Amatka by Karin Tidbeck

Jul. 19th, 2017 10:04 pm
lightreads: a partial image of a etymology tree for the Indo-European word 'leuk done in white neon on black'; in the lower left is (Default)
[personal profile] lightreads
Amatka

4/5. My vacation* book. A woman goes to a neighboring colony for work, gets involved with her (lady) housemate, and discovers that there is something very, very wrong with their world. Oh, and by the way, this is on a planet(?) where objects only hold their shape/meaning if they are properly and repeatedly labeled with the right word. Trust me, it makes more sense in context. Well . . . it makes more thematic sense.

This is weird and wonderful and requires a lot of work. It's in translation (from Swedish), but it's a very skillful one, as far as I can tell. Which is necessary for a slim, intense, calculated book like this, where words really count. I keep thinking about this book – about how it intersects language and oppression, and about its explicable-if-you-work-hard ending. And the worldbuilding – it's spare but sharp as a knife, as the contours of this authoritarian democracy come into relief. For example, there's a wonderful detail that seemed to open up the whole book for me, about how poetry serves an entirely different function in this world than it does in ours.

And I really like the protagonist's slide into disobedience. Her inability to play along anymore is part old personal history, part recent stress and it makes sense. But not in a paint-by-numbers tragedy-happens-to-a-plucky-person way. More like . . . yes. That is how you slide a tiny bit out of step with your community, then a tiny bit more, and a tiny bit more, and suddenly, bam. You're in a different world.

Content notes: Discussion of reproductive coercion, some forced medical stuff by the authorities, etc.

*Vacation: in which we went to see my dying father and I don't know if I'll ever see him again, and also I retired my dog and settled her with her puppyraisers and I don't know if we'll ever see her again, and then we did some hiking. Do I know how to decompress from work or what?

Carpe Demon by Julie Kenner

Jul. 19th, 2017 09:35 pm
lightreads: a partial image of a etymology tree for the Indo-European word 'leuk done in white neon on black'; in the lower left is (Default)
[personal profile] lightreads
Carpe Demon

3/5. Demon-fighting soccer mom.

There is a running joke in my household about my TBR pile. I was trying to find something to read towards the end of June [N.B.: I billed more hours in June 2017 than in any other month of my career] and my TBR was . . . dire. I was scrolling, and it was, "apocalypse . . . apocalypse with zombies . . . reproductive dystopia . . . ooh I think teenagers burn to death in that one." Yeah.

So I read this instead! Which is an extremely fluffy, comfy book about a suburban SAHM dealing with demons. She has a great best friend and a cute teenager and a dark past demon hunting for the church. Like you do. This goes the expected places – it's subliminally about the ways homemaking and running a family are like preventing the apocalypse – but it's also breezy and fun. And would make a great TV show, actually. Would watch. While collapsed half-dead with a glass of wine at the end of the week.

Wednesday looks about to rain

Jul. 19th, 2017 02:07 pm
oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Melisande Byrd His Lordship Takes a Bride: Regency Menage Romance (2015), very short, did what it says on the tin, pretty low stakes, even the nasty suitor who molests the female protag in a carriage (the Regency version of Not Safe In Taxis) just disappears. The style was not egregiously anachronistic (apart from one or two American spellings) but a bit bland.

Janet Malcolm, Forty-One False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers (2013) - charity shop find. Some of the essays were of more interest to me than others, but all very well-written.

On the go

Matt Houlbrook, Prince of Tricksters: The Incredible True Story of Netley Lucas, Gentleman Crook (2016). I depose that somebody whose scams got rumbled and who was banged up in various institutions for his crimes is not exactly trickster royalty. He then went allegedly straight and got into journalism, partly writing up the inside stories of the crime world, but these are very much complicated by the author as to their authenticity and did he actually write them. While he was more of a career criminal than the opportunistic upperclass louts in the McLaren book mentioned last week, he did have claims to gentility, but again, so not Raffles The Amateur Cracksman.

