Book recs

Sep. 19th, 2017 02:44 pm
[personal profile] ajohns
My niece is 14, queer, closeted, and deeply depressed. We're all working on getting her treatment, but in the meanwhile, I think that about the only thing she's mustering the energy for is reading. I've sent her a variety of books and graphic novels over the years (and she's read my brother's extensive graphic novel collection), and I'm running out of ideas.

She's a geek with a wide range of interests - superheroes, fantasy, minecraft, star wars... and a deep seated fear and anger around the Catholic church and the current administration. If you were her, what would you want to read that was fun, queer friendly (or at least not un-friendly), feminist (or at least not misogynist) and not too painful?

Book Review

Sep. 18th, 2017 08:41 pm
kenjari: (Eowyn)
[personal profile] kenjari
March: Book Three
by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

The conclusion of this series is rather amazing. March: Book Three concentrates on the push for voter registration and the events leading up to Bloody Sunday and the march from Selma to Montgomery, AL. It begins with a wrenching account of the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, and ends with the march and its aftermath. Given the escalation of violence, this book is a more intense read than the first two, and every bit as gripping. The graphic novel format is quite effective in all three books, too, giving the events an immediacy and a concrete reality that text alone could not have provided.

Book Review

Sep. 18th, 2017 08:30 pm
kenjari: (Govans)
[personal profile] kenjari
March: Book Two
by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

March: Book Two picks up where the earlier volume leaves off. After the success of the lunch counter sit-ins, SNCC expands the protests to fast food places and cafeterias. In addition, the Freedom Riders program to integrate interstate bus lines starts up. SNCC, other related groups, and John Lewis himself become more visible, but their successes and growing visibility also bring increased danger. The members of the movement face arrests, imprisonment, and beatings, but they carry on, gaining increased support from more powerful men, including Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy. When Lewis is elected chairman of SNCC, he becomes on the the Big Six of the Civil Rights movement.
This book is every bit as compelling as its predecessor. Once again I enjoyed finding out about the details and the work that went on between big events. The theme and role of non-violent action continues and becomes even stronger as these ideals are tested via the increasing violence towards the protestors.

Book Review

Sep. 17th, 2017 08:07 pm
kenjari: (Eowyn)
[personal profile] kenjari
March: Book One
by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

This is the first of a graphic novel trilogy based on the Rep. John Lewis' life during the Civil Rights movement. Framed by Lewis' attendance at Obama's first inauguration in 2009, this volume covers Lewis' childhood through his college years as he became aware of Martin Luther King's efforts and the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement. When Lewis attends college in Nashville, he becomes increasingly involved with the movement and joins the SNCC. He participates in the lunch counter sit-ins, staring down bigotry, getting attacked, and being arrested.
This is such compelling reading. It's written to be accessible to younger audiences, but it is not simplified at all, and it doesn't pull many punches. Lew is is frank about the violence and danger the protestors faced and endured. He is also clear about the rightness of their cause, and the personal conviction he felt. I particularly enjoyed the way his narrative filled in the spaces between the major events of the history we have all been taught. The way the lunch counter sit-ins started, developed, and grew is fascinating and instructive.

Book Review

Sep. 17th, 2017 07:23 pm
kenjari: (Govans)
[personal profile] kenjari
by Louise Erdrich

The plot of this book, which takes place in small-town North Dakota, is set in motion when Landreaux Iron accidentally kills his neighbors' 5 year old son in a tragic hunting accident. To atone for this act, he and his wife Emmeline decide to follow an old tribal tradition and give their own 5 year old son, LaRose, to their neighbors, the Raviches. LaRose is able to integrate himself into his new family, forging important bonds with his new mother Nola and new sister Maggie. After some time, LaRose is able to start having visits with his original family and this shared custody gradually heals the two grieving families. However, this fragile peace is jeopardized by the actions of a man seeking retribution upon Landreaux for events of their youth.
While not a cheerful read, LaRose was entirely engrossing and lovely. Erdrich delves into the dynamics of grief and guilt with great sensitivity and depth. Even when the plot takes on themes of vengeance and retribution, Erdrich eschews melodrama, instead opting to look deeply into the way events, complex relationships, and their consequences unfold. The reconciliation between the two families is instead built up gradually, through individual moments and actions, small gestures, and individual decisions. Through it all, she also weaves the tales of the Iron family's forbears and a strand of mysticism that adds extra resonance to the story.
Overall LaRose is a wonderful novel of redemption that does not take the easy, sentimental route. Instead, Erdrich treats her themes with great subtlety and complexity, preferring gradual development over sweeping gestures.

