highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
Currently Reading: pre-print proofs for a book I need for my thesis, that the author has kindly sent me; Alex Beecroft 'Blue Eyed Stranger'. I've got a few more things ostensibly currently-reading that I need to get back to, including 'Medievalism: Key Critical Terms', Mary Webb's 'Gone to Earth', and a book of Joyce Carol Oates' poetry.

I'm a chapter and a bit into the second Gentleman Bastards book, and having trouble getting into it - not because it's not interesting, but it keeps filling me with nebulous dread. The prologue scene is set later in the timeline than the first few chapters so I KNOW things are going to go QUITE WRONG. Or maybe the apparent wrongness is a cunning trick and our hero-bros will be fine! But first, long detailed scenes involving gambling scams! It's very good writing, and it's giving me anxiety.

Recently Finished: This is the third weekly post in a row (normally I aim for every 2-3 weeks) and STILL these reviews are four books behind my actual recently-finished list. Welp.

Vegetarian India: A Journey Through the Best of Indian Home CookingVegetarian India: A Journey Through the Best of Indian Home Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is a delight to read, and a logistical pain in the ass to cook from, unless you live somewhere with access to really good Indian grocers. Asfoetida, where do you even BUY that?

Still, I'm getting there. My cupboard is now home to four different kinds of daal. I've even put my coffee grinder to work grinding spices, because that's the kind of person I have become.

Brothers and Sisters in Medieval European LiteratureBrothers and Sisters in Medieval European Literature by Carolyne Larrington

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


YES GOOD VERY USEFUL MUCH WOW


The Course of HonourThe Course of Honour by Avoliot

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Well this was an absolute delight of trope-tastic proportions. I particularly enjoyed the unexpected detour into 'plot devices we loved in Inception fandom circa 2011' toward the end.

It's also very skillful writing, esp in terms of examining without over-explaining one character's experience of relationship abuse. And it doesn't fall into lazy racist tropes, either! In this it leaves Captive Prince dead in the water.

Trowchester Blues (Trowchester Blues, #1)Trowchester Blues by Alex Beecroft

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I really enjoyed the set-up to this and massively side-eyed the, like, six week transition from 'why hi i have never come out to anyone but you're hot' to 'picket fence cohabitation'. Excellent cast of side characters, though, and if I'm going to be reading sickly HEA it's nice not to have it set in the US, for once.


Also finished: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland; a book about the American founding fathers and their female friends; Ben Law's Quarterly Essay on Safe Schools; Griffith Review 56.

DNF: Clare Hemmings, 'Bisexual Spaces'. The ILL was overdue and I skimmed the intro and decided it was *too dense* for me right now, and despite the title, not actually about space (I was hoping it would be about gender/sexuality and architecture or geography some how - useful for thesis purposes). I've put it back on the to-read list though. Another day.

A recommendation I forgot this when I reviewed the last Meanjin, but Jock Given's essay Enterprise in the Forest weaves together the story of the early development of QLD state parks and the story of the wreck of a Stinson aircraft in the south queensland highlands. I sent the essay to my Dad and he tells me he learned the story very young, because my grandfather knew someone who knew someone who knew the guy who found the aircraft (via the Army, or boxing, or Pop's brothers, Dad isn't sure).

[Site note: my computer just turned itself off and on again without warning. That's... less than ideal]

Up Next: I have a stack of books about semiotics, for work, and Rita Felski's 'The Uses of Literature'. I think my next fun book in hard copy might be The Essex Serpent.




Music notes: I got nowhere near my habit targets for this week, so no new purchases. I have, however, organised a bunch of tango and flamenco music into a spotify playlist for which I blame the entire sport of figure skating.

I also unearthed an old link I'd saved to Sara Bareilles' King of Anything, and from there the soundtrack to the musical Waitress and that's pretty awesome right now.

