Wednesday, December 31, 2008

OK, found something to read today.

While going through my shelves for more books I can trade or sell, I found Favorite Son, which I have kept since..1984? 1988? I started re-reading it over lunch to see why I kept it. So far, it seems like a nice mesh of politics, romance and behind the scenes skullduggery.

I also dug out two more to re-read before listing. But we've been doing such a good job at culling the monster that is our library, I am not sure what else will be left.

However, when I get to the office library...where all the porn is?

Those, I'll sell. And I will be letting people know way ahead of time.

Reading catch up

OK, so I finished the Kellermans, had a palate cleanser of Household Gods, and then dipped into an anthology I've had around for years but never actually read, Sandman, The: Book of Dreams. I had it because a friend of mine, Lawrence Schimel, has a poem in it. Lawrence is the world's hardest working writer; if he doesn't have work in over 100 anthologies, I'd be surprised. He has done everything from poetry to children's lit to erotica.

Anyway, I am a huge Neil Gaimon fan, and I love my Sandman, but I never had the urge to read short stories set in the world. There is something about prose versions of comic books which usually disappoints me. (Probably starting with the costumes. I can take them in pictures, but actually reading about someone pulling on their green tights and tunic would make me giggle.)

The verdict? Damn good. Loved it. What's wrong with me anyway? It goes back on the shelf with the other keepers.

Then I missed my serial killers, so I reread Thomas Harris' Hannibal books. The Silence of the Lambs (Hannibal Lector), then through Hannibal Rising

Silence is still the best, but I like the time spent with Lector in Hannibal. Rising...well. It's The Godfather 3. I want it for closure.

I have no idea what to read next. There is nothing on my "new books" shelf, which always sucks.

Oh, speaking of new and old books, I joined Paperback Swap, this online service that facilitates getting rid of books you no longer want and getting books back from other people. Using a nice little matching system and a helping of trust and media mail, so far I have sent out several books from my "why have I kept this?" pile and will be adding more soon. If you join, mention me as a referrer. I don't know if it gets me any goodies, but it can't hurt.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Regular reads

There are some books I tend to read over and over again, not for any philosophical value, or even to learn from them, but for the same strange reasons why some trashy movies entertain me no matter how many times I see them. Sure it's easy to say "I watch The Godfather over and over again" because it's acknowledged as an American classic. But Trading Places? Major League? Coming to America? Put one of those on and I get happy, despite their thin plots, cheesy acting and, well, general low-brow content.

Ditto, it would be great to say I read great classics over and over again because they speak to my soul, warm my cockles, etc. But the fact is, what draws me to re-read is not depth of thought but depth of setting and color. I want to get lost in a book and feel, viscerally, what the main character(s) feel. I want to know what they taste, what the air is like on their skin, and to feel like the book is a sort of guide to that world. That's why Clavell's Shogun and Auel's The Clan of the Cave Bear and Mccullough's First Man in Rome (Masters of Rome) series get a thorough read every year or so.

An odd book that makes me happy every time I reread it is Household Gods, by Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove. It's odd because I can't say I am a huge fan of either of them writing as individuals. Some of Turtledove's alt-history stories are nice and fast reads, but they tend not to be volumes I keep. And the other fiction I've read by Tarr I have found heavy and meandering.

And it's also odd because there's nothing especially *me* in this book. The protagonist is a single mom lawyer who has made some bad choices in a lifestyle I find annoying to read about. She is astonishingly ignorant of history for a lawyer, which is important because it's one of those time travel books where the 20th century person winds up back in time. There are times when I want to reach through the book and smack her.

And yet...the descriptions of the people, the food, the smells, the buildings, the daily interactions are so right on. She might be dense from time to time, but she's tough, too, and crafty. And there is a certain pleasure in the story of a person who actually learns useful things in the course of a story. Best of all, the story doesn't end in two of the most common ways in time travel sagas; she neither finds true love in the past nor gets dropped off safely at her front door while "the end" appears immediately thereafter.

Readers who know my work might recognize the fact that I like multiple endings. The story isn't over just because someone falls in love or returns home. I always tend to ask, "and THEN what?" even in my own work. This book pleases me because I find out.

After a month of mysteries and police stories in the Kellerman family, it was nice to enjoy the richness of ancient Roman culture through the eyes of a California lawyer who didn't know what she was getting into. What I am going to read next, I dunno. This year, no one gave me books, possibly a first! It's back to the shelves for another re-read, and soon.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Finished with the Kellerman

And I found out I am missing one. I hate that. Apparently, I was not in the mood to pick up Obsession (Alex Delaware, No. 21)

Head over to!

Cecilia Tan and her Tan Clan have been putting out erotic SF, fantasy and horror for so long, you can call them Olde Guarde Porne. This year, at, she's been putting up stories from their many anthologies and writers in a free-fest of fantasy, one story a day for a sort of kinky advent period. I've got two stories appearing this week - Shayna Maidel and a new one I wrote just for her site, called Ho-Fucking-Ho.

The first is my Jewish-lesbian-vampire story (doesn't *everyone* have one of those?) and the new one I wrote because I find Xmas stories trite, yet had just written a little ditty called Santa, Bucko, to the tune of Santa, Baby.

Ahh, the life of the mind.

See, I wrote the song lyrics because a regular on Bilerico, a queer blog, had posted a version written for MtF chicks. It was cute, I liked it, but thought the FtMs might want their own version. So, I dashed one off and posted it. Then the two people in my life who get m to do things I would not ordinarily do told me I should spread it around, that it was funny. OK, fine, so it wound up on my mailing list and on my website.

And then Cecilia wrote and asked if I had any Xmas stories sitting around. And I had this song...and a picture popped into my head of a really cranky Daddy and a bunch of hot boys...

Anyway. That story will appear on the 24th, on the site. Hope you like it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Next Kellerman

As I continue my trek through the Kellerman family, today's book is Gone. It's not his best; I still think his earlier work is far better than his more current. But as I reread the series in order, I think I've been harsh in dismissing his more recent work as vastly inferior. It is...stripped down more. Alex's personal life seems so bare compared to the details which made him more of a rounded character earlier on.

Am I more forgiving now because I am reading them so quickly, and therefore didn't have time to forget the details? Or because maybe I am lulled into the process of each story; set up, complications, mysteries - then bang-up ending which puts Alex in danger for at least two pages?

One thing for sure - Milo sure gets the short shrift in all these years. A genius, a butch sourpuss of a gay detective, suddenly I am wishing there was a series about him. And how come we never get to see his handsome emergency surgeon husband??

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Books I'm Reading

I've spent the last month reading Jonathan Kellerman's mysteries in chronological order. I'm up to Rage.