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Recently Finished

Census by Jesse Ball, which pleased me all the way to the end; it is another one that may generate good ToB discussion, although the discussion might be hampered by the fact that it was in the summer reading and so many ToB people have already talked about it. I liked that Ball did not feel the need to land it anywhere, he just let it be ambiguous to the end. It is a book that offers a wide variety of possible readings and I have some favourites, but I do not think any particular reading is definite, which is a delightful sort of book for me.

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, a short novel about a woman named Korede, a nurse in Lagos whose younger sister's boyfriends keep ending up dead. It was really good, not at all what one might expect from the title; Braithwaite is so in charge of her craft, she illustrates and keeps a very light tone, letting the reader see everything from several angles without being too enmeshed. I liked looking and thinking and enjoying, and appreciated both the humour of the deadpan tone and the fact that there are real things being shown here, about growing up in a certain sort of family and what capacities that does (and does not) give a person.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, which is an sfnal thriller which did not have too much action-adventure for my tastes, despite the thriller nature. There was nothing particularly special, but it was a lot of fun.


On the Go

So many, and so many of them are not working, I foresee a great releasing books back into the wild in my future. But the ones that are working --

The House of Broken Angels by Luis Urrea, slowly but increasingly surely. I am about 1/3 through and finally starting to understand the shape of it and beginning to enjoy this sprawling, complicated family.

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo had a 2007 Orange Prize nomination and I can see why -- it flows very smoothly and it is all centred in the head of the protagonist, a young Chinese woman navigating a year spent in London studying English. It reads quickly and I am curious about what happens next, but I cannot quite find where the weight of it falls.

There There by Tommy Orange -- This #OwnVoices story of urban Native American life has gotten a lot of buzz, so it was already on my TBR when the ToB shortlist came out -- but being on the shortlist means I am trying it sooner, and thus far I am glad that I am. It is very compelling thus far.


Up Next

The ToB starts on 6 March, so if I am going to read the remaining 10 books on the shortlist I need to focus -- and I am certain I will not make it through all of them, I always give up on a few, but I do like to try. So I think next will be Michael Ondaatje's Warlight (I have never read anythin of his, or even seen the famous movie) and The Dictionary of Animal Languages by Heidi Soprinka as it is the hardest to get from the library and thus if I am not quick on it I might lose my opportunity. After that, well, we will see.

The attentive reader may notice some books have vanished from this list entirely -- that is usually because they had to go back to the library and I haven't been able to get new copies yet, or because I am reading them still but so slowly that it does not seem worth mentioning it every week.

Now off to find my daughter's Girl Scout uniform so it is ready for tomorrow when she is selling cookies -- assuming her cold has not made a resurgence such that she is in bed again.
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