Posts Tagged ‘books’

The follow up to my last post is obviously my list for 2018 so here it is.

Books for 2018*

  1. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War – Max Brooks (Partial reread, audio book, Original full cast recording + “The Lost Files”)
    1. This is one I recommend constantly. It’s written and performed documentary style as a series of interviews by the author. The original cast recording cut a significant portion of the chapters, but following the debut of the film (which was terrible and had nothing to do with the book. They really should have done it the way they did the audio book.) they recorded the rest of the scenes. The cast is amazing, including: Mark Hammil, Alan Alda, Nathan Fillion, John Tututro, Martin Scorsese, Common, Simon Pegg, Henry Rollins, Rob Reiner, Kal Penn, Frank Darabont, and Masi Oka.
  2. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery (Feb)
    1. Nope, never read it. Delphi is appalled.
  3. Stardust – Neil Gaiman
    1. Saw the movie. Never read the book. Some easy going Gaiman as a break.
  4. To Kill a Mocking Bird – Harper Lee
    1. Are you picking up on a theme of childhood classics I never read
  5. The Man Who was Thursday – GK Chesterton
    1. Haven’t read GKC in ages and Girl got into him last year so I guess I’ll take another look.
  6. Interworld – Neil Gaiman
    1. No idea what this is or where it came from but it’s on my bookshelf. Might as well.
  7. The Stranger – Albert Camus(March)
    1. Left over from last year’s goals
  8. Jailbird – Kurt Vonnegut
    1. My Vonnegut for the year/see Camus
  9. A Wrinkle in Time – Madeline L’Engle
    1. See Lee
  10. Heart Shaped Box– Joe Hill
    1. Pushed hard by a friend
  11. American Splendour – Harvey Pekar (April)
    1. Been meaning to get around to this
  12. The Illustrated Man – Ray Bradbury
    1. One of my favourite authors. Taking my time getting though all his stuff before I run out.
  13. Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
    1. See Lee
  14. Beloved – Tony Morrison
    1. See Lee
  15. A Perfect Vacuum – Stanislaw Lem(may)
    1. Recommended by a trusted friend
  16. Suttree – Cormac McCarthy
    1. My McCarthy for the year
  17. Tender is the Night – F. Scot Fitzgerald (june)
    1. Really want to read some not Gatsby to see what I think of FSG outside of his most notable work.
  18. Iron Weed – William Kennedy
    1. Given to me by one of my favourite profs. Sr year, who said this was important in my growth as a writer. I should try reading it this decade.
  19. Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller
    1. Gotta get in all the other dirty old men, right?
  20. Labyrinths – Jorge Louis Borges (July)
    1. Apparently this is better than libraries which I found… eh
  21. Meditations – Marcus Aurelius
    1. My heavy reading for the year. Always thought it was a big hole in my classical learning.
  22. The Yiddish Detective Agency – Michael Chabon(August)
    1. I love Chabon. I should read more of his stuff. This is where people keep telling me to go next.
  23. The Once and Future King – TH White
    1. Bookshelf of shame. Pushed on me for ages by The Monk.
  24. Sandman Slim – Richard Kadrey (September)
    1. I traded reads with a co-worker.
  25. Blind Assassin/Madaddam – Margaret Atwood
    1. Not sure which I’ll go, but wanted another Atwood for the year
  26. Wind up Bird Chronicles – Haruki Murakami (October)
    1. I keep saying I’ll read more Murakami, this is the general recommendation. So far I’ve only got Norwegian Wood  and a handful of short stories, all of which I’ve loved.
  27. Catch 22 – Joseph Keller
    1. What even is this book? See Lee, see Bookshelf of shame
  28. The Curious Case of Dassoukine’s Trousers – Fouad Laroui (November)
    1. I wrote this down on my “Shit I should really read list”. No idea why or who recommended. So it’s at the bottom and probably wont make it.

 

Ongoing Comic Books, Audiobooks, and Shorts

  1. The Graphic Cannon Vol 2. – Various
    1. Selections of classic works illustrated by modern artists. Just to keep up some variety
  2. Homestuck Act 3-4 – Andrew Hussie
    1. Didn’t realize till writing this I’m almost done with act 2. All I’m asking of myself is to get through Act 3 but Act 4 would be nice as it is also the conclusion of Part 1, before starting Act 5: Act 1. It’s also halfway through Side One and most of the way through Disc 1… It’s confusing. The point is, acts one and two were 12.5K and 32K respectively, Three and four are 19.9K and 48.1K with a 9K intermission so… yeah, miles to go before I sleep.
  3. Saga 8-9 – Brian K Vaughan
  4. Sex Criminals 3-5 – Matt Fraction
  5. Lazarus 8-9 – Greg Rukka
  6. House of Mystery 5-6 – Bill Willingham and Lilah Sturges
  7. Dark Tower books 2-4 – Stephen King (audio book)
    1. I stopped at 3 last time. Gonna see if get through at least 4 (which is supposedly one of the best) and see where I fall with it.
  8. Parable of the Sower – Octavia Butler
    1. Wasn’t a HUGE fan of Kindred, but this came heavily recommended by several sources and is what I was looking for originally, so I’llgonna see if I feel different about it.
  9. Discworld, (The Colour of Magic – ???) – Terry Pratchett
    1. I think these may be Delphi and I’s next Audio book series for housework/road trips. I’ve read a few of them, but randomly and out of order. The ones I’ve read, I found fun and perfect for chowing through while traveling. I always meant to get around to more of them, so this will be a nice way to kill time while adulting.

 

That comes out to 36 entries. Again, it’s hard to be comparative here, but I’d say it’d be significantly more than last year, were I to get through it all. The main list is roughly in the order I intent to read them, so we’ll see how it goes.

* I wrote this list at the actual start of the year and I’ve already deviated from this list. Firstly, with Locke and Key by Joe Hill, which holyfuckballs, was that good. Definitely sold on reading Heart Shaped Box ASAP.

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Every year I put out a list of all the books I’m going to try to read, but I tend to forget about it fairly quickly. The list is usually thematic and always ambitious. I’ve never actually read the entire list for the year. There may be some rule that I keep to, but diverging from and not getting through the whole thing is inevitable. This doesn’t bother me, but I was curious as to what is realistic; so last year I started tracking the books I read as I went along to see how it matched up with my list from the start of the year.

Here it is. I’ll post my To Reads for 2018 later.

