Sunday Lowdown #114


I’m starting research for my linguistics class, and I’ve chosen the topic discourse analysis in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Discourse analysis looks at things like turn-taking, discourse markers, face-saving, etc. While Hurston’s most famous novel has a straightforward plot we can summarize, in between are several conversations in which people share information, tease, theorize, etc. so I need to do more research on discourse analysis and apply it to those samples. I’m pretty excited to apply linguistic theories to a book I love so much, but the professor is quite strict! I just don’t want to look like a goofball.

I had been nervous about one aspect of school for the last couple of weeks. There were two parts to our ASL midterm: expressive and receptive. During the expressive portion I hit the glasses on my face, but I kept moving forward. But the receptive test resulted in poor grades from 75% of the class, thus, everyone had to take it again. I’m not concerned about grades; I’m not sure if this makes sense, but I feel too old to care about grades. I’m not there to earn an A if it’s not a true reflection of my skills. Plus, for me, a poor grade is concerning because I don’t want my ASL professor, who is Deaf, to think I don’t take his language and culture seriously. I re-did the receptive test and felt . . . okay-ish. But I got the test back on Friday and saw I got almost every question right! I couldn’t stop smiling all day, but I was trying to keep it in. But I definitely bounced around like a meme all Friday.


I’m never surprised that there isn’t much traffic from my regular readers when I post a Valdemar book review, but I keep up with it for posterity. Hence, this week I shared my thoughts on Into the West by Mercedes Lackey. Also, when I look at my stats, I see other readers checking out these posts. And the Valdemar books are all in one place, which is nice for people trying to figure out how to enter a fandom. Have you ever tried get into an author’s work but weren’t sure where to start? I’ve had that with a few authors: Mercedes Lackey, S.M. Reine, Katie MacAlister, and Kathy Reichs. I’m always glad when an author gives us a list of where to start and in which order to read. Are there any authors you had trouble getting into because they have such a big or confusing body of work?


I’m trying to balance school and blogging, which means if I have burst of reading during a break, I’ll write several reviews and post-date them. Then, in between I have the freedom to listen to whatever fits my schedule without thinking about how long it has been since I last posted here. So, despite it being March, I have a Christmas-themed collection of stories for you! While it’s fun to read them during the holiday season, I would argue Connie Willis’s A Lot Like Christmas is a fun read any time of the year. Review Wednesday. 


Books Bought Since January 2023: 0


Thanks to my buddy Daniel in the Huntsville Horror group for recommending Junji Ito. Also, ever since I reviewed It’s Always Been Ours by Jessica Wilson, I’ve noticed more forthcoming or newly-published books on fatness by Black women, so you’ll see several added below.


  1. Congratulations on doing so well on your exam! You linguistics paper topic sounds great, and I am certain you will do a fabulous job. Don’t worry about the strict teacher, just make sure you meet all the paper requirements while pouring your passion into it and it will be just fine!


    • I’ve also learned how to decide when enough is enough. I got a B+ on the analysis paper in linguistics, but we have an opportunity to resubmit them for a better grade. However, the topics was phonetics; we didn’t get to choose. I’m not interested in where in my mouth I make sounds, and to be honest, it all seems a bit unreliable to me (is that vowel high back? Low front? Mid high back?).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done on your exam – and well done on not caring about the “grade” but caring about what a poor grade means. I get that.

    Now I have to say that I read your Valdemar post BEFORE I read this. I knew I hadn’t read your mid-week post and decided to read it before I read this one, so I did, and was surprised to see so few commenters. Interestingly, my average comments per post have been down the last few weeks but my stats in terms on number of visitors have been up. I’ll never ever understand the blogosphere.

    Anyhow, I love that you have chosen a book you love for discourse analysis, and hope you tell us more about your findings to help me understand exactly how you do “discourse analysis”.

    As for do I have authors I have trouble getting into because of the large or confusing body of work? I can’t really say that I do, and I think this is partly because I don’t think I read authors with such large bodies of work – such as big series etc. If I’m really unsure about an author, I’d start at the beginning OR at a book recommended to me by a friend (which would probably be why I’m reading them in the first place.)

    Have a good week. (Oh, and I love that I regularly see Stefanie commenting here.


    • the Valdemar books usually lack comments, and I understand that. However, there does seem to be a slump every so often with comments and readers. You’d think it would be in the summer, but I feel like it’s always the few months after Christmas.

      I think on my next Sunday Lowdown I’ll give a research update regarding my linguistics paper. That way, for all my language folks out there, you can see some of my process.

      Some authors are hard to get into because they publish books out of chronology of the world they built. A simple example is L.M. Montgomery, who published books 1, 3, 5, 7, and 8, I believe, in order and then went back to publish what we now think of as 2, 4, and 6 to fill in time that fans felt needed expansion. Mainly, though, Maud needed money because her husband had a mental illness that prevented him from working.


  3. I’m glad/impressed that you’ve chosen to analyse Their Eyes Were Watching God. I only read it for the first time a few months ago, and a lot of the speech seemed performative, the act of speaking was more important than what was being told. I think you’ll have fun performing that in ASL.

    My last post was also uncommented except by you and WG (When too much SF is definitely too much!) and yes the daily access figures were basically unchanged. Valdemar caught me while I was working and I’m afraid I forgot to go back to it. Sorry!


    • My analysis won’t be in ASL; this is the linguistics class. It’s required for the interpreting major, but we don’t do anything in ASL. So, I’ll be looking at one of the conversations in the novel and examining the sorts of inferences vs. references characters make, how turn-taking functions, correcting (either yourself or another) — stuff like that.

      When I think about stats, I try to remember at the end of the day that GTL has been a labor of love for 10 years now. It started with a purpose of reviewing books written by women and I was sent ARCs. Now, it’s more like a club, and I’m leading all the meetings.


  4. I’m looking forward to your review of the Connie Willis short stories! I love her work but find it to be very inconsistent in terms of quality, so I’m delighted to hear that this worked for you as your introduction to her.

    I can’t always think of something to write on the Valdemar posts as I don’t think I will ever read them – but as you say, it’s really helpful for someone who is new to her work to have a place to start. I felt quite similarly when I was starting out with the Terry Pratchett books and was grateful for all the people who had suggested reading orders online!


    • I’d never heard of Connie Willis until you recommended her to me. I’m going to go on and read Doomsday Clock this summer when I have more time. It’s a rather chunky mass-market paperback.

      I hadn’t realized Terry Prachett’s books could be hard to get into. I wonder how folks back in the day of L.M. Montgomery felt about her writing several books and then going back to fill in the gaps with more novels. Were readers confused about where to start when she was publishing?


  5. Well done on your marks! And I have added Talking Back, Talking Black to my wishlist as it looks fascinating. I am working my way through my blog backlog backwards at the moment while on holiday so might have missed a few of yours, sorry!


  6. I read a few of the Valdemar books a while back and have not thought about systematically reading them in order. The series it took me a while to figure out how to start is Bujold’s Vorkosigan series. They’re great! I finally started with Cordelia’s Honor.


  7. That’s awesome that you did so well in your exam! You’ve worked really hard! Your linguistics project sounds interesting too. I hope you share more about it as you go.


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