I'm currently a bit bogged down in it, which may be a reflection of the author's own experiences in trying to write about somebody who lived by lying, had numerous false identities, etc etc (which are very much foregrounded).

Simon R Green, Moonbreaker (2017) - came out this week, I succumbed.

Also started one of the books for review.

Up next

There's a new Catherine Fox out tomorrow (allegedly)...

sippin' cuervo with no chaser

Jul. 18th, 2017 08:52 pm
thistleingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] thistleingrey
Yoon Ha Lee, Ninefox Gambit (2016): usually I have trouble finding a title for a book post. This time, three came to mind: the one I've used, "the tactics of mistake," and "experimental procedures." Anyway. Kel Cheris begins as captain of a unit that gains strength and combat benefits from keeping rigorously in formation. After she attempts to solve a losing scenario creatively---and heretically---she's disgraced, but a bit more creative thinking makes her abruptly into a brevet general, the host-body to a dead mass murderer, Shuos Jedao. (Consider that many heads of units in wartime are mass murderers; though it isn't glorified here, it is ...quite present.) Kel command wants Cheris to subdue a heretical outbreak and retake the Fortress of Scattered Needles. Sort of. Well, the hexarchate, of which the Kel are one-sixth, doesn't like heretics because it messes with their calendar, but everyone (except Cheris, at first) is playing an extremely long game. Pass the metaphorical popcorn.
a bit more--not destructively spoilery (I think one cannot discuss this book at all without being *slightly* spoilery) )

As for this subject line, you know, don't you?

If you'd prefer an actualfax review to my untidy noodlings, try James Nicoll's, and if you don't mind implied spoilers for how Gambit wraps, here's his review of book two.
oursin: Photograph of Stella Gibbons, overwritten IM IN UR WOODSHED SEEING SOMETHIN NASTY (woodshed)
[personal profile] oursin

What if all students spent a year working the land before university?

How about, not?

Do we not get the impression that he has a very halcyon vision of what working on the land might involve? I suspect that there are not enough lovely organic farms practising biodynamic agricultural methods to take up anything like the numbers of intending students there are each year and a lot of them would end up working in agribusiness enterprises (which I suppose might be a salutory awakening, or not).

Also, would not much of the work be seasonal? What would they do the rest of the time?

Might there not be objections from the local communities?

I also think of the lack of amenities in many rural parts, e.g. no or inadequate public transport: in the evenings, not in the least worn-out from hours of back-breaking toil for poverty wages, maybe they'll gather round and sing folk songs and dance traditional folk dances and practice folk crafts?

And actually, I don't think this is true:

We also know that without contact with nature we will not form an attachment, we will not learn to love it.

See the rise of the notion of the healing powers of nature and the pastoral way of life in Britain as the society became increasingly urbanised, and therefore romanticised the supposedly more simple and harmonious existence of country life.

I have a feeling that people who live close to nature know exactly how dreadful nature can be. Tetanus! Anthrax! entirely natural.

(no subject)

Jul. 18th, 2017 09:14 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] sciarra!

DW mobile-friendly style, update

Jul. 17th, 2017 09:04 pm
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
I went with Practicality on [personal profile] jesse_the_k's suggestion; technically the theme is "Calculated Risks" but I changed all the colors and a lot of the decorations so I'm not sure it counts as the same theme any more.

Here's the custom CSS, which is largely ditching a lot of small-caps and extra lines, and making it more boring color-wise. (Edit) Though, if anyone wants to fiddle, there's a thing that's been commented in the code.

CSS )

Thanks for the feedback, all!
[personal profile] alexbayleaf

Originally published at Spinster's Bayley. You can comment here or there.

I recently took part in a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) – 15 days of classes and hands-on activities covering everything from ecology to passata-making, spread over the first half of this year. I’d been told that doing a PDC makes you see the world differently. I must admit that I didn’t find this to be […]

And more book-related...