Books for 2017

  1. Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood
    1. Atwood fucking rocks. Not nearly as good as Handmaids Tale, but not nearly as bad as I have heard from some of it’s detractors. It’s the first of a trilogy, but I felt it was conclusive.
  2. Haunted – Chuck Palahniuk
    1. Way over hyped. I was wavering on CP as an author so asked my mates to suggest something to help make up my mind and I think they made a grave mistake. Basically, glorified torture porn wrapped up in poetic philosophy and if you try to start with me on the “yeah, that’s the point…” line, stuff it. It’s still a pile of wankish “look how upsetting I can be”, even if he can write real good.
  3. Human Being and of Citizen: Essays on Virtue, Freedom, and the Common Good – George Anastopalo
    1. Lent to me by Mister, who directed me to begin with a section on the role of “obscenity” in the social order (to grossly oversimplify: how should we address things which are obscene with regard to the rights of an individual’s expression versus the state’s obligation to the wellbeing of the citizenry.) and many more fun filled queries.
  4. The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfus
    1. One of those, enough people (most all my friend group and everyone one in my house) started hounding me about this I finally read it. It has restored my faith in the fantasy genre. Fuckin hell, it was good. For serial, go read.
  5. Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfus
    1. When I started Name of the Wind, I didn’t know the 250,000-word piece was the first of a series. I read it and subsequently it’s 400,000-word sequel inside a week, then went back to the bookstore for the third and final instalment, where I was told. “dude, I’m really sorry, but I’ve got some bad news for you.” To all my friends who got me started FUCK YOU! Why the fuck would you leave this pertinent piece of information out of your praise for the thing!? So I could join you in your anguished waiting??? So yeah, you should totally read it ASAP and let’s all sit outside Rothfuss’s house until 2021 which is when he says it will be out.
  6. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
    1. Another book I read due to popular consensus. Again, proving that there is new worthwhile scifi being written.
  7. A Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula K LeGuine
    1. One of the seminal works of modern fantasy, I finally made myself read it. I can see how it influenced many younger writers, but… and I know this is going to be very unpopular, I wasn’t terribly enthused by it. Rothfuss took the same plot and did a better job with it. I know, I’m a monster.
  8. Love in the time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    1. Me and Delphi have a book at a time we read to each other (it takes a while). This was last year’s. not my favourite GGM (perhaps I’ve grown old and cynical, cause I felt the absolute devotion of certain parties to be dumb), but he’s still a brilliant fucking writer.
  9. Game of Thrones – George RR martin (audio book)
    1. Along with book 2 of the series, I listened to most of them on audio with Delphi. She went through all 5, but I heard less and less of them as she listed on her way to and from work more and more, which I was totally fine with. The show is better. Sorry, but it’s true.
  10. Clash of Kings – George RR martin
  11. Norse Gods – Neil Gaiman
    1. My Gaiman for the year. It’s good. Worth it if you like Norse Myths or Gaimen.
  12. Sex Criminals Volume 2 – Matt Fraction
    1. This is a fucking hilarious and fun series. Not sure if it will keep up, but will see
  13. Love, Dishonor, Mary, Die; Cherish, Perish, A Novel by – David Rakoff
    1. Also one Delphi and I read to each other. A novel written in verse (specifically, mimicking Dr Seuss) tying the lives of a number of individuals together across generations. Very Funny, amazingly executed.
  14. The Gunslinger – Stephen King (audio book)
    1. Rereading after much discussions of the DT series and how it connects to King’s work as a whole. I never got past book three in HS. I got bored, but I’m giving it a second chance in light of a number of conversations I had following the cluster fuck that was the recent film adaptation.
  15. Homestuck Act 1-2 – Andrew Hussie
    1. Let me tell you about Homestuck, begins the meme. “The Ulysses of the internet” (see PBS’s Idea Channel episode on the matter to get excited about it). I started it as part of a project I was working on and one day I’ll finish it. If you think it’s weird for me to include a web comic here, it’s over ten thousand pages and 875,500 words long (about the combined length of Song of Ice and Fire, Infinite Jest, and Ulysses). And that doesn’t include many of the tangential ‘spinoff’ stories that come with it or the 4.5 hours of video.
  16. Shop Class as Soul Craft – Mathew Crawford
    1. Another gift from Mister. Seriously good meditation on the value of labour and learning. Every time I start to explain it people say “oh, like Zen and the Art of Mo…” not at all.
  17. The Incest Diary – Anonymous
    1. Honest and fucked up. Worth absolutely not reading if you have any sense of decency, which I don’t.
  18. The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfus (reread, Audio book)
    1. Reread these as audio books with Delphi on a road trip
  19. Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfus (reread, Audio book)
    1. See above
  20. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline (reread, Audio book, Nar. Wil Wheton)
    1. See above
  21. Molly’s Game – Molly Bloom (audio book)
    1. It passes the time. If yr enough into that sort of thing. Looking forward to seeing the Sorkin movie.
  22. Special Topics in Calamity Physics – Marisha Pessl
    1. A gift from a new friend. It’s a good book.
  23. The Master and the Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
    1. Long overdue read from the bookshelf of shame
  24. Libraries – Jorge Louis Borges
    1. See above. Finally reading some ground-breaking magical realism after having my own work described as such for years.
  25. Chew 1-3 – Don Layman
    1. Been told about it for years. Finally read a bunch off the shelf at Barnes and Nobel. Good stuff. Can’t wait to read more
  26. Lazerus 4-7 – Greg Rukka
    1. The brilliant fucking bastard behind Queen and Country (one of my all time favourites) does it again.
  27. Saga 4-6 – Brian K Vaughan
    1. It’s BKV and it’s super popular, what else is there to say?

That makes 27 entries. There’s peoples a plenty who get really hung up on how many books they read in a year, it’s difficult to quantify reading as some books are longer, some are very short, some are easy, some are super dense, etc. I would like to have gotten more, but that’s because I would like to/should spend more of my time reading. In all, I find it to have been a perfectly adequate amount of written word to consume for an average person.

clearing out a bunch of old stuff.

 

I’m at Old Buck’s Eyebrow. How’s that for a name? I’ll have to inquire about its origin. Oh, and I totally forgot to find out about the frog butler.

Christmas Cove, some island near South Bristol, Maine. All I can hear is in my head is

—what about Maine? Have you ever been to Maine? Stephen King Lives in Maine. It’s wonderful, plenty of those creepy little islands

Best part of the trip is reading. Everyone up here is reading and leaving each other the fuck alone.