Can’t Take It With You

Sep. 17th, 2017 08:27 pm
kiya: (akhet)
[personal profile] kiya

Mirrored from Suns In Her Branches | Kiya Nicoll.

The service ended on the vehement command: “Spend the afternoon! You can’t take it with you!”

I feel the church year proper has begun at last.

Rank by rank again we stand,
from the four winds gathered hither.
Loud the hallowed walls demand
whence we come and how, and whither.

There are times I feel that if I got nothing from church but the singing, that would be enough. I grew up sort of Methodist, which perhaps gives me a particular perspective on what Church Is About, but there’s also that… the only times that I felt deeply I could belong, in that church where I was, had to do with music. There is a particular feeling of voices joined in song, a particular sanctity, and it is so important to me. And even if I’m up in the balcony space – the drive means I’m often too late to be in the sanctuary proper – I can sing, I can belong, I can stand and feel the music welling up and my hand can mark the beats and this is important, so important.

Of course, I get more from church than the singing. But the singing would be enough.

The readings included The Little Duck and Pry Me Off Dead Center, which was also the sermon, and I found myself contemplating theology, listening. Theology and action and the necessity to move, and the shape and the change needed in the world, all of these things. One part of the sermon quoted Annie Dillard, and that, too, goes into the pot.

Balance, but also motion; not to be lukewarm, and thus spat out.

I came home and wrote a mythological snippet, titled Mercy, which I put up on my revamped Patreon in the appropriate category. We’ll see how that project rolls.


Sep. 17th, 2017 09:48 am
kass: apples and honey (apples)
[personal profile] kass
It's one of my favorite flavors of the year, and it's one I only taste at this season: coffee-infused honeycake batter, licked off of the scraping spoon after I put the pans in the oven.


Sep. 16th, 2017 11:52 am
kass: a latte in a teacup with a heart shape drawn in the foam (latte)
[personal profile] kass
1. Tasty leftovers for lunch: baked rice (lemon, cinnamon, curry leaves), topped with spicy kale (ginger, soy, and a hot red pepper from the CSA) with a dollop of chicken schmaltz just to make the whole thing richer and more flavorful.

2. Rereading the introduction to The Bitch is Back this morning and being both comforted and inspired by the existence of many smart, thoughtful, passionate women determined to wrest the most out of midlife.

3. The fact that my son, who is going on eight, still wanted nail polish this weekend and still watches Shimmer & Shine.

4. Beautiful warm late-summer day, which means I'm still wearing sleeveless shirts and sandals, both of which make me happy.

5. I'm going to give myself a pedicure this afternoon. \o/!

How are y'all?

family drama

Sep. 13th, 2017 04:22 pm
fox: my left eye.  "ceci n'est pas une fox." (Default)
[personal profile] fox
So: Twelve days ago my mother had a stroke.

She's doing okay now, but here's more about that. )

So my autumn has taken a big fucking left turn. How are you?


Sep. 12th, 2017 04:03 pm
kass: orange aspen leaves, "zen fen" (aspen zen fen)
[personal profile] kass
1. Kitten. With his little kitten face, and his giant kitten paws, and his blissed-out kitten squinty-eyes while lounging on my desk in a sunbeam and licking my fingers.

2. Thanks to [personal profile] heresluck posting her recipe for Keralan pepper chicken last week I was inspired to get curry leaves (one can buy them on Amazon! which is useful to know if one lives in a small town as I do), and then I was inspired to ask her what else she cooks with them, and now I am making lemon, cinnamon, and curry leaf basmati rice.

3. It is warm this afternoon. Warm and beautiful and sunny and the crickets and cicadas are singing their song.

4. I have a big work deadline coming up and I am reaching a state of calm about it. As in: the really important things will get done. The things that don't get done...? Must not be that important. ::grin:: We'll see if I can sustain this attitude through the next couple of weeks (not likely, but one lives in hope.)

5. Tonight [personal profile] kouredios will come over and we will have dinner and watch some Gilmore Girls again. It's nice to be getting back to that routine.

How are y'all?

Writing and Reading Short Fiction

Sep. 11th, 2017 03:13 pm
kiya: (rune)
[personal profile] kiya

Mirrored from Kiya Nicoll.