Jul. 17th, 2017 08:43 pm
oursin: Books stacked on shelves, piled up on floor, rocking chair in foreground (books)
[personal profile] oursin

The end: Yorkshire Dales 'bookseller from hell' quits his shop

Doesn't say how long this charmer has been running a business, if you can call it that, but what I should have liked to have seen would have been a face-off between him and Driff Field, author of successive editions (last in 1995) of the idiosyncratic Driff's Guide to All The Secondhand and Antiquarian Bookshops in Britain (these are probably still worth reading if you ever come across copies, even though the information on actual bookshops is presumably waaaay out of date):

Hugely successful for its wit and wide coverage of the field, the guide was nonetheless chaotic, idiosyncratic and often sarcastic, with entries such as: "the b[oo]ks are slowly transforming themselves back into rags"; "judging by body temp, shop seems to have expired in 1930"; "I could smell a bargain, pity was I had a cold that day"; "owner has been unwell recently with bad back (possibly caused by turning on the customers once too often)".
or at least how Driff would have written him up.

oursin: Books stacked on shelves, piled up on floor, rocking chair in foreground (books)
[personal profile] oursin

Yet another paean to the 'return' of the physical book and the allure of the bookshelves: My bookshelf says who I am – and a Kindle cannot do that.

Well, that depends whether your bookshelves do say who you are - mine, I depose, say 'I am large, I contain multitudes' - and whether you want this revealed to any casual observer - though I daresay anyone wishing to decode [personal profile] oursin from her bookshelves would have to be in and out of several rooms and up and down staircases.

(Also, of course, we may not have physical shelves to browse but we have our virtual ones, no?)

Today’s unlimited information makes the boundedness of bookcases profoundly comforting. My inner librarian is also soothed by arranging books. When my young children go to bed and I’m confronted by their daunting mess, my favourite activity is tidying their bookcase.
*looks around at piles on floor* And not even the excuse of having small children.

Me, myself, today, I was actually doing something that might be considered my inner archivist at work - going through what I cannot even with any accuracy describe as my files, to bring some order into various matters of life admin, accumulated over a considerable period. The cobblers' children...

DW mobile-friendly style

Jul. 17th, 2017 08:18 am
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
I cannot figure out how to navigate the DW style chooser thing at all.

Is there an out-of-the-box DW style that has comment pages with bigger usernames on the comments listing than Tropospherical? Or, are you using an out-of-the-box style, and does it play nice on small screens? If so, which one?

(This is part of my project of trying to be on DW more.)

(no subject)

Jul. 17th, 2017 09:08 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] snippy!

fiber monday

Jul. 16th, 2017 08:04 pm
thistleingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] thistleingrey
Though I don't remember which day, I taught myself from books to knit about ten years ago this month (and to crochet ~21 years ago likewise). yay.

The ghost shawl has been bound off and washed, and its upper edge has been reinforced. Reason adores its colors and shape, whereas I feel awkward however I drape it, but it seems a bit too nice for her current age. Pondering. In any case, its shape---a triangle so wide and springy that one could block the upper edge as a curve or V---is instructive when tied onto me or Reason: if I ever knit Shore Hap, as I mean to, I'll need to enlarge it. Shore Hap's span is given as 125 cm = 50 in; the ghost as knitted is ~6'6 = nearly 2 m across. Even so, my sticklike and short torso can barely tie on the ghost shawl in the Shore Hap photo's manner. Inconvenient shoulders, again---but I'm learning. (Someone with my shoulder circumference "ought" to be much taller for something the ghost shawl's shape/size.)

Viajante's yarn ball is too large for my business trip. Heh. It's the size of a small adult head---1600 m = 400 g at fingering weight. When I have a 32L-capacity daypack (a bit under 2000 in3), I don't want to choose between yarn and some me-compatible snacks. Instead, the current office project will travel (Rendezvous), since it's in the first of its slated two 100g skeins. Its complexity is restrained by my having placed a marker every other motif-repetition; at least it's motif-driven, not two long segments of lace to either side of a center stitch. Those are my two projects on wooden circular needles---that's the other consideration, of course, wood needles short enough to pass muster as non-weaponry. Who knows whether Rendezvous will be large enough for the shoulders of doom, frankly, but I chose the largest size for which I have yarn....

