Niven Govinden, Black Bread White Beer, 2012

Thursday, 17 August 2017 10:37 am
yatima: (Default)
[personal profile] yatima posting in [community profile] 50books_poc
Ian McEwan's acclaimed novels On Chesil Beach and Saturday both take place over the course of a single day, in an improbably lily-white version of England. Race-bending this formula is the fundamentally good idea beneath Black Bread White Beer. When we meet Amal and his white wife Claud, they have just lost a pregnancy in the first trimester, but they go ahead and visit Claud's parents in East Sussex as planned.

The novel is at its sharpest and funniest when Amal is reporting his Pakistani parents' reactions to his horrible in-laws:
‘What she means is, we wish you all the luck in the world, Amal, but you must watch your back. Her people look like a bunch of backstabbers. Never trust them for an instant.’

There are also some moving passages where Amal imagines what he and Claud would be like as parents:
Theirs would not be paraded about like Sussex show ponies. There were plenty of cool, funky children they could take as their template.

or what their lives would be like child-free:
They could buy a holiday home abroad. Two. One on each hemisphere if that is what would make her happy. He racks his mind to think of the childless couples they know – not the kids from the office; guys their age and older – but cannot dredge any up. In their immediate circle, there are no trailblazers, only conformists. No matter. They are taste makers, she and him. They can set the precedent.

As with McEwan, though, I found these characters difficult to warm to. Amal and Claud both struck me as joyless corporate drones, preoccupied with status, their world devoid of beauty and pleasure. A technically adroit book, but not for me.

Aziz Ansari, Modern Romance, 2015

Thursday, 17 August 2017 10:01 am
yatima: (Default)
[personal profile] yatima posting in [community profile] 50books_poc
I loved Aziz Ansari in Parks and Recreation and I revere his own series, Master of None. The "Thanksgiving" episode of Master of None is one of the best things I have ever seen on television. So I picked up Modern Romance with some enthusiasm.

In a classic Tom Haverford move, rather than just write the obligatory you-have-succeeded-as-a-comedian-on-TV book (Bossypants, Girl Walks Into a Bar, I'm Just a Person, Paddle Your Own Canoe, Self-Inflicted Wounds, The Bedwetter, Yes Please... yeah, it's a genre), Ansari teamed up with Stanford sociologist Eric Klinenberg to figure out both why technologically-mediated dating is such an unrelieved horror show and, reading between the lines, why Ansari was finding it difficult to meet a nice woman.

The resulting book reminded me a bit of Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything in that it's as curious and interesting as it is funny. Ansari's quizzical sweetness shines especially in his reporting on the specific dating scenes in Buenos Aires, Doha, Paris and Tokyo.
In Japan, posting any pictures of yourself, especially selfie-style photos, comes off as really douchey. Kana, an attractive, single twenty-nine-year-old, remarked: “All the foreign people who use selfies on their profile pic? The Japanese feel like that’s so narcissistic.” In her experience, pictures on dating sites would generally include more than two people. Sometimes the person wouldn’t be in the photo at all. I asked what they would post instead.

“A lot of Japanese use their cats,” she said.

“They’re not in the photo with the cat?” I asked.

“Nope. Just the cat. Or their rice cooker.”

“I once saw a guy posted a funny street sign,” volunteered Rinko, thirty-three. “I felt like I could tell a lot about the guy from looking at it.”

This kind of made sense to me. If you post a photo of something interesting, maybe it gives some sense of your personality? I showed a photo of a bowl of ramen I had taken earlier in the day and asked what she thought of that as a profile picture. She just shook her head. OH, I GUESS I CAN’T HOLD A CANDLE TO THAT STREET SIGN DUDE, HUH?

For me, the most engaging part of the book was seeing insights that later ended up as jokes in Master of None. I endorse and seek to emulate this kind of creative reuse! As for meeting a nice woman, the gossip rags tell me that Ansari was in a relationship with pastrychef Courtney McBloom for a while, but they parted amicably last year. So it goes.

She was the Sickle; I, poor I, the Rake...

Sunday, 13 August 2017 08:34 pm
sanguinity: woodcut by M.C. Escher, "Snakes" (Default)
[personal profile] sanguinity
It's our twenty-fourth anniversary today. We celebrated by walking down to the Delta tonight and having foofy drinks and fried food. (Oysters, yum!) We're both complete lightweights, so after [personal profile] grrlpup got table-pounding emotional about how Haymitch screwed over Katniss (I did not know she had such strong opinions about Haymitch and Katniss!) we got very silly singing along to Billy Idol and the Eurythmics and other '80s greats that they were piping overhead. Our very pretty, very glam waitress did not laugh behind her hand at us, not one bit.