I lost track of days. Today is the first day of fog. Delphi says we lucked out with the weather, but I like it this way. Feels familiar. I can sit out in the mist without the sun beating down too hard. On the porch with a beer and tea and chocolates and addy.

I am too indulgent with myself. I take one of the big chocolates, the one I know is toffee and eat it in two bites. It makes my teeth hurt, churns my stomach. Too sweet for me. I grin and lick off the bits stuck on my lips.

For the girls I will cut them into thirds so they can share, put them on a little plate for tea cakes. There are so many plates and cups in this house. I want to eat off of all of them before I go.

Every time I sit, all that’s in front of me is descent. I dread the fuckin thing now. Each day the damn book get heavier, but I have to finish it before too much new business.

Reading Garner make me think to my own Grendel. She’s been waiting for me since college, but I push aside those sentences. Goddamnit I HAVE to finish at lease CAGE this weekend. Sarah is waiting.

Everyone is waiting on me.

Fog pulls back a little and I can see Crow Island again, but nothing else. Ospreys in a line and a boat out at the lobster buoys.

At least I’m getting up earlier.

Plenty of daylight left

Cage cage cage cage cage… through the dying firelight. Keep moving. Write more tomorrow.

At a used bookstore in… forgot the name. where I bought Evangeline, also picked up a copy of Blind Assassin, a collection of DH Lawrence stories, a collection of Italian Folk Tales by Calvino (this would make a perfect gift for the padre, but fuck it, I’m selfish), a collection called Officer Friendly by someone I knew briefly at Iowa.

Those shelves need filling and I’m pretty sure a box of books was lost pulled out four crates from the garage in Dallas and couldn’t find what I was looking for. Oh well.

Maybe the new bookcases are just making me feel small.

Fuck this noise.

I’m going for a walk.

 

 

Hey there friends. Doing a bit of a check in today. I got back from travelling this week. Spent this one catching up on writing and other work, but mostly reading. Finished Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Holy shit, this book was good, can’t wait to read more by her. Who would’ve known she could predict a Huckabee/Santorum ticket. Pulp by Bukowski was fun. I reread Evangeline (though I guess that’s technically a long poem) which I haven’t read since I was in seventh grated, long before words like Acadia or Nova Scotia or New Orleans meant anything to me, and the name Longfellow was just a lame punchline.

As several people have pointed out, the site address has changed. The only address that now works is bloggingsofadirtyoldman.com. I was told that some readers kept getting a message saying it had expired on both sites. I still don’t know why you all were seeing that, but I finally got that resolved. So it should be working fine now. Also, links on Facebook/twitter/etc… should be working as well.

Finally, after that thing I told you about back here. There has been a pretty big outpouring of support… and I have blown off most of it.

So, sorry if I haven’t acknowledged some of your individual messages. I’m generally pretty uncomfortable talking about those sorts of things and I really don’t know how to respond to support appropriately. I will attempt to get back to everyone soon, but for now. Thank you. Your messages have helped me pull my shit together. And that is all I will say on the matter.

I also started a Tumbler link here. I’m trying to keep up with you kids and your new fangledness. I’m not sure how exactly to work it just yet, but I’ll try to pick up some steam there soon. It seems like a good inbetweeny medium. I’ll probably post a some stuff there next week and I’ll feel better about posting shorter content there. I think I may start posting some old stuff there just to see what happens. I know many of the people reading lately are somewhat new, so this will give some of you the chance to read some of the better older pieces without having to dig through the archives here.

We will be back to your regular programming presently.

 

A few other things. Books picked up, The Hunting Accident by David Carlson & Landis Blair, Art Speiglman’s In the Shaddow of No Towers, and Watership Down. I’m also going to pick up something for the trip to Maine with Delphi, so I’m taking Joan of Arc and Grapes of Wrath off the list. Grendel is down and Stranger in a Strange Land is next.

Kickstarter: Ok there has been some progress lately. I’m sending off my edited draft to my friend Ms Royal, who is going to be doing the final mark up. When she gets done I’ll just be tweaking the final draft.

I’m trying to use some contacts from work to find a good printer for the limited run. Also trying to decide on some extra goodies to throw in as rewards for your patience.

There is one person who didn’t claim their lunch rewards. So, you know who you are, I have not forgotten and I will find a time when I am doing the mailing/signing for you to come by my office for a drink.

