Apparently “hauls” are a thing? So obviously, as a zeitgeist-chasing millennial, it is my genetic prerogative to haul my ass onto this moving bandwagon.
So today I went to the library to get out more books I won’t read out of guilt for not working on my masters thesis instead, but I also bought some. I bought 3, to be exact, for $1 at my local library, and even The Book Depository can’t top that.
The culprits are:
English Grammar Essentials for Dummies, by Wendy M Anderson, Geraldine Woods and Lesley J Ward. It may shock you to know this, but I, a physically mature human person with a major in English and who has spent half of his life deluding himself into trying to Be A Writer, do not know jack fuck about grammar. This book has 1 rating on Goodreads – 2 stars – but given that there are no issues of gender representation to complain about or abusive male love-interests to swoon over I’m surprised it has a Goodreads rating at all. And since they didn’t have “Eats, Shoots and Leaves”, this will just have to do.
The Swan Maiden, by Jules Watson. Swan maiden? Check. Irish folklore? Check. Less that 34 cents? Ch-fucking-eck. (Honestly I think grammar may be the least of my worries.) I randomly flipped to a page while I was looking it over and landed on this passage: “The woman’s skin was dove-soft, the man’s faintly tanned. Young and unlined. The hand reverently hefted the pale globe, the thumb brushing its dark centre. A scattering of gooseflesh rose in its wake and the nipple stood up, swollen …” (51) So … pretty much what I was expecting. Though maybe not “reverently hefted the pale globe”; that sounds like a Thesaurus moment. But in any case, seeing as I’m interested in Irish folklore and swan maidens – thematic cousins of the seal maidens; the Irish sure do like their shape-shifting ladies – I can at least try to tolerate some awkward prose.
(Also why is the woman’s soft skin compared to the colour of the man’s? Other than, y’know, racism.)
Grimm Tales for Young and Old, by Philip Pullman. I saw “Grimm Tales” and “Philip Pullman” and thought “while I have some tonal issues with the His Dark Materials trilogy – namely how the third book ruined everything I liked about the story – I respect Philip Pullman a lot as a writer and storyteller, and it is always fascinating to see what good writers have to say about the stories that form the conceptual bedrock that informs our storytelling culture”, and after I caught my breath I bought it. There’s 50 stories in here apparently, and at the end there’s all this information like “tale type”, “source”, “similar stories”, and then a little summary by Pullman of what he thinks of the story and what adjustments he’s made in his retelling of it. Looking forward to breaking into it.
I also meant to write a review of The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle, because that was the last library book that I actually read and really enjoyed. It’s good. I like my High Fantasy either focused on characters over lore and world-building, or written like a fairytale, where the story, rather than realism, justifies everything – The Last Unicorn happens to be both of these, so yeah, I liked it. Surprisingly good on the gender representation front as well, actually, considering this is both High Fantasy written by a dude and written in 1968. You should check it out sometime.
Currently I’m sitting on the library book I was not-reading before I went out and got another three today: Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac, a YA sci-fi dystopian novel featuring an Apache heroine, written by an Abenaki Native American author (though he’s also Slovakian and English, apparently). I read 2 pages and couldn’t be fucked, but that’s guilt-fatigue talking. From tomorrow onwards I am working towards doing All The Things, because I’d like that to become a habit of mine. So it’ll be article-reading to build up my annotated bibliography, plus reading books for pleasure, plus probably going to see a bunch of movies, plus doing whatever my own stuff is … you know the drill. Any and all of The Things will be done in this the fourth age of this world the age of men as in humans not men specifically although considering how LoTR panned out it may as well have been amirite –
Yes, well, I also have:
Who Fears Death and Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor. It’s fantasy, or possibly sci-fi, or possibly both, and its not written by a white guy. I got one chapter in Lagoon either earlier this year or late last year and really regretted not finishing it, so this is my redemption lap; and Who Fears Death just sounds like the kind of Hero’s Journey archetypal awesome that I adore, only with Nigerian mythology to inform it rather than … well, to be fair, the Hero’s Journeys I like often use a lot of Eastern philosophy, but I know absolutely nothing about African mythology or folklore so I’m really looking forward to getting a glimpse at it.
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. The closest thing to steampunk I’ve ever read was Perdido St. Station by China Mieville, which took me 6 months to finish, and during those 6 months I also finished 3 other, better books. Though saying a book is better than Perdido St. Station is not saying much. Not for me anyway; it was tedious, long-winded, pretentious, transparently Marxist (I have no problem with Marxism but if you’re going to slip it into your fiction writing then at least get a fucking imagination), and half of the book – I am pretty sure I’m not actually exaggerating – was taken up with exposition about the fucking city that the story took place in. And don’t get me wrong, if you’re somebody who wants worldbuilding and nothing but, give this one a go. But you’d better be very fucking serious about the “nothing but” part; there are some very cool ideas in this book and it was just so sterile and dry that I couldn’t bring myself to care about any of them. I need story; I need characters. Not my cup of tea.
On the other hand, Boneshaker – don’t read Goodreads for a consensus on any given book, but it sounds like it could be enjoyable if not brilliant. And, again, steampunk. Always wanted to see what the fuss was all about, and this one has something that I’ve wanted to see ever since Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t give it to me: the Adventure Mom, the mother character who, instead of dying off-screen or waiting at home for the hero to return, actually takes part in the grand adventure. So I hope that part of it is satisfying. And if it’s not I’ll just rip it off and make it better anyway. Either way, something to look forward to.
My own writing has not gone spectacularly well today, in fact it’s gone absolutely nowhere. But hey, it happens. Might force myself to write those 200 words per day after this post; might count this post as my daily writing, because it’s over 1k words, even though that goes against my rules. But maybe my rules are stupid. In fact, yes, they are stupid. I can write whatever I want, whenever I want.
I just want this fucking novel to be finished oh my god why why can’t it be over and done with maybe I should actually just move on to the next thing this is taking so fucking long and I just maybe I don’t have the experience necessary to make this particular story work so maybe it’d be better to go on to the next thing and apply what I’ve learnt to something that has a better chance of succeeding from the outset however much I would like Tallulah to be my first published book ARGH so infuriating. It is really infuriating to not have a thing done, just sitting there open and unfinished. Kind of like most of the books I get out of the library these days.
Ah well. I’ll work something out. In the meantime, just gotta do all the things. Life is so much easier when you just force yourself to do all the things.
I think I will write those 200 words after all.