Then we walked on to Cloud City and cut the line to buy moderately expensive ice-cream to eat in front of the TV, which we will do Real Soon Now.

Sometime during all this we also encountered a very nice old dog who wanted to play, and that was delightful, even though the dog's human eventually put a kibosh on the random-cheerful-greeting-of-strangers-on-the-sidewalk, boo.

Back in '93, we picked mid-August for our ceremony because 1) we couldn't afford any place that charged money, and 2) mid-August is during our nearly-contractual Six Weeks It Doesn't Rain in Portland, so it ought to have been safe to hold the affair in a public park. Unfortunately for our most excellent planning, 1993 was The Year that Summer Never Came: it rained on us that day, as it had rained nearly every day that summer.

This morning we woke up to rain, too.

After coffee, we walked over to give the chickens some fresh strawberry tops, but the chickens were still shut up safe from the terrible, awful drizzle and thus were forced to watch yearningly while we dumped our strawberry tops through the fence for them to have later. (Such sad chickens!) We thought it'd be nice to go for a walk in Kenilworth Park at some point today (Kenilworth was where we had our reception), but between one kind of shilly-shallying and another, we never quite got around to it.

Which is fine. It was a lovely languid day with my Sweetie, and that's just about as perfect as a day can be.

The Summer Prince

Sunday, 13 August 2017 11:38 am
wild_irises: (Default)
[personal profile] wild_irises posting in [community profile] 50books_poc
[personal profile] yatima has been carrying all the water around here, and shouldn't have to.

Earlier this week, I finished Alaya Dawn Johnson's The Summer Prince. I have had this book by my bed for months and months and months. I would pick it up, read some, like it, and then get distracted. Finally, I decided it was too good for that kind of treatment and got serious about moving through it.

It is an excellent and fascinating book, even though it never really grabbed me. The worldbuilding is awesome and the depiction of the inner lives of teenagers, affected by the different world they live in and nonetheless completely recognizable as the teenagers of our times, is especially well done. The The prose is beautiful and the evocation of the city is outstanding. The setting is a post-apocalyptic Brazil and effectively everyone is (from our perspective) PoC; Johnson explores class divisions and to some extent national divisions, but the key cultural rift she explores is age.

I can't quite figure out why it didn't have momentum for me, and I expect that will be different for other people. I found it well worth the comparatively slow going, and will probably re-read it at some point. 



F. C. Yee, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, 2017

Saturday, 12 August 2017 04:07 pm
yatima: (Default)
[personal profile] yatima posting in [community profile] 50books_poc
Australians of my generation have a particular reason to be fond of Journey to the West and it is the gloriously daft Japanese adaptation that was replayed endlessly on after-school TV. (For many queer Australians of my generation, myself included, Masako Natsume, the woman who played Tripitaka, is a pivotal figure in our secret lives.) The Monkey King resurfaces in Gene Luen Yang's graphic novel American Born Chinese, one of the books that taught my younger kid to read. (I was especially touched when in Yang's book, the three wise men who attended the birth of Jesus turned out to be Monkey and his friends Sandy and Pigsy. I'm a sucker for good crossover fanfic.)

All this to say that The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is yet another delightful take on Journey to the West, this time set in the hyper-competitive high schools of the Bay Area. Monkey is now Quentin, a handsome, short, brilliant and very annoying teenager who kept reminding me of Miles Vorkosigan, in a good way. Genie herself has a surprising connection with him, but is a three-dimensional character in her own right, with a sense of honor and complicated relationships with her parents and friends. Her efforts to balance college applications with supernatural obligations had a Buffy-ish resonance, and the various Gods and demons showing up in modern America will please Neil Gaiman fans. I found this a quick and enjoyable read.
yatima: (Default)
[personal profile] yatima posting in [community profile] 50books_poc
"Welcome to the Middle-Aged Orphans Club," writes Sherman Alexie, and as a middle-aged orphan myself, I did feel welcome, and seen, and understood. In July, Alexie cancelled part of his book tour because of complicated grief and being haunted by his late mother: "I don’t believe in ghosts," he writes. "But I see them all the time." Me too, brother.

Like Bad Indians, this is an intricate quilt of a book, part memoir, part poem, part dream. It's hard to imagine how it could be otherwise. The loss of a parent is a loss of meaning. For indigenous people, this is doubly true. Lillian Alexie was one of the last fluent speakers of Salish. Her death robs her son, and the world, of an entire universe.

This book, like Hawking radiation, is an almost-undetectable glow of meaning escaping from a black hole. If you haven't lost a parent yet it might be too much to bear, but if you have, it might feel like joining a group of survivors around a campfire after a catastrophe.