I’ve been putting this post off for a while now and by a while I mean since January 2014.

I meant to write about it, but I didn’t. I meant to get around to it, when I had more time to think about to talk it out a bit with myself like I usually do, but I didn’t. The year passed and then about a month ago something starts floating around the internets.

Readers, Challenge oneself to go a whole year without reading anything written by cis-straight-white men.

My first reaction was —GO A WHOLE YEAR WITHOUT VONNEGUT! That’s insane!

The post got passed around and got a bunch of people up in a huff. I won’t delve any further on that front, but it reminded me of the conversation that got me started on this a year ago and my desire to try and work those thoughts out on paper.

I’ve been putting this piece off mostly because I don’t know how to talk about it. At least not on the internet, not with strangers, not without sounding like a total asshole. So I hope you’ll excuse anything I say out of ignorance. So I’m just going to be honest and vulnerable and ramble for a bit. Unlike my other cultural/political rants I put up here I ‘m not trying to make a point

It started at a going away party for a friend. The friend introduced me to someone

—You two will love each other. She’s a writer as well

And we did get along quite swimmingly. Of course, we got into the typical what are you reading who are your favorites bullshit.

She told me hers I told her mine and then she said

—ah, of course, all of the old white men

Instinctively, took a bit of an offence. I wanted to cleverly refute the implication, but then I got home and looked at my bookshelf. The list I gave that night probably wouldn’t surprise many of you, writers like Vonnegut, Cormac McCarthy, Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, Hunter S Thompson (I should note, however obviously, that this blog is called Bloggings of a Dirty Old Man not only in order to set a certain tone, but is also a reference to Charles Bukowski.).

This is my reading list for 2015

Among the 35 books on that list the ones that aren’t written by white men can be counted on one hand. A total of five if you include Murakami, but I don’t because he’s basically a Japanese white man.

I’m of several minds about the matter.

First, my defense

The novel itself is a western invention (Yes, I know, but before you start on the whole Pillow Book line, let me stop you, I’m not going to go down that path this round. There’s enough to address on the table already.), it’s beginning usually accredited to Cervantes. For ages women were kept out of that sphere, and pretty much all other matters of import, so for a good long stretch of publication history, women publishing novels just didn’t happen often. In America, people of color and women were not allowed to vote or even learn to read (and other stuff which I will now grossly simplify as patriarchypatriarcypatriarchy).So when talking about the whole cannon of fiction novels, there is just an overwhelming number favor for white men.

Next, proximity. We tend to read and enjoy more of what feels familiar to us, (same goes for music, movies etc) I take an authors that I like and see what they read, and so on. Or I wait until a mathematical quotient of recommendations are met (see paragraph two here)

In short I don’t really ever seek out new works. I already have a huge stack of things to read, so I don’t need to. Anything else that ends up in my hands comes to me through one of these methods.

So I’m not the racist, sexist one, right? It’s all those other people telling me what to read. It’s my schools’ fault for not teaching a more diverse cannon.

I’ll get to more of this later, but as a writers, it’s total bullshit to try and put myself in such a passive role when it comes to what I read. The shot of it is, it’s the patriarchy’s fault as a whole, because Society popularized those books. In the words of John Green “I am a white man in a society that tends to reward maleness and whiteness”

I didn’t read Gatsby or Huck Finn or Dickens because I chose to fill my head with the words of only white men. I did it because that is what was provided to me as a child and as I grew I sought out other work that felt familiar.

But now I am grown and I’m a professional writer. Which makes me a professional reader. That excuse is no longer valid

Jay Smooth, I feel has a fairly good take on this in what he calls learning the craft of being good

Like Jay, I often feel that MRA/redpill gut reaction of stop making me feel ashamed for being a white male and liking art by other white men, especially because the truth is, when it comes to non-fiction media I follow plenty of not white men. I want to defend myself in a similar argument to but I have black friends so it’s cool.

My RSS/twitter/youtube subscriptions includes a Dan savage, Bret Easton Ellis, Hannah hart, Laci green, Jay smooth, Meg Turney, Stoya, Laurie Penny, what’s her face from black girl dangerous, Molly Crabapple, Coke Talk, Holly Pervocacy, and more (admittedly mostly more white women), just to mansplain a little.

