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  1.  (10945.1)
    Finished Judd Winick's "Pedro And Me," which managed to bring me to near tears. Winick did the legacy of his dead friend proud.

    Currently reading Ian Mc Donald's "River of Gods," his fantastic doorstop novel set in India 2047. I need to take breaks every so often just to absorb the details of the world he's created, with its hoeks and virtual AI TV stars and suchlike.

    For a breather, Richard Cowper's "Out There Where The Big Ships Go" offers several stories I remember being printed in Fantasy & Science Fiction among other places. The stories are nicely written, but I don't expect I'll keep the book once I finish it.
  2.  (10945.2)
    Thoughts on Henry Miller & Kate Millett over here. Also finished reading Over The Knee – a bit of erotic fiction written by a spanking / corporal punishment enthusiast. Not particularly my kind of thing, but interesting to read in conjunction with a seminal work of second wave feminism, focused so much on the political implications of portrayals of sexuality, and which would probably view this kind of submissive fetish with suspicion. The author / protagonist in Over The Knee fully inhabits and owns her sexuality – she's always had her 'kink', and she embraces it with confidence. And yet she gets off on being punished, humiliated and physically beaten. It's not so much about that being sexy in itself – those roleplay sessions are genuinely painful and terrifying. The appeal seems to be the surrender to an absolute will who can liberate you from guilt and imperfection. That feeling can be arousing in itself, something I'm still trying to wrap my head around...

    Now on to Black Jack, a foundational work of manga. I was given this as a present, and wasn't particularly keen on it, but actually it's really great! It's about a mysterious master surgeon without a license – a anti-hero put in inventive situations where he wrestles with hubris and duty. Fun cartooning as well. On to the second volume already...
  3.  (10945.3)
    Since January:

    Defend The Realm by Christopher Andrew (and his research team)
    Gun Machine by Warren Ellis
    Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
    With Liberty And Justice For Some by Glenn Greenwald
    Path of the Assassin vol 3 by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima
    Dirty Money by Richard Stark (aka Donald Westlake)
  4.  (10945.4)
    So how is Gun Machine? I have mixed feelings regarding Ellis... his work consistently highlights a lot of issues and psychological inadequacies ingrained in the man.. but at least the unapologetic anger that comes through is refreshing.

    I'm reading 'Old man's war' at the moment. It doesn't feel like I'm reading anything new or ground breaking but, because I love everything that's influenced it, it feels comfortable and familiar.
  5.  (10945.5)
    Finished reading TH White's "Sword in the Stone" as I want to read the entire "The Once and Future King". It was, honestly, rather hard to get through... really not what I remembered from when I was younger.

    Also just finished reading The Redbreast by Jo Nesbø. Entertaining detective story that used some unfortunate tools (IE: Someone figures out a secret, is worried that she'll get attacked, calls someone else and leaves a message saying that they figured it out but they don't say what it is.... Guess who's never heard from again?)
    This book had one of the most heartbreaking set of chapters I've ever read. It's 7 chapters in a row, each of them start with
    the main characters partner's answering machine recording and the chapter (usually a page or just over) is him leaving a message. After the second or third one he talks about her funeral.
    Absolutely beautifully done and I would read the book again just for that part alone.

    Currently about to finish Guy Gavriel Kay's newest book, River of Stars. GGK is probably my favorite writer, this book does not disappoint. It's based off of 12th century China, deals with a country that, over the course of the last 400 years or so, has drained all of the power out of its armies. The main explorative theme is about exile, how is affects people, and what happens because of it.
    Highly suggested for most anyone that can appreciate a well written, beautiful story.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeApr 12th 2013
    @MartinSheen: I'm not big into crime thrillers, but I enjoyed Gun Machine.

    Ellis can write. The book is funny in parts, gripping/scary in others, squick-inducing in others. But it manages to be . . . breezy? It moves right along. It is a crime thriller, nothing deep or profound, but one with the potential to be a great movie or TeeVee show.
  6.  (10945.7)
    Loved Rant by c.p!
  7.  (10945.8)
    Just knocked out The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway. I felt like I should read it considering it is a classic. At first, I thought it was gonna be work to read it but f**k me if it isn't engrossing once he's out to sea. Who knew fishing could be so enthralling!

    I'm almost done with Stephen King's On Writing. It's my second go-around with it and I love it more this time. It's a must for anyone interested in writing.

    I'm working on my first short story so I've been digging into Barker's Books of Blood most recently.

    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeMay 28th 2013
    I'm reading Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell. Vowell, sometimes heard on "This American Life," is a history geek. This time she travels to places connected with presidential assassinations.

    Also, a phone-book-sized collection of adventure stories. Howard, Lieber, many others of the pulp era.
  8.  (10945.10)
    I seem to be deluging myself with books just now - currently I'm six hundred pages into Anathem after about four days, it's the last Stephenson novel I have after spending the last six months finishing the Baroque trilogy and Cryptonomicon. I don't think there are any more left, this definitely isn't fair... Before that was Packing for Mars by Mary Roach, a very quick read on the weirder side of the space program that was loads of fun. Also bought Gill Scott-Heron's The Vulture while I was in New York cause it seemed like a nicely underhanded souvenir for myself. And Joe Abercrombie's sucking me in, I'm two books into the Blade Itself trilogy and desperately trying to ignore the fact I read Heroes first. Dammit!