I never used to be a big short fiction reader. I mean, I read it, a lot of golden age SF compiled into books, but it wasn’t really the thing that grabbed me. The pieces were the wrong shape, I suppose. I would have things that stuck with me – the story I’m working on at the moment owes so much to the normalcy of flight in Heinlein’s “The Menace From Earth”, even though I suspect that nobody I don’t say that to will spot how it circles on that particular story’s thermal.

Something shifted, somewhere. I’ve written a couple of fairy tales – one published in Les Cabinets des Polytheistes, one still being anxiously polished like an Arkenstone while I try to figure out what to do with it – and those are shorts. When I read the call for submissions for The Death of All Things I immediately had what grew into “Delayed Exchange Deferred” right there, at my fingertips, the shape and the kick of it. A few other things exist for me now, as shorts that I can work on, which is… remarkable to me as someone who has mostly lived in half-stewed novels for a very long time.

And, occasionally, I’m venturing into reading short a bit more. Perhaps because that’s something I can fit into my life – between the kids and everything else it is complicated to sit down and do anything long, and a short I can swallow in one gulp.

Which is part of how I read “Avi Cantor Has Six Months To Live”. Which – given I saw that it was World Suicide Prevention Day yesterday – I am finally getting my act together to comment on.

I’m not Jewish, or of Jewish heritage, but I’ve long had the traditional fannish appreciation of Jewish minutiae, and there are those there. And there is the quiet endurance of the main character, Avi Cantor, and his ongoing struggle with life and death and identity and…

… it is one hell of a story.

I don’t know what to say about it, honestly. Avi’s struggle, that story, is a piece of why I wrote “Delayed Exchange Deferred”, though, so maybe we can get the stories out there that will make the world whole again. If we just tell enough of them. If people read or hear or see enough of them.

Tikkun olam.

(no subject)

Sep. 10th, 2017 07:45 pm
coraline: (Default)
[personal profile] coraline
[personal profile] flexagon said she'd encountered a tasty "people chow" type food in the cafeteria, and it sounded like something I might like, so I found a recipe and tried it.

How can Serious Eats and Ottolenghi go wrong? Well... )

Unitarian Revival Meeting

Sep. 10th, 2017 05:31 pm
kiya: (purify)
[personal profile] kiya

Mirrored from Suns In Her Branches | Kiya Nicoll.

The new church year begins, and as is the habit at ours when the weather allows, it began out on the common with music and performance and bagpipers.

We were exhorted to wake up and see wonders. The children played on the grass.

A second staff has been added where the rainbow pride flag blows, so that it is joined by the rose-to-blue trans flag, which the senior minister has been exhorting us to add for a while. “Long may he, she, and they wave!” he proclaimed as he introduced the new flag to the congregation.

We brought water. This is the custom: that given we separate over the summer, we bring back water from where we have gone, we pour it all together, we make it holy by our communion, and this is how we bless the children who come for blessing. I wrote up on the board where we had gotten ours, including “eclipse track, Kentucky”. (Right on the Kentucky/Tennessee border, but technically Kentucky.)

May justice roll down like waters.

Book Review

Sep. 9th, 2017 09:18 pm
kenjari: (St. Cecilia)
[personal profile] kenjari
Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician
by Christoph Wolff

This was one of the best and most enjoyable composer biographies I have ever read. It is extremely detailed, but Wolff makes the meticulous detail a source of richness rather than an exercise in either pedantry or tedium. Despite the lack of personal correspondence or other such information that history has preserved for us, Wolff also portrays Bach as living, breathing person rather than just an iconic figure, and furthermore, give the modern reader a very good sense of what an 18th century musician's life would be like. The coverage of Bach's development as a composer and musician, and of his professional struggles all were extremely interesting and enlightening. I have more appreciation not only for Bach and his music but also for the whole corpus of Baroque music making.


Sep. 9th, 2017 07:55 pm
kass: glasses of pink wine (rose)
[personal profile] kass
1. The tapestry of sound at twilight: crickets, cicadas, the occasional distant whistle of a train.

2. Mister Adorable Kittenface. Even if he's being a little bit bitey today and attempting to gnaw on me with his teeny tiny little teeth.

3. A glass of rosé, because rosé.

4. I finished Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate books and they are quite charming.

5. Today I wrote a work thing that really, really needed to be written. It's only a draft, so with any luck I'll manage to improve it, but worst-case instance, now it exists. Go me.

How are y'all this evening?


sigerson: (Default)

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