Books for February
Nevertheless, a cut-tag, because this is long.
Edited because I posted it unfinished because Netscape was being a pain.
You've Had Your Time Anthony Burgess. First re-read. Second half of his autobiography. Worth reading if you like Burgess's prose style. He's hard to like as a person. There's less useful stuff about writing in this than the first half, but I enjoyed it.
The Embriodered Sunset Joan Aiken. Second re-read of library copy. It's one of her really weird gothics, in which (spoiler) the hero is dying, the heroine actually dies, lots of it is very funny, the conventions of gothics get pretzelised, and I love it to bits.
Good Omens Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. First re-read. I read this because I had a headache and I was lying down in the bedroom and it was the most appealing thing on Rysmiel's shelves, which are in there. It's good to read when you're not well. It fails to be a good book by a narrow margin -- essentially it requires the equivalent of deus ex machina to characterisation to make the plot work. It's a romp about Armageddon, silly in places, actually funny here and there, and with a great angel/demon friendship.
Only You Can Save Mankind Terry Pratchett. Re-read, third or fourth. Zorinth was home by this time, and brought me the three of these, which live in his room. These are all excellent, this one is my favourite, because I identify with Kirsty so much.
Johnny and the Dead Terry Pratchett. Ditto. Maybe the weakest, but still good.
Johnny and the Bomb Terry Pratchett. One of the best time travel novels ever.
Most Secret Nevil Shute. Third re-read. One of his weakest, but consequently not read to death.
The Great Good Thing Roderick Townley. Rysmiel brought this back from San Francisco, where it was given to him by a friend, and we've all three enjoyed it. It's a very sweet children's book about stories, writing, memory, and how things connect together. I'd recommend it highly, especially to people who write. It apparently has a sequel, which seems to me utterly unnecessary as a concept.
The Rainbow Abyss Barbara Hambly. Nth re-read. I had some really good reason for reading it, which I have now forgotten. If I can keep firmly in mind that There Is No Sequel, it remains one of Hambly's best, with terrific and admirable worldbuilding.
The Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkien. Nth re-read. Read in preparation for the Gollum panel in Boskone. I was hoping to read LOTR afterwards, but it still isn't possible. I must not re-read things too much. Anyway, TH was as good as ever.
Something of Myself Rudyard Kipling. Autobiography. Research for a story of truepenny's. No, actually I'd been planning to read it for ages. Very good. He used to memorise his writing and then write it down when it was fixed and right in his head. I'd often wondered how people managed at tech level, and that's what I'd have had to do. I am so glad I have Protext!
The Dragons of Springplace Robert Reed. A small press collection, Golden Gryphon Press, which I talked myself into buying in hardback at Boskone on the grounds that I'd have bought at F&SF for each of them, and so I was saving money really. Reed is terrific, and he's at his best at novella length. Real SF, ideas, writing, everything.
Death of a Unicorn Peter Dickinson. Nth re-read, re-read to check something coffeeandink said. She was right, the revolting first person protagonist does indeed try to justify her thuggish boyfriend's unjustifiable behaviour. Nevertheless, I like this book a great deal as a piece of writing.
The Pickup Artist Terry Bisson. Magic realist SF satire, with stunning prose, good characterisations and beautiful imagery. No, it doesn't really make sense, no, I don't actually care. Bisson is marvellous. This is more like Talking Man than anything else. I wish he'd write a real American fantasy. But I will read whatever he writes.
Sleeping with Cats Marge Piercy. Memoir, just out in paperback. Oddly, through years of reading Piercy's fiction and poetry, I felt as if I knew most of this already. The emotional weight had all come through before. I enjoyed it, but not as much as I was expecting to. I wish she'd written another novel instead. There's some excellent poetry in it, but I already had all of it.
The Town in Bloom Dodie Smith. Third re-read, but the first was so long ago it barely counts. None of Dodie Smith's other books are as good as I Capture the Castle but they're still really good. This one has one of the weirdest endings of anything I've ever read. I'd love to talk about it if anyone has read it. It's about four women meeting, or not meeting, in 1965, who were close in 1925. Having said that, throw away your pre-conceptions, because it isn't like that at all. I wonder if it's possible it might have been an influence on The Robber Bride, not that it's like that either.
Go Saddle the Sea Joan Aiken. Zorinth lent this to me saying it was brilliant, about two years ago, and I've finally got around to reading it. It was OK, but I didn't see what it was that made it shine so brightly for him.
Knight Moves Walter Jon Williams. Re-read. The best Roger Zelazny book anyone that wasn't Zelazny ever wrote. If you have read This Immortal and Isle of the dead so many times you have them tattooed on the inside of your head, Knight Moves is a delightful variation on a theme. Other people might say things like "derivative", but personally I'll read all the good Zelazny I can get, no matter who writes it. At the beginning of his career, Williams was a chameleon, and no shame to him.
I fear I may have forgotten some, but that's all I can remember at present. Maybe I should do this as I go along.