So I’ve been a bit lax about updating as I finish books. Oops. But, since I last posted, I’ve read five books, so I’m SUPER BEHIND on writing out my thoughts. But [rolls up sleeves] time to get to work.
First, it’s a beautiful day today and I want to go sit outside and tan/give myself skin cancer, but I’m going to get through this first. Although, “get through this” sounds unpleasant, like I don’t enjoy talking about books I’m reading/have read. Which is a hideous lie. I just sometimes worry that my thoughts aren’t, well, very intelligent? Or, rather, very surface level. But sometimes I don’t want to think too deeply about what I’m reading, which is kind of a shame. So I’ll try to dig a little deeper in my memory to make this worthwhile, although most of these books are back at the library, so I can’t dig through for additional quotes.
First, up: Scattered at Sea by Amy Gerstler. (My Goodreads review here.) I was introduced to Gerstler by a college poetry professor telling me that one of my winter poems reminded her of Gerstler’s “Bear-Boy of Lithuania.” Which I definitely took as a compliment. And then I never checked out any of her writing again. So, that’s not great. But I didn’t love Scattered. I enjoyed pieces of it, the Womanishness section was excellent, and there’s a great line about ball skin (“Fascinated by (but not covetous of) their crepey ball-skin, crenulated like brains, or walnut hulls, or iguana hide on a rich dude’s shoes”), but overall I don’t know that I was in the right place for this collection. It felt very, well, contemporary in a way I wasn’t expecting. But by contemporary I mean casual and brash and lots of youthful exuberance–almost overboard, if that makes sense. The writing was very energetic and full of imagery, but I think it’s one I need to check out again in six months. (But, entirely unrelated to the text: the cover and interior illustrations are GREAT. I want the mermaid ones tattooed on me.)
I think, with a bit more closer reading, I might have some coherent thoughts about form and the interplay of time, how what I’m thinking of as more “modern” poems might engage with our social trends and the evolution of culture. Especially the Womanishness section–I think there’s a lot to unpack there if I had the patience and, really, inclination at this time to do a little heavy thinking. There’s also likely an interesting angle to take with the title and how the poems reflect a sort of “at sea” feeling, a sense of being lost and not put together, of maybe feeling adrift until we can put ourselves back together. I’m not ready to dig like that, though, so this line of thought will have to wait.
Next: Marie Brennan’s Cold-Forged Flame. (My GR review here.) This novella was a lot of fun and really just perfect for poolside reading. At only 100 pages, I didn’t mind being dropped into a world without any information, same as the protagonist, and left to discover things with her. Really, it hits a lot of notes that are good for me: magic, strong female character capable of defending herself, did I mention magic?, and hints at interesting world-building beyond what we can see. (Guys, there’s an island that is only visible/reachable during certain times and I’m really here for that.) I enjoyed the writing–crisp, evocative, and pace-pushing–and am now eager to read Brennan’s Memoirs of Lady Trent series.
Up next: The Creative Spark (Fuentes) and Too Much and Not the Mood (Chew-Bose).