January 2018 books read

  • Mister God, This is Anna – “Fynn”, 1975. I first read this in my grandmother’s collection, probably not long after it came out. She presumably got it or liked it because it’s “Christian,” but it isn’t very… more a weird mix of metaphysics, math, and Cockney life. Before the Internet I looked but couldn’t find much information; now there’s a site devoted to MGTIA and its author, Sydney George Hopkins.
  • Master Frisky
    Master Frisky, Clarence Hawkes’ dog

    Hitting the Dark Trail (1915); Master Frisky (1902) – Clarence Hawkes. I started a Hawkes kick in December because he’s a local author, and they’re interesting for that reason, but otherwise not very good. There’s more on his blindness in Dark Trail, but not much, and a lot of things that are confusing (he does a lot of research by studying maps? how? No mention of them being relief maps, and where would he get those? It may be that by “I” he means “me and my wife?”) And Frisky, about his adorable collie, wanders all over the place, with plenty of misbehaving-but-cute-youngster-ends-up-dead anecdotes which characterize early moralizing tales.

  • The Selfish Gene – Richard Dawkins, 2016 (4th edition; first was 1976)
  • The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead, 2016
  • Four Day’s Wonder – A. A. Milne, 1933. Cute and silly mystery.
  • Literary Wonderlands: A Journey Through the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created – ed. Laura Miller, 2016
  • Moby-Dick; or, The Whale – Herman Melville, 1851
  • D’Aulaire’s Book of Norse Myths – Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire, 1967. I read most of this in a bookstore—I think Shakespeare and Co. in Paris!–enchanted by the colorful lithograph-looking illustrations (the jacked says they used acetate sheets) but unable to justify the price. Still beautiful and interesting, and the new introduction by Michael Chabon is great.
  • How to Read Nancy: The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels – Paul Karasik & Mark Newgarden, 2017
  • The Lathe of Heaven – Ursula K. Le Guin. Re-read in honor of her death. A perfect novel in every way.
  • Roadside Picnic – Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, 1971. Read to discuss Stalker at the Forbes Far Out Film Discussion. It’s not as unlike the movie as Tarkovsky claims, but enough unlike that I wish I hadn’t read it before watching, as it threw off a lot of my reactions. Interesting conceit but I didn’t care much for it–a little too “just so.”

Literary Wonderlands: A Journey Through the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created – ed. Laura Miller, 2016

I love books-about-books, classic fantasy illustrations, and Laura Miller, so this was perfect for me. It’s a two to four page spread on each of several dozen books, in the categories Ancient Myth & Legend, Science and Romanticism, Golden Age of Fantasy, New World Order, and The Computer Age. There’s a brief essay on the book, first publication information (which is cool and not often mentioned), the original cover or a photo of the earliest tablet/papyrus etc., a portrait of the author if applicable, and lots of supporting graphics—illustrations, art, maps, ephemera, etc. It’s a beautiful book. I’ve read most of the works mentioned, but there were several I’d never heard of and want to check out:

  • The City of the Sun – Tommaso Campanella, 1602
  • The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing-World – Margaret Cavendish, 1666
  • The Journey of Niels Klim to the World Underground – Ludvig Holberg, 1741
  • Alamut – Vladimir Bartol, 1938
  • Pedro Paramo – Juan Rulfo, 1955
  • W or the Memory of Childhood – Georges Perec, 1975
  • Egalia’s Daughters – Gerd Brantenberg, 1977
  • Obabakoak – Bernardo Atxaga, 1988
  • Wizard of the CrowNgũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 2006
  • The Man with the Compound Eyes – Wu Ming-Yi, 2011
  • The Imperial Radch Trilogy – Ann Leckie, 2013-15
  • Lagoon – Nnedi Okarafor, 2014

Plus reminding me of a bunch of authors/books I haven’t yet read and want to, like China Mievelle, Orlando Furioso, Cloud Atlas, etc.