The cardigans are on hold due to summer heat, though I ought to start my mother's soon regardless. Lena is about 15 cm high---round and round we go.
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
I made a couple long comments elsewhere and I should archive them somewhere less ephemeral, for reference.

on defining fanfic )

on deciding whether to become a parent )

on forcing a Kindle Fire to my will

Jul. 16th, 2017 09:21 pm
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
I bought the cheapest 8" Amazon tablet on sale this week for $50, because my fairly-new unloved tablet had problems and I had determined to save it only for reading comics and watching video, but it was getting worse and worse, and it was only $50. [*]

So far it's about what I expected--lousy screen, flimsy (the door for the SD card is not going to last the week--but it works. I will report back in more detail later.

The real point of this post is to link to two things:

1) how to install the Google Play store, so you can keep your paid-through-Google apps, which works just fine and does not use require use of adb or anything more complex;

2) how to install a launcher of your choice (I'm using Nova Launcher). I believe I had to power the device off and then back on before the home button detection option came on, but now it works just fine.

[*] It was a NVIDIA Shield K1, which has recently been discontinued; though old, it got good reviews across the board even in current roundups, and so I suspect I got a lemon, because it was a piece of shit from day one. Rebooting itself nearly daily during ordinary use, this exciting nonsense on a system update, etc. etc. Then a hairline crack on the screen edge dramatically expanded, rendering the area containing home and recent buttons unresponsive in the ordinary orientation, so use required constantly flipping, plus once you've got that much of a crack it's just a matter of time. I'll be putting it up on eBay for parts soon.

Culinary

Jul. 16th, 2017 08:19 pm
oursin: Frontispiece from C17th household manual (Accomplisht Lady)
[personal profile] oursin

Bread during the week: brown oatmeal.

Saturday breakfast rolls: from the wholewheat nut bread recipe in James Beard, cutting down on the amount of sweetener he seems to think necessary - sugar AND honey!!! Nice. Haven't made these for yonks.

We stayed in Saturday evening and I made the following meal: starter of healthy-grilled asparagus and hard(ish)-boiled quails' eggs, sprinkled with a dukkah-type dry dressing of toasted sesame and sunflower seeds + pinenuts, crushed in a mortar; then smoked swordfish (which I had happened to spot in the organic butchers/fishmongers), which I served with ground black pepper and lemon, and a couscous and raisins salad dressed with lemon juice and olive oil, heritage tomatoes sliced and tossed in wild pomegranate vinegar with salt, sugar and basil (maybe it's me, but do heritage tomatoes, whatever their colour and shape, all taste like tomatoes?), and a hot cucumber pickle thing from one of my books of Japanese cooking - cut the cucumber in 4 lengthways, cut out the seeds, chop into batons, stirfry briefly in sesame oil with dried chile, add a mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar (recipe also says salt, which I consider supererogatory with soy sauce) cook briefly, and leave to marinate for a bit.

Today's lunch: duck steaks, panfried and then rested as per instructions on packet, with Greek spinach rice (for some reason the rice was a bit too al dente), okra simmered with ginger, coriander and fish sauce, and padron peppers.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
My Tweets for this panel were 50% despair at being unable to catch the names of things, as I said in the prior placeholder version of the post. However! Robert Killheffer put together this very thorough list, with links, of stuff mentioned at the panel, and gave me permission to share it! I have tried to revise my panel notes into something with minimal overlap with the document, so please do consult both.

S.A. Chakraborty, Haris Durrani, Robert Killheffer, Darcie Little Badger, Susan Matthews (leader)
Discussions of "genre classics" tend to focus mainly on modern Western works. This panel will discuss proto-genre narratives from antiquity and the pre-modern and early modern era in the world beyond Western Europe, including not only myths and legends but early authored works such as the Hamzanama (The Adventures of Amir Hamza), the Baital Pachisi (Vikram and the Vampire), and Fengshen Yanyi (The Creation of the Gods).

Read more... )

There, that's better. Thanks again to all the panelist, and especially Robert for compiling the list.

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