    ... I don't know how, but this thread slipped my mind when I did this review for Christopher Brookmyre's move into sci-fi
    • CommentTimeMay 30th 2013
    I've been going nuts reading. Gibson's Distrust That Particular Flavor was wonderful. I enjoyed Sterling's The Caryatids even if it was kind of disjointed. London Falling was fantastic; a cop procedural where the crook is a baby-sacrificing witch, and I'm reading Chuck Wendig's The Blue Blazes right now, and it is absolutely bugshit so far.
    • CommentAuthor256
    • CommentTimeMay 30th 2013
    @Stefan - I'd be interested to hear what you think of Assassination Vacation.
    • CommentTimeMay 31st 2013 edited
    Finally read Wasp Factory. The entire thing was great until the very last chapter, and then I felt massively let down. I think I'm going to start ripping out final chapters of books. Nobody knows how to end a book properly.

    I actually got a huge stack of books I've been meaning to read for a while, based on recs from here and elsewhere. I'm 40 pages into The Master and Margarita so far. It's ... interesting.
    • CommentAuthorEon
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2013 edited
    On endings, but not of books, did you follow the Sopranos? To me that was a fine ending. Many, many hated it.
    • CommentAuthorflecky
    • CommentTimeJun 30th 2013 edited
    Some of the stuff I'm reading at the moment:

    The Informers by Brett Easton Ellis. I really like this book. It's so sparse, yet gets to the heart of high-class damage in early eighties L.A. Wish I'd read it earlier, but there's no time like now.
    The Ticket That Exploded by William Burroughs. It's one of the few books by him that I've not done. It's madness, and to make sense of it is pretty futile, so I just read it as a sort-of "sickness-poem". It's good for zoning-out and going into a reading trance when the world just seems...sick?
    Looking For Jake and other stories by China Mieville. First book for me by him, so giving it a chance.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeJun 30th 2013
    @256: I'm enjoying Assassination Vacation. It is history, but entertaining and quietly opinionated history. Vowell is snarky in a gentle nerdy way.

    I just started the section on President Garfield, who was best known for getting shot. Fascinating in his utter lack of anything to be fascinated about.
    • CommentTimeJul 2nd 2013
    I need book suggestions.

    I'm finding that the books that help me sort of unwind and escape are the trashy "murder is all I know but I'm also kind of a good guy" noir mysteries with a touch of paranormal in them.

    What I'm liking in that vein: Kadry's Sandman Slim series, Huston's Joe Pitt series.

    Deciding to take a break from the Dresden Files because one of the books was so terrible.

    Any help is appreciated.
    • CommentTimeJul 2nd 2013
    @Eon, I didn't watch the Sopranos but I have seen the ending and I find that completely acceptable. Maybe I wouldn't if I were immersed in it, dunno, but I definitely prefer being left hanging in a universe than feeling like someone stuck a bow on it and kicked it out the door. I refused to finish the last book of the Malazan series for the same reason. If everything has some magical tied-up ending, I don't want to know.

    So, this summer:
    Ratner's Star by DeLillo. Disappointing, draggy. Probably funny if I had more energy, but as it was I couldn't stomach it. Probably the first time I haven't finished a DeLillo, too.
    Atrocity Exhibition by Ballard. Yawn. It makes me want to read more in the way of Ballard biographies than Ballard works, because he sounds so convincingly insane.
    The Master and Margarita. It was just okay. Again, a little draggy. Funny in parts but not exactly the mind-opening experience I was told it would be.
    I'm paging through Calvino's Invisible Cities while at the gym, but I'm finding myself distracted by TSN's Wimbledon coverage on the screens. It's a re-read, anyways.
    I also snipped through Marcello de Cintio's Walls over the weekend, which is non-fic about various barriers in the world (US/Mexico, north/south Cyprus, India/Bangladesh, etc.) and finished with a chapter about a class-war fence erected in Montreal proper. It was a little gooey emotional in the rhetoric, but it read as a good adventure.

    Now I'm on Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway. So far so wonderful. I'm a little put off by steampunk stuff these days, but some of the descriptive passages about clockworkings and mechanization are pretty enticing. Robin, it's a little opposite of what you want, more "I'm a nice guy who was brought up by a master criminal but refuses to enter that lifestyle even though everyone wants me to" - but still a noir mystery with some paranormal, so ....
    • CommentAuthorsmoggy
    • CommentTimeJul 4th 2013
    @ oldhat. In a similar vein I can recommend the Felix Castor books by Mike Carey. A freelance exorcist in a world where the dead have returned as ghosts, zombies and werewolves.
    • CommentTimeJul 4th 2013
    Seconding the Felix Castor recommendation, Great books.

    Things I've read this year that blew me away, tickled me, or just didn't completely suck:

    The Iraqi Christ by Hassan Blasim - hallucinatory conflict zone fantasy short stories, absolutely stunning.
    Laidlaw by William McIlvanney - the original and best Glasgow Noir crime novel
    Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You by Bradley Sands - insane, poorly written, violent pulp trash that turns out to be a touching homoerotic love story
    Martian Time Slip by Philip K. Dick - have re-read most of the PKD novels this year, and this one stood out for its strange, haunting misinterpretation of autism
    Dark Eve by William Couper - a former 'chappeler, whose spooky novel I enjoyed immensely
    That Weird City by Aaron Jacobs and C. Brian Hickey - re-read these tales of Lovecraftian urban horror and enjoyed them, again, immensely
    Slammer by Allan Guthrie - dark and vivid prison-set Scottish crime novel, utterly gripping
    Gone Again and Hit and Run by Doug Johnstone - this guy knows how to write a good thriller. Also Scottish
    Sex and Rockets by John Carter - the story of Jack Parsons, pal of L. Ron Hubbard and Aleister Crowley, and a rocket scientist. BRILLIANT. Think oldhat recommended it to me.