Somehow though, when it comes to writers of fiction, that number drops substantially, racking my brain for this post, the only black authors I know I’ve even read are Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, August Wilson and only one of them was a novelist. There may be more, but not that I can think of in the hour it’s taken me to write this so far.

The woman at the party quickly listed off a number of people I don’t remember cause it was over a year ago and said I should make sure to read all of them. She told me I needed to work on seeking out more diverse authors because it was the right thing to do, it’s make me a better person. With that she put me on the defensive again as she was suggesting I was doing something wrong, by reading what I liked.

More importantly than my own ego however, what concerned me about this line of thought comes back to the title of this post, Pigeonholing.

Bret Easton Ellis, a writer of whom I am a fan, didn’t come out as gay until well into his career. Partially, perhaps because he feared it would hurt his ability to sell books, but according to him, most of the reason he didn’t come out was because he didn’t want his work filed under Gay literature. He didn’t want to be known as a leading queer author. He wanted to be known as a great American author.

I agree with Ellis. I don’t think anyone would categorize American Psycho as gay literature. I don’t think Rules of Attraction is the best candidate for a queer studies curriculum. So does Ellis’s work meet the criteria of the tumbler Social Justice Warrior challenge?

Would his books count before he came out? Does his coming out retroactively make them count, or does his work only count if it was published after he came out publicly?

I think Ellis’s is a totally fair choice and his prerogative as an artist. It makes me ask, when we seek out diversity for its own sake, are we not simultaneously restricting those artists by categorizing them by a single attribute?

(I know there are other authors, black authors, women authors, who have felt the same way, but I use Ellis as an example because He’s the most mainstream and could pass as a white man.)

All the not white men authors I’ve read I read for the same reason I read anything. So if I do go out of my way to get more diverse authors on my list for the year, what does it cost me? I can only read so much in my time here on earth, so what books that I want to read, or authors I love, do I have to give up to be ‘a good person’ or at least, a better person (This of course is the kind of logic that got Edward Norton’s Character started in American History X.) Yet at the same time one of the reasons I think literature is important is that it teaches us empathy.

When you read you see the world from the point of view of someone different from yourself. You realize that everyone else in the world is their own set of biases and emotions and opinions and other complexities. For those however many thousand words you become someone else and my hope is that when we come out the other side we see other people with a little more depth.

Back to my conversation with the woman at the party.

—How about Invisible Man? That’s one of my favorite books.

—Did you read that for school?

—Yeah.

—Exactly, doesn’t count

I read Invisible Man in high school and I loved it. It’s one of my favorite novels. I loved the writing, the storytelling, but what I remember most is the Narrator, his anger and discontent, his struggle to accept himself and his background, all while trying to play by the rules of a modern cosmopolitan racist society.

One of the reasons it was important to me was it was the first time I’d ever read a novel by a black person. I had studied speeches, poetry, learned about the civil rights movement in history. I had black friends, even the man that served as my surrogate father was black, but for me, it took a novel to begin to understand what it meant to be black in America.

This is why we first teach children about the Holocaust with Night and Number the Stars instead of just showing them black and whites of crematoriums. As an adult, the account that has meant the most to me was Maus. Fiction, or comic books, or theatre, or poetry or whatever, plays and important role in our cultural dialogue.

Invisible Man changed me in a fundamental way and helped me grow as a person (Later, when I went on to study theatre at university August Wilson became a favorite playwright of mine, again because a teacher assigned Fences to us.).

I don’t know what else my English teacher had on the curriculum beforehand. I don’t know if he picked it because he liked it or because he thought or was told he had to have a black author on the syllabus, but I certainly benefited from it.

This discussion also seems strange to me because I will often yell about how Hollywood doesn’t make movies with women or people of color as superheroes. I’m genuinely excited about the new Ms Marvel and Thor. I did bought the trade paperbacks when they came out even though I’ve never read either title before, when I could have bought the next DMZ or House of Mystery instead.

I don’t know what it is about fiction specifically that makes me go

—…eh, I got other shit to read.

And I don’t know why of all things I get defensive about my reading habits and my list. But I do.

Like Jay Smooth, I try to practice being good.

This comes back to why I put off writing about this for so long. I don’t want to think about it. Because, like everyone else, I want to see myself as the good guy. I don’t want to acknowledge any biases or shortcomings especially when those failings are steeped in institutional racism and misogyny that, for however much “I didn’t do it”, is furthered by my own tacit complicity in a system that advantages me.

