One Hundred Years of Solitude
By: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
This book is weird. Like, super, super weird.
I read it years ago and some of it sticks out in my mind in incredibly vivid detail. Some is just a blur of… weirdness.
But it’s all the best type of weirdness. This book is seriously brilliant. Marquez tells the story of several generations of one family living in one house. It all seems pretty normal at first but… well… I can’t even adequately describe the strange, winding path this story and this family take. You wouldn’t think so much could fit into the story of one family in one house, but that is the least of the surprises you’ll discover here.
Experience this book for yourself, but don’t frustrate yourself taking it super seriously and searching for hidden codes and meanings. I think something this modernist and experimental and loose just needs to be taken as it is. Sit back and relax and let your time reading this book be whatever it wants to be. Daydream. Refocus. Be horrified. Be disgusted. Be delighted. And then… let it go.
This Washington Post article about disability and life in a rural, poor community.
The Washington Post has been doing a ton of articles recently about rural America, or “Trump country,” as we now think of it.
This is one I found particularly interesting and eye-opening. This series of articles by the Post hasn’t been preachy or even all that political. This one mostly just follows one guy through his daily routine. And, man, what a day.
I think things like this are important to read. It’s important to develop empathy. Even as a lot of us sit here thinking, “Part of this country absolutely fucking screwed me,” (which, in fairness, is totally true) I still think it’s worthwhile to understand those people’s lives.
More empathy will never be a bad thing, even if it still results in us being irreconcilably different. I’m not about to go move my queer, blue-haired, atheist self to the deep south, but I still appreciate getting this window into lives that are utterly different from my own.
I’ve been reading a ton of comic books lately and I have to say, it’s not a bad thing. So my recommendation this week is to go to a source of writing that might be uncommon for some.
At worst, comic books can show you how NOT to write dialogue. But at their best the storytelling is clever and the dialogue is worth learning a thing or two from. Writers of comic books work under constraints most of us don’t have to deal with, so it’s valuable to see what they do within the “rules” of their genre.
Some comics I would recommend:
- March: This is a story of the American Civil Rights movement told from the perspective of now-Senator John Lewis, who was deeply involved in the movement. A lot of the writing is narrative, but the weaving of narrative and dialogue is really good.
- Thor: Goddess of Thunder: I absolutely love how they deal with Thor going from a traditionally male role to a female role. They tackle it head on with no apologies.
- Ms Marvel: The mix of playful high school kid lingo and humor and serious cultural issues makes this worth reading. But the book also happens to be a brilliant story written well and accompanied by great art.
There are about a gajillion more examples out there. Instead of following the links I provided above, find your local book or comic book store and buy physical copies in person! There’s nothing like browsing aisles and aisles of books mmm 🙂
Parable of the Sower
Source: Physical book
Another book and author that really don’t need my little blog for promotion, but–
OH MY GOD THIS IS SO GOOD.
I saw this book among a Humble Bundle and purchased the entire bundle just to get it. And, honestly, if it’s the only book I read out of the bundle, it’ll be money well spent.
Not only is the book itself amazing and beautifully written and so hard to put down, but it’s written by a woman of color. Octavia Butler smashed her way into sci-fi and dared anyone to tell her she didn’t belong there. If you don’t think that’s awesome, you probably shouldn’t be bothering with this blog anyway.
The thing with Parable of the Sower, in particular, though, is that it’s eerily… true. It’s eerily real. You see present-day evils taken to their logical next step. It’s frightening and illuminating all at once and I’m tearing through it at record speed.
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Source: Physical magazine
I’ve read fantasy and science fiction for my entire life. The Hobbit is what made me love speculative fiction initially and I never looked back.
Even so, I only recently became a subscriber to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. It’s a well-known and long-running magazine and I finally see why.
I’ve yet to be disappointed with a single issue I’ve gotten. There are a couple duds here and there, but in four issues I believe I’ve skipped maybe two stories total. I’ve bookmarked a lot more than two that were so good that I feel like I MUST look up the author and find more by them.
Some of those include:
- “Those Shadows Laugh” – Geoff Ryman – Sept/Oct 2016 issue
- “A Fine Balance” – Charlotte Ashley – Nov/Dec 2016 issue
- “Passeland” – Robert Reed – Nov/Dec 2016 issue
- “There Used to be Olive Trees” – Rich Larsen – Jan/Feb 2017 issue
- “A Green Silk Dress and a Wedding Death” – Cat Hellisen – March/April 2017 issue
That is only a partial list.
If fantasy and sci-fi aren’t your thing, go find a magazine of short stories for whatever your thing is. I had forgotten how rich and wonderful and fun and complete short fiction can be and this magazine has reignited my love for it.
If you want a sneak peak on the cheap, go to a used books store. You might be able to find an issue. Or go to a B&N and get the latest issue – it’s only like $8. It looks and feels like a book, so don’t go there expecting to find a glossy, thin magazine. This thing is THICK and for good reason.
The “Nevertheless, She Persisted” series from TOR
In celebration of International Women’s Day, TOR, a major publisher of speculative fiction, released a free series on its website of fiction by and about women titled “Nevertheless, She Persisted.”
The link above will take you to all the stories currently available (scroll to the bottom. You’ll find them under “All Posts”). I read all six that were available yesterday and knew I was going to have to recommend this. But when I went back to the site today there were about six more! I ain’t mad.
Every story is short, fantastic and full of a range of inspiring, strong, awesome women (in a broad sense of the term) characters. I don’t want to spoil any of the stories, so that’s all I’ll say about them. Go read them for yourself!
As an aside, the title of the series – “Nevertheless, She Persisted” – comes from a now infamous incident in the senate in which Sen. Elizabeth Warren was silenced while trying to read a letter written by Coretta Scott King, MLK’s widow. Sen. Mitch McConnell silenced her by saying: “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” Several male senators were NOT silenced when they read the very same letter.
Since the incident (which you can see and read about here), the phrase has become something of a rallying cry, especially for feminists. I love the choice of that phrase for the title of a series of stories celebrating and elevating women. It was a brave choice by TOR because the phrase is undeniably political, but I’m glad to see them have that courage. TOR was my favorite publisher before this due to the quality of the work they put out, but this only endeared them further in my heart.
Go read! Then get our there and persist.
Neil Gaiman’s American Gods
Source: His website
Let’s be real: Neil Gaiman doesn’t need my help selling books.
But I’m recommending his “American Gods” novel this week anyway and the reason is simple. It’s about to become a TV show.
I’m a massive advocate of reading the book before the show or movie comes out. You’ll never get back the “pure” experience of reading the book after a show or movie comes out. The act of reading the book will always have been compromised by the show or movie.
So, I’m urging you, before the pictures and spoilers start popping up all over whatever your favorite social media outlet is, go read this. It’s really freakin’ good. Missing out on part of the experience of this book because you waited too long would be… well, it would just make me really sad for you.
I’m not even going to say any more about the book. Just do yourself a favor and get to it before your Facebook feed does.