(I also reached the point in Postal Survey Coping Mechanisms that involved loop-listening to 'Epiphany' from bare: a pop opera, because words alone cannot express the furious feelingswamp this whole bullshit thing induces.)
highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
Currently Reading: Alex Beecroft, 'Blue Eyed Stranger'; Griffith Review 36; misc other... stuff

Recently Finished:

Interpreter of MaladiesInterpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was an *interesting*, if unsettling, book. Some of the stories keep coming back in fragments in my mind: the perspective choice in When Mr Pirzada Came To Dine, to recount the Bangladeshi-Pakistani conflict through the incomplete perceptions of a child, was a particularly arresting one. The Treatment of Bibi Haldar left me with anger I was unable to properly defuse for some time - the girl with her under-treated illness, the it suddenly became clear she was being sexually abused, without the story ever specifying that because none of the characters even seemed to *think* of it. The titular story made me quite uncomfortable, but was intricately composed.

I think my favourite was the last, 'The third and final continent' - its characterisation of the boarding-house owner in particular moved me, for whatever reason.

Courting the CountessCourting the Countess by Jenny Frame

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Mmm, I just don't know how I feel about this one. It was compelling, and it was a nice change to see this rough plot arc played out with women (I see it a lot in m/m romance: career focused commitmentphobe meets some nice chappy who insists on commitment in red letters, angst ensues and we end with matrimony-like arrangements). But I found myself irked by the emphasis on Annie's lack of experience, and by just HOW heavily the 'the right woman will cure all your emotional traumas and then you marry' notes fell.

I found myself shipping the two supporting characters, Bridget the Vicar and Quin the Farmer, much more strongly than the main pairing. Apparently there's a sequel about Bridget the Vicar but it's not matching her with Quin the Farmer, so. I may or may not.

Spindle's EndSpindle's End by Robin McKinley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was a delightful fairy tale, but like... inexplicable heterosexuality? I mean. The two girls were running around BREATHING THE SAME BREATH and there was TRUE LOVE'S KISS and everything. Narl was sweet, but note Our Heroine only fell in love with him when she suddenly thought he was in love with her best friend? And when her best friend suddenly and obviously fell in love with another dude?

Look Both Ways: Bisexual PoliticsLook Both Ways: Bisexual Politics by Jennifer Baumgardner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This was a frustrating book. I learned a lot of interesting trivia about 90s pop culture, including that there were far more bisexuals in it than I thought. There were some occasionally well-phrased ways of expressing ideas I've seen before, but nothing particularly ground-breaking. Even taking into account that it's over a decade old, 'Closer to Home' is much older and MUCH more insightful.

This was... magazine-y. I've never read Ms magazine, for which the author used to write, but in Australian terms it felt like... Cleo: The Bisexual Special. Only with a weirdly uncritical Thing for second-wave feminist foremothers, without any of their depth. (One of the well-phrased ideas was that second wave feminist criticism did not actually equip the young women of the 90s to fully reshape or realise their relationships with men, but even that point turned into weird bitterness without offering an alternative. I wanted to smack the author upside the head and say READ MORE BELL HOOKS.)

For something subtitled 'bisexual politics' it's actually about 'bisexual female existence in a particular culture bubble', with limited political ANYTHING.


Also finished, to review later: Madhur Jaffrey's 'Vegetarian India'; Carolyn Larrington 'Brothers and Sisters in Medieval European Literature'; Aviolot 'The Course of Honour'; Alex Beecroft 'Trowchester Blues'; Catherynne M Valente, 'The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making'.




Music notes: Saw Back N Black, the Swiss all-girl AC/DC cover band I saw back in 2014. They seem to be going through Drama, and were filling out the ranks with dudes on second guitar, bass and drums, but it was still a pretty good show. I got showered in fake blood courtesy of BB, the lead guitarist. This was unfortunate for my new cream t-shirt, but I think I've go the stains out now.

In celebration I bought myself 'Let There Be Rock'. I actually only owned one accadacca album and a couple of stray MP3s, until now. Clearly an oversight.
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