We should self-evaluate. And we should acknowledge when we have weaknesses. It’s the foundation of my belief in science. It’s the only way we can change the world for the better. As a writer, this specifically should be something I should think about it.

For now I’ll leave with this.

On my list for this year I have the following non-white men books:

Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula K Le Guin

The Handmaidens Tale – Margaret Atwood

Bel Canto – Anne Pratchet

Beloved – Toni Morrison

I don’t think I’ll make the whole35 for the year now that writing and reading things is a full time job for me, but these four will get a little boost in priority.

For next year, I’m not going to go the whole hog with the challenge (I’m not going to go a whole year without something by Vonnegut, Gaiman, Thompson or Bukowski when I’ve still so much left to read), but I’d like to make sure at least half of what goes on the list are by women or people of color (it beats the roughly ten percent mark from this year). Here’s what I’m putting on so far, feel free to add your suggestions in the comments or message me.

Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K Le Guin

The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood

A Visit from the Goon Squad – Jennifer Eagan

The Color Purple – Alice Walker

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Go Set a Watchman (if I like Mockingbird) – Harper Lee

Things Fall Apart –Chinua Achebe

The motherfucking Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

Native Son – Richard Wright

The Dispossessed (if I like Left Hand of Darkness) – Ursula K Le Guin

Go Tell it on the Mountain – James Baldwin

Interview with a Vampire – Anne Rice

Hey all it’s time for another round of vocab. It’s been a while since I put one of these up. The last few books I read were either audio or belonged to a friend so I wasn’t able to mark it up and come back to it later.

Anyhow, this round we’ve got another one by Neil Gaiman, Trigger Warning.

For anyone new to this, I like marking up my books as I read them. When I finish something I sometimes post a bit of what I’ve marked. It’s usually either, words I didn’t know or words I think are not used often enough, cultural references, and words I think are worth sharing.

 

 

What we learn about ourselves in those moments, where the trigger has been squeezed, is this: the past is not dead. There are things that wait for us, patiently, in the dark corridors of our lives.

 

Desiccate – to dry out; often for the purposes of preserving

 

Are Fictions safe places? …Should they be safe places?

 

Alec – a somewhat autobiographical comic book by Eddie Campbell

 

Grand Guignol – “the theatre of the big puppet” a theatre in Paris popular in the early 20th century. Known for their particularly grotesque and horrifying work.

 

Hebrides – archipelago off the coast of Scotland

 

Did you know May the third was the day that the devil was cast out of heaven, and thus the day on which it is unpardonable to commit a crime?

 

Imitable – capable or worthy of being imitated

 

Ruminant – an animal with more than one stomach, like sheep or cows

 

The finest things I have seen are dead places.

 

Awl – a metal spike for punching holes in leather

 

Whirligig – pinwheel

 

Ducks don’t like socks, they said, it’s a duck thing

 

Inveigh – to rail against something, or communicate with great hostility in regards to

 

Lassitude – physical and mental weariness

 

Apiary – where bees/beehives are kept

 

Punctilious – showing great attention to detail, particularly regarding correct conduct

 

I sometimes imagine I would like my ashes to be scattered in a library. But then the librarians would just have to come in early the next morning to sweep them up again

 

Okapi – a mammal native to central Africa, kinda like a giraffe but zebra type stripes on their legs and ass and… well here’s a picture.

 

 

Jack Benny – vaudevillian comic from the early to mid-20th century

 

Ducal – relating to a Duke

 

Quiescent – inactive, dormant

 

She was waiting for him, in the place where flowers die.

 

Reynard – fox (French), or a trickster character from a French fables

 

Shighthound – hounds that hunt by sight and speed rather than scent and endurance.

 

Drystone – style of construction popular Northern Britain and Western Ireland, in which stones are interlocked without mortar

 

Hawthorn – a tree, it looks like this

Shows up in folklore, as the entrance to the otherworld, also as the crown of thorns used on Jesus.

 

Secateurs – pruning clippers

 

Obverse – the ‘heads’ side of a coin. The counterpart of a fact.

 

Druids, Norse, Catholics, Protestants, doesn’t matter. That’s what people pay lip service to. The old religion is what gets the crops up and keeps your cock hard and makes sure that nobody builds a bloody great motorway through an area of outstanding beauty.

 

Pusillanimous – timid, lacking in courage