well-Known Member

    Found a short one that was really good, Ghost Story by Jeff Brackett. More of a short story but really well done!
     
  3. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Last few fantasy reads that I've finished have been:

    The Vagrant by Peter Newman
    Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner
    The King's Justice: Two Novellas by Stephen R. Donaldson

    Right now I'm on a science fiction novel, but might also pick up a fantasy for a change of pace if the sf work goes slow.
     
  4. Alicia

    Alicia Well-Known Member

    Another Christmas Horror read that was short and very good, A Christmas Story by Austin Crawley. Three women do a seance to raise the ghosts from Dickens' A Christmas Carol and get more than they bargained for.
     
  5. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Reading Nicola Griffith's Hild (comes highly recommended by Neal Stephenson).
     
  6. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Also started the next Jane Austen book that was on queue, Emma. Was actually going to start Northanger Abby first, but decided to get this one out of the way.
     
  7. Alicia

    Alicia Well-Known Member

    Any good?

    I'm reading a fun circus Mystery, A Spark of Justice by J.D. Hawkins. An insurance investigator has to determine whether the lion tamer was murdered or it was an accident and gets involved with circus people who mess with him in sometimes hilarious ways.
     
  8. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Yes, Hild was a good book and I recommend it. Need to do a write-up (I'm behind by about 3-4 reviews).

    I haven't really been reading for nearly two months now, but I've finally picked up a novel. I wanted something light and fun where I wouldn't need to think much, but where the writing would be still up to standard. And I felt like some comedy. So, I was thinking my best bet was either some Wodehouse or another Heyer novel and I opted for Heyer with The Convenient Marriage.
     
  9. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Finished the The Convenient Marriage and enjoyed it, as ever, although not as much as, say, Sylvester. It started off well with Heyer's usual panache and, given the premise plus character introductions, I had high hopes for immediate, comedic escapades. But it sort of plateaued and I wasn't sure how exactly Heyer wanted to develop the plot. There was almost a whole other minor plot that sometimes seemed like it might become more notable...it vacillated between almost coming into prominence and then falling back into plot hinterland. It was still entertaining but, for a large section of the novel, there was some sense of an expectation not quite fulfilled or an anticipation of things that weren't quite arriving with the alacrity they deserved. The denouement, though, made it all okay. This second minor plot, with characters who were [kind of] ancillary, suddenly flowered into prominence and it was all just brilliantly hilarious - the comic situations, the series of 'accidents', the dialogue. Trademark Heyer. Went a long way in redeeming any disaffection I might have felt up till then. I'd say this one is not her best but I'm beginning to believe that almost any Heyer is worth reading, and the wrap-up actually makes it all worthwhile.

    I've also been feeling like I want to read crime fiction lately. A genre I'm not familiar with. Any good recommendations? I'm curious about those Reacher books written by Lee Child, so maybe I might pick up the first volume.
     
  10. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    So, I did end up picking up Lee Child's first Jack Reacher novel, Killing Floor, and will start on it sometime this weekend. Is anybody already a fan of these books?
     
  11. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Moving away from Fantasy and S fiction, during the last couple of months I have read:
    The Burning Land, 5th instalment of The Warrior Chronicles by Cornwell. These books are highly entertaining set in the England to be of the 9th century.
    Faithful Place by Tana French. Crime Novel. Very, very clever.
    The Song of Troy by C McCullough A great retell of the Trojan War.
    A couple of crime novels: The Laughing Policeman & The Man on the Balcony by S Jowall & Wahloo (Henning Mankell's "Godparents")
    I'm re-reading my favourites chapters of El Quijote.
    Now, back to Hyperion...!
     
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  12. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I'm actually getting more interested in crime fiction, so I'll be checking out those titles you've listed.
     
  13. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I'm glad I could provide you with a couple of ideas you might like. It seems, it is always you giving away all the recommendations without getting much in return!
    S Jowall & Wahloo go back to the 1960s and I wouldn't call it exactly crime fiction per se. In Spanish we have to categories: Novela Policiaca(actually not sure how to translate it, maybe thriller?) there, you will have a crime that needs solving and a policeman/detective doing all the investigation legwork. Jöwall & Wahloo belong to this group. They are considered the creators of the modern Scandinavian Crime fiction genre.

