Please share opinions on any of these, should you be familiar with them:

Elegy for Iris, by John Bayley. Memoir by Iris Murdoch's husband, of their life together and her slow decline due to Alzheimer's. I'm sure it will be incredibly depressing, but a peek inside convinced me to buy it: it's really, really well-written.

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You: A Novel, by Peter Cameron. Mainstream YA novel, though it looks like it's borderline adult. I love the title, and the first page is in a similar style.

Night Gate: The Gateway Trilogy Book One and Winter Door: The Gateway Trilogy Book Two, by Isobelle Carmody. YA fantasy; the third book does not seem to exist, or at least not yet. Love the premise: a teenage girl whose best friends are her four dogs goes through a magical gateway into fantasyland, where her dogs are transformed into humans with similar personalities to their doggy selves. Links to inexpensive Kindle editions.

The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece (P.S.), by Edward Dolnick. Nonfiction about the brazen theft of "The Scream;" looks really fun. Discounted on Amazon.

Deathworld (Wildside Edition), by Harry Harrison. I am a sucker for "everything on this planet can kill you!" Only 99 cents on Kindle.

The Icarus Girl, by Helen Oyeyemi. Mainstream magic realism about a Nigerian/English girl with a creepy best friend. I'm guessing the best friend is ambiguously a spirit/folklore being/imaginary. I've heard good things about this.

Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language, by Katherine Russell Rich. (Currently discounted to $6.00.) Memoir by American woman who moves to Udaipur (a city in Rajasthan) to study Hindi. It looks like it pays a lot of attention to the process of learning a second language as an adult.

A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America, by Ronald Takaki. A history of America in terms of its non-dominant groups: Asian-Americans, Irish-Americans, Jews, Indians, etc. I've read portions of this before, but not the whole thing. What I've read was well-written and detailed, and did a good job of pulling together many different perspectives to give a broad yet personal view of America.

Gentlemen's Alliance +, Vol. 1, by Arina Tanemura. Fluffy-looking shoujo manga. In return for a business loan of 50 million yen, the prestigious Kamiya family gave their daughter Haine away to the Otomiya family. Haine, now an Otomiya, is appointed to the student council of the exclusive Imperial Academy, a private school for the aristocracy. Even though Haine is of proper lineage to be on the council, she finds herself struggling to find her place among the many secrets of its elite members, especially those of the president who holds her heart--Shizumasa Togu, aka "the Emperor.
kore: (Default)

From: [personal profile] kore

OMG the Iris Murdoch memoir no no no. It's really awful -- he completely infantilizes her and just reveals her in all her addled dementia to the world, and it's really not that insightful about caretaking or grieving the person who's gone while they're still there, either. It made me want to throw the book across the room and Bayley with it. Terrible.
thistleingrey: