Jan. 30th, 2019

alchimie: (Default)
No Girl Scouts this week, and so --

Recently Finished

The Parking Lot Attendant by Nafkote Tamirat, read for the Tournament of Books. It was interesting, but either there is not as much there as I would like, or I am reading it all wrong. It starts as a sort of dream-like dystopian story with an unnamed young woman on an island colony run by a mysterious group with many arbitrary rules, then suddenly with the second chapter becomes a very mimetic novel about an Ethiopian-American girl growing up in Boston, first being raised by her single mother, and then by her father, whose return to her life seems to make her mother vanish. Our narrator gets emotionally involved (in a non-romantic sense) with a much older Ethiopian man, the titular parking lot attendant, and the rest of the book comes out of that, but I could not really make the pieces fit together; there might be something there about shifts in genre equating to shifts in experience for immigrants, or the girl's experience both as her concrete life and also as something about the first-generation American experience writ large, but... it just didn't really work. I am hoping for very good ToB discussion about it, since I am sure some people loved it and will want to explain it to me.

On the Go

Still with Census (Jesse Ball) and enjoying it a lot; it should be done in the next few days. It is the sort of book I thought The Parking Lot Attendant was going to be -- it is ostensibly about a terminally ill census-taker travelling with his son, who has Down Syndrome, taking a census together -- except it is clearly not actually set in the real world, and seems to be more about exploring the ways people understand their world, and why some sorts of knowledge are valued over others, and the desire to quantify and categorise versus a more holistic acceptance of what is seen -- I am not doing it justice, and I do still have about 1/3 of the book to go, so its multiplicity of meanings may collapse into something more obvious and settled, but oh, I do love a book like this.

I keep starting and stopping The House of Broken Angels (Luis Alberto Urrea) -- it is not doing a lot for me, but so many people I know on Goodreads adored it, so I am giving it a little longer.

I am happily continuing to read [personal profile] yhlee's The Fox's Tower and Other Tales, one brief story at a time, and I have made some progress on The Exile in Waiting by Vonda McIntyre, although we are deep in part of the protagonist's arc which is all suffering, so I hope it turns around to some other things soon.

Finally, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North is quick and fun and perfect for reading when I'm tired and cannot focus on beautiful, subtle writing.


Upcoming

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, both for ToB and because I think I will enjoy it.

The March North by Graydon Saunders -- I am technically reading this, because I keep dipping back into it when everything else is unappealing, but I am not diving in headfirst yet because I want to get through more of ToB list first so I am ready for March.

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