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[books] What I’ve been reading lately

Books read recently (alpha by author)

So Great a Light, So Great a Smoke: The Beguin Heretics of Languedoc (Conjunctions of Religion and Power in the Medieval Past) by Louisa A. Burnham
The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
The Solitudes by John Crowley
The Good Humor Man by Andrew Fox
Making Money by Terry Pratchett (reread)
Corpse: Nature, Forensics, and the Struggle to Pinpoint Time of Death; by Jessica Snyder Sachs
Slights by Kaaron Warren

Books currently being read:
The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen
The Confidence Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville (really)

Books on deck to be read shortly:

Engine Summer by John Crowley
Julian Comstock: A Story of the 22nd Century by Robert Charles Wilson

[books] So Great a Light, So Great a Smoke

On this trip I read So Great a Light, So Great a SmokePowell’s | Amazon ] by Louisa A. Burnham. This is a fairly brief history of the Beguin heretics of Languedoc, an early fourteenth century movement which was stifled effectively by the Inquisition. (And tangentially figures into Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose.) This is a fairly scholarly book which I read simply for the sake of something interesting well outside my usual splash zone. It was interesting in an intellectual sense, though more scholarly than popular, so didn’t have the same reading buzz as the narrative nonfiction which has been so prevalent in recent years. (This is not a criticism, just an observation.)

I certainly learned more than I ever thought to know about Franciscans, the politics and practices of the Inquisition, life in Medieval France and sundry other details. Fascinating stuff at the detail level which will certainly inform my thinking and writing in the future. I also learned some new words, such as “macaronic” and “archiepiscopal”, and new terms, such as “Angel of Philadelphia” — that last definitely a story title waiting to happen.

Interesting stuff, worth my time, and much as with my recent reading of Corpse, about the history of forensic pathology and time-of-death estimates, definitely gave my brain a jolt of different-from-the-usual. Which was, of course, the point.

[books] The Good Humor Man by Andrew Fox

The Good Humor Man by Andrew Fox

Whilst jetting about Asia, I had the chance to read The Good Humor Man by Andrew Fox, from Tachyon Books April, 2009 [ Powell’s | Amazon ]. This book is possessed of a wall-eyed insanity reminding me of Matt Ruff or Nick Harkaway, yet, not far beneath the apocalyptic Elvis humor and Beverly Hills plastic surgeon jokes is a serious, almost painful road novel about an old man saving himself by saving the world through the King’s last miracle.

The really interesting thing to me about this book is exactly that contrast: how the gonzo premise and crazy voice of the story can pull focus from the very entertaining front end it presents to the thoughtful meditation on equality, opportunity and (quite seriously) what it means to be fat in a world of privation. The jacket copy compares it to Fahrenheit 451, but I’ll go with a blend of Don Quixote and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

An edgy, crazy read which is a lot of fun. Check it out.

[books] One of those funny author moments

At PDX, waiting for my plane to SFO, I wandered into the Powell’s Books in terminal C. Three faced copies of the mmpb of Escapment Powell’s | Amazon ], one spine-out copy of the mmpb of Mainspring Powell’s | Amazon thb | Audible ]. W00t, I think, I am in Powell’s at the airport!

I go to the counter to ask the gal there if she’d like me to sign them. She says sure, so I grab the stock and head back to the counter, and she says, “I know who you are, I have you friended on LJ.” It was cute and funny. I, of course, misheard her LJ handle, so I can’t shout it out here, but if you’re reading, nice Powell’s bookseller, say “hey” in comments. We talked for a minute about supporting local authors, then I signed and moved on.

That moment was fun and funny and cute and even a bit sweet. Made my afternoon, at any rate.

Now, off to San Francisco, , and matters literary with tomorrow.

[books] Camille Alexa’s Push of the Sky; Jay Lake’s Endurance

On the flight back from Dallas, I finished reading Push of the Sky, a short fiction collection by . (I’m writing the foreword, which is why I have a prerelease copy.) May I say, “wow”. You guys won’t want to miss this one. “Shades of White and Road” really blew me away, but there’s a lot of strong work here.

In other news, I’ve finished my second pass at the Endurance outline. That will be going out to readers Real Soon Now.

And now, to zzz for me.

[books] An important note about Pinion

Just a quick peek inside the sausage factory here, along with a huge “thank you.”

has a book entitled Pinion which is currently going through the contracting process, through our shared agent, . When , and I were hammering through possible production titles for Tourbillon, I came up with Pinion without realizing was already using it.

Titles aren’t copyrighted, and books with similar (or identitical) titles are endemic. But none of us wanted to step on . So we checked production schedules and other likely points of confusion, then asked if she minded that I use Pinion for the third Mainspring book.

Quite graciously, she agreed.

So here is a big shout-out and a thank you to , who is a Hero of the Revolution and will get some love in the book, besides.

[books] Pinion

Tourbillon has acquired an official production title of Pinion. That makes the three book arc:

  • Mainspring (Tor, 2007)
  • Escapement (Tor, 2008)
  • Pinion (Tor, 2010)

And so we rock on.

[books] Reading a little bit of this and that

I have recently read three forthcoming books for blurb, and enjoyed them all in substantially different ways. ‘s Passion Play (a very artful and elegant secondary world fantasy with some pleasing similarities to ‘s Long Price Quartet); ‘s Buffalito Destiny (a funny, slapdash SF adventure combining the Mayan eschaton, radical environmentalism, and Schoen’s delightfully cockeyed sense of humor); and Black Blade Blues by (a very appealing Norse-derived urban fantasy set in the Seattle area). I’ve also promised to look at a novel by .

I think that about fills up my blurb quotient for the year. I will consider further requests, but will be very picky indeed about investing the time and focus required to do a decent blurb. Still, it’s fun, and I love supporting newer writers.