Sunday Lowdown #8

Happy March 31st, everyone! Just as a heads up, I’m no longer going to do the start-of-the-month post in which I tell you the books on my schedule. I will instead provide that same info in my Sunday Lowdown posts. No need to overload you guys with too many posts.

This Week in Reading: Finished Books

Destroying Angel by Missy Wilkinson: a young adult novel about a girl named Gates whose mother dies. But in the hospital, she hears her mother’s voice say, “find my heart.” But Gates still has to go to high school, navigate making friends, and survive a drugged out trip to a magical kingdom ruled by a crazy classmate named Penny. Whaaaat. This book was so good! Review coming next week!

There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, translated and selected by Anna Summers: a collection of short stories by a Russian writer whose titles are one of my favorite aspects of her works. Stories were hit and miss. Review will be published soon.

This Week in Reading: Books in Progress

My spouse and I are getting near the end of Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith. Guy has done something awful to get rid of Bruno forever, but Bruno is like a smell that won’t clear out. And now Bruno has introduced himself to Guy’s wife, Anne. I hope to finish the novel by next Sunday!

This was a weird week. I started several books that I decided to DNF.

I requested my library buy This Much Country by Kristin Knight Pace because I heard the author on NPR and thought the memoir sounded interesting. Unfortunately, there were loads of annoying coordinate adjectives. Examples:

  • “The sky never got pitch-black, and in the strange, gray light…”
  • “He would calmly lick my face or bury his heavy, square head into my shoulder.”

Knight Pace’s work has these annoying hiccups all over the place that forced me to re-read sentences, which slows down the entire memoir. I have to ask: why two adjectives? She has them all over. Pick the best one!

There are also sentences that are written in the wrong order, changing their meaning. After her husband, Alfred, says he wants a divorce, Knight Pace writes, “. . .he took to Facebook to announce what he had done to the world.” Alfred has not done anything to the world. He’s announcing to the world what he has done. DNF.

Soft on Soft: #FatGirlsinLove by Em Ali was recommended to me because it has a positive representation of a fat female lead character. While I appreciate people pointing out books for my reading challenge, Soft on Soft was so poorly written I couldn’t get into it at all. The first-person point of view was awkwardly handled as the character tells readers she’s fat, black, and demisexual. Was the author purposefully writing a character who fills in the reader on her size, race, and sexuality? Unlikely; this information should come out in the story, not be told to the reader for the sake of diversity. The sentence structure was also poorly done. DNF.

Next Week in Reading:

Vow of Celibacy by Erin Judge: this is my book for my reading fat women goal in April. Here’s the synopsis — Natalie has made a promise: a vow of celibacy, signed and witnessed by her best friend. After a string of sexual conquests, she is determined to figure out why the intense romantic connections she’s spent her life chasing have left her emotionally high and dry. As Natalie sifts through her past and her present, she confronts her complicated feelings about her plus-sized figure, her bisexuality, and her thwarted career in fashion design.

Winds of Fate by Mercedes Lackey: this is the next book for #ReadingValdemar! How exciting! Brief synopsis: High magic had been lost to Valdemar when Vanyel gave his life to save his kingdom from destruction by the dark sorceries. Now it falls to Elspeth — Herald, heir to the throne — to take up the challenge and seek a mentor who will awaken her mage abilities.

Trainspotting by Irvin Welsh: one of my books on the side that I won’t review on Grab the Lapels. Earlier this year, I read Skagboys, the prequel to Trainspotting, and plan to finish the five-book series in 2019. Brief synopsis: Choose us. Choose life. Choose mortgage payments; choose washing machines; choose cars; choose sitting oan a couch watching mind-numbing and spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fuckin junk food intae yir mooth. Choose rotting away, pishing and shiteing yersel in a home, a total fuckin embarrassment tae the selfish, fucked-up brats ye’ve produced. Choose life.

29 comments

  1. Totally with you on Petrushevskaya. Her titles are fabulous, but I wasn’t blown away when I picked up one of her collections. I’d like to give her another try though! I hope April brings lots of good books your way 😊

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  2. Destroying Angel and There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself sound really interesting!! I am looking forward to read bo​th of your reviews.​

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  3. There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories is quite a title! I’m looking forward to your review.

    As for Soft on Soft, which I haven’t read, it’s annoying when an author includes surface-level diversity just to check boxes. However, to some extent, it might be helpful to mention those characteristics to stop readers from just assuming the character is white, cis, het, etc., which are often defaults for readers socialized to see society this way.

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  4. The characterization in Soft on Soft sounds poorly handled and perfunctory. In my experience I’ve found manuscripts like that namedrop identities and superficial references to subcultures as a way of circumventing having to discuss the nuances of those identities/subcultures.

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    • Michael, you make an excellent point I had not considered. Based on all your reading, you would be someone I trust to know about this. I also lamented the way the author seemed to think labeling a person’s various identities is all we need to know about them.

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  5. Trainspotting sounds really scary! Books like that make me uncomfortable, I don’t know why. They just make me feel sad, and I feel like I told you this before, but that scene in trainspotting with the dead baby is just seared into my brain forever and makes me want to weep.

    Anyway! I really aprpeciate your comments on the author’s bad writing, because it made me realize that sometimes I write two adjectives in a row, and how annoying that is!!! I’m working on a book review for a magazine right now, and I hardly do them because I hate my own writing and it terrifies me, but learning little tips like this gives me hope that I can slowly improve my writing…

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    • I used to teach my students what I called “college survival writing.” They didn’t have to be grammarians to be good writers. They don’t have to know every part of speech or diagram sentences to get it right. Two adjectives in a row isn’t wrong, but it does get clunky after a while. Writers should be the most accurate adjective and go with that.

      Trainspotting IS intense. It’s also quite graphic. You would hate it so hard. It’s more graphic than the movie. There’s just something about giving up and not caring what happens that appeals to the deep down parts in my seedy little heart.

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    • The movie is practically G-rated compared to the book. Think of all the things that can’t go into a movie because it would be rated so harshly that it would never be released in theatre. Books don’t really have that kind of censorship. The scene in which Rents loses the suppositories in the toilet and swims down to get the is not nearly so lighthearted in the book (nor is the magical realism Danny Boyle chose to include).

      Liked by 1 person

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