    Tana French would belong to the Novela Negra. There you will have, apart from the "body and policeman", a much developed social background and 3/dimensional characters with all personal, professional interactions, weaknesses and faults. I like both genres; for me it is a question whether I am in the mood for red or white wine...
    You can read her books in the publishing order although is not strictly necessary. There are obviously overlapping characters that grow with each book but skipping the order wouldn't hinder the enjoyment of the reading.
    H Mankell is also very good except for the last couple of novels prior to his death, where I personally think he kind of lost the plot.
    Almost forgot! The Inspector Montalbano by Andrea Camilleri is another great series you might like.
     
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  14. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Hmm, I'm guessing it's called a Police Procedural in English? A type of story where detectives (usually in an official capacity) investigate crimes, and there is often more than one crime investigation going on at the same time, the other investigation usually headed by other detectives. Nice, I'll check out Jowall & Wahloo. I've heard that Sweden is particularly famous for its somewhat unique crime fiction (in prose and television format).
    Noir(e) fiction? Where characters are often not on the side of the law, are very jaded, often predatory, and both the tone of the story and the endings have an atmosphere of doom and gloom associated with them? Proper noir stories never end well for most of the characters. I'll also check out French, thanks.

    I've already got another crime novel lined up: Shella by Andrew Vachss. When I was searching for crime fiction and came across his name, it clicked with me even though I didn't recognise any of the novels. Then I saw that he had also written some Batman stories for DC back in the day and those were the ones I had read! That Batman story was very disturbing and very mature. But also well written. Pretty hardcore. I didn't want to pick up the first novel of his series, so I opted for one of his stand-alone works. Hopefully, it'll be good.
     
  15. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    No idea whether that is the right translation but it sounds good. The focus of these novels is definitely on the investigation process, the modus operandi, broken down to the smallest detail. Scandinavia and Sweden in particular, have been breeding crime fiction authors like bunnies in the last decade or so. Needless to say that many aren't worth the time of the day...
    You've got that right. I would only add that these novels usually end with the bad guys caught/dead but normally at high moral, personal price for the detectives.

    I haven't heard of him but will check it out.
     
  16. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

    The Vital Question, by Nick Lane
    The physics are a bit over my head, but still interesting enough.
     
  17. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    The first Jack Reacher book by Lee Child, Killing Floor, was surprisingly different from what I expected. I thought it would be a complete action-packed feature a la the Bourne books by Ludlum, but the tone was a lot more measured with a greater emphasis on the mystery and the deliberate, step-by-step solving of it. But it was still easy to read, the pace being brisk because of the interesting mystery and the terse writing with many short, declarative sentences. What I really liked was the evocation of a particular type of [Delta] Americana through the choice of Blues music - from Howlin' Wolf to John Lee Hooker et al. After finishing the novel, I checked up on Lee Child and learned that he's British, and this again surprised me because the mood of it all felt quite authentically American. Something else Child did very well was to impart this oppressive, Twilight Zone miasma to the setting. As the characters leave the town where most of the narrative takes place, there is a palpable feeling of relief, of a burden lifted. When they re-enter, the attitude transforms into a tense readiness for conflict and war. These transitional sequences were very well done.

    Also, the scenes of violence (3 major scenes before the climax) were undoubtedly savage, but my favourite ended up being the description of an ambush with almost no physical contact. At the same time, the climax almost had something of Frank Millar in it and reminded me of Dwight trying to take down a gargantuan Manute in A Dame to Kill For from the Sin City comics by Dark Horse.

    It takes the opposite tone to Ludlum's books or the recent screen adaptation with Tom Cruise. The more constrained tone of the novel actually reminded me of the books/movies A History of Violence and No Country for Old Men. I think the Cohen brothers would have been a good choice as directors to film a screen adaptation, and Viggo Mortensen would have made a better Jack Reacher. Then again, the Tom Cruise movie is an adaptation of book 10 or some such, so maybe the emphasis or the tone of the books change by then?

    I liked it. It was quite a bit of fun and I'll be picking up the sequel.
     
  18. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Started Andrew Vachss' Shella last night. What the hell, the first few sentences were like a punch to the stomach. This author writes more succinctly than any other writer I've read in recent memory except for perhaps Glen Cook.
     
  19. whateverls15

    whateverls15 New Member

    I'm reading Game of throne and watch the videos online too
     
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  20. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I'm back to one of my favourite Noir/Crime novelist Fred Vargas with Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand.
     

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