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Wednesday reading meme

Look at this! I'm doing a Wednesday reading meme!

I'm reading Ada Palmer's Too Like the Lightning (Amusingly, for the first few days I kept thinking of as Nothing Like the Lightning. My brain was in opposite land, clearly). I started it because of Puddleshark's answer to my question about hopeful futures (and because I'd read interesting reviews of it, and Puddleshark's comment reminded me of that).

What an intriguing, absorbing book. I'm equal parts enjoying it and arguing with it (but I enjoy the arguing). I feel like a cat circling something new in its environment, fascinated, but also hissing.

There was a big reveal regarding awful crimes in the middle of the book, and it genuinely shocked and unnerved me. Maybe it was because I read it at night, but even as part of my brain was laughing nervously (because the awfulness was larded on so thick) another part of me was gasping like a fish.

And then it sort of became a problem for me, not because of delicate sensibilities but because--how can I put it without spoilers--the crimes (and other things hinted at) seem to indicate an upcoming focus that not only isn't to my tastes but that I think is a real will-o'-the-wisp that writers should avoid chasing. Except that (a) I think I'm manifestly wrong: many people are equally fascinated by this will-o'-the-wisp; in fact, I'm the odd person out for thinking of it as a phantasm, and (b), maybe possibly the plot will escape that black-hole pull. But I doubt it. Although I hadn't been spoiled for the big reveal, I do know about some upcoming plot elements that lead me to believe that I shouldn't hold out hope for (b).

All the same. Quite fascinating, with lots of memorable lines. Today's:

It was the kind of anger we create to mask our guilt.

I'm also reading an ARC of [personal profile] sovay's short-story collection. Wow. I'm two-thirds through it, and it is breathtaking. I suspect everyone who reads me also reads [personal profile] sovay and knows Sovay is a person of penetrating insights and breathtaking turns of phrase. The stories are intense and mesmerizing.

These two quotes, from a story that will be new to the world with this anthology:

Her long arms were tangled with tattoos

And this:

Perhaps he could ... leave, finally, the city that had always felt like home in the same way that his parents had felt like family, demanding, endurable, unchosen.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/890478.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
puddleshark
Aug. 2nd, 2018 11:00 am (UTC)
I had a similar reaction to the big reveal... In my case, it was then that the book passed from being a book about characters to being a book about philosophical argument. At that point I could still admire it greatly, but I was less likely to love it.
asakiyume
Aug. 2nd, 2018 01:53 pm (UTC)
I've been arguing with the book since the beginning, when sensayers were introduced--conceptually, they just don't work **at all** for me. It reminds me of a recent SF show I watched, Colony, in which a mother whom the audience is meant to identify with and more or less respect attempts to save her young child from indoctrination into a cult by bringing home copies of the Bible, Quran, Bhagavad Gita, etc., and explaining, "See, there's lots of choices." Yes, true--but you can't get a sense of what a religion (or a spiritual philosophy) is from someone presenting holy texts to you in a dispassionate way.

Kwame Anthony Appiah had a better way of saying it in his book Cosmopolitanism. He argued that a person who has no real interest in any religion can respect all religions equally, but a person with firm belief in a particular religion knows their religion to be true (it may be syncretic and able to accommodate other religions, or it may be exclusionary, but the point is, it's TRUE). But, of course, not everyone believes as that person does.

.... which is all to say, I'm definitely here for the philosophical arguments. But if they're going to be about the importance of sex and sex's relationship to violence, which it seems is going to be a big feature, then I'm going to be very disappointed.
nemophilist
Aug. 2nd, 2018 11:54 am (UTC)

You make me so curious about Too Like the Lightning!

asakiyume
Aug. 2nd, 2018 01:55 pm (UTC)
It is VERY gripping. I can never recommend books with any certainty--I'm too colored by my own reactions to them--but this one has a lot of **stuff** to think about, and I find it hard to put down.
(Deleted comment)
asakiyume
Aug. 3rd, 2018 06:25 am (UTC)
It *is* amazing.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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