IN AUGUST 2015, as a huge forest fire burned on my reservation, as it burned within feet of the abandoned uranium mine, the United States government sent a representative to conduct a town hall to address the growing concerns and fears. My sister texted me the play-by-play of the meeting. “OMG!” she texted. “The government guy just said the USA doesn’t believe the forest fire presents a serious danger to the Spokane Indian community, even if the fire burns right through the uranium mine.”

...“Is the air okay?” I texted. “It hurts a little to breathe,” my sister texted back. “But we’re okay.” Jesus, I thought, is there a better and more succinct definition of grief than It hurts a little to breathe, but we’re okay?

(no subject)

Thursday, 10 August 2017 08:12 am
sanguinity: woodcut by M.C. Escher, "Snakes" (Default)
[personal profile] sanguinity
It's supposed to start cooling off tomorrow, and maybe MAYBE I'll start sleeping again. (We have AC and a basement, so too-hot-to-sleep is technically a solvable problem, but [personal profile] grrlpup hates sleeping in AC and I hate sleeping hot and we both hate sleeping separately. So it's been a whole bunch of non-optimal compromises, and I'm usually not managing more than three-or-so hours sleep at a time. Last night was particularly bad: I got up at 2:30 and I'm still awake, and will be awake at least until I finish teaching tonight at 10pm, woo-hoo.)

But that's not what I wanted to post about.

[community profile] femslashex nominations close today, and they already have many lovely Holmesian options in the tagset: in addition to Sherlock and Elementary, there are Adventures of Shirley Holmes, My Dearly Beloved Detective, eight ACD ships, and crossovers in various directions between MBDB, ACD, and Bert Coules' Further Adventures. [personal profile] phoenixfalls and I nominated a handful of those, but there is at least one more MoreHolmes nominator in the exchange and we don't know who it is. (Hi, hello, do I know you, can we be friends?)

Also, [community profile] acdholmesfest sign-ups close real soon now. Truth be told, I still find that exchange a little intimidating (ACD fandom is just so good at what they do), but nowadays I'm a lot more confident of my ability to write ACD. I know quite a few of the participants now, too, at least enough to say hello to. And it would be a nice way to celebrate having read all of the canon.

But the problem here is that I'm already committed to Remix, [community profile] holmestice happens hard on the heels of both exchanges, and [community profile] festivids overlaps [community profile] holmestice. Altogether, that is a lot, even for my manic "I don't exist unless I'm making something" self. And last fall/winter around about Februrary, I was ready to gnaw my arm off I was so exhausted.

(Although in hindsight, the election probably contributed to my overwhelming fatigue. And we're not due for another of those for another few years.)

UGH, DECISIONS.

(no subject)

Sunday, 6 August 2017 11:29 pm
sanguinity: woodcut by M.C. Escher, "Snakes" (Default)
[personal profile] sanguinity
Assorted fandom things, because otherwise I'll be reduced to posting about our 107-degree heat wave, and even though temps have dropped a bit (high nineties, what we usually call a heat wave), there's really not much you can say about it other than Fuck it's hot and My poor little laptop; this is why I don't vid during the summer.

~ ~ ~


Speaking of vids, [personal profile] seekingferret has finally premiered "Warning: Might Lead to Mixed Dancing"! I'm so happy to see it out in the world -- I've loved it since the very first draft, ages and ages ago, and now you all get to see it, too! It's four minutes and change of joy, and who doesn't need that?

~ ~ ~


[livejournal.com profile] sherlock60 has just finished up its fifth round this weekend. I joined last spring at the beginning of this round, after spending a year or so looking at [personal profile] gardnerhill's ficlets and thinking it all looked very cool. But also, not having read all the canon stories was starting to wear on me, and I couldn't seem to find the motivation to do it on my own? I seem to be the kind of person who enjoys the stories far more as a jumping off place than I enjoy them for themselves.

As it turned out, I wrote only a double-handful of sixties, as I had the worst time swapping out between those ficlets and my other projects; after a couple of months of that, I finally chose to let the sixties go. But I very much enjoyed getting to know everyone, and the historical linkspams were just my kind of catnip. Brava to [personal profile] scfrankles and [personal profile] smallhobbit for all the work they've put into the comm.

And of course, [community profile] sherlock60/[livejournal.com profile] sherlock60 will be starting a new round next week! Just in case anyone feels like joining in. (One can always join in anytime, but for people who like clean jumping-in places...)

~ ~ ~


And on a recommendation from [personal profile] jadelennox, we've been watching the Fast and the Furious movies. At first they were enjoyable but no big? But now the story has gotten big and messy and complicated and I have FEELINGS. (For anyone who wants to discuss in comments, we just finished number six tonight.)
Page generated Thursday, 17 August 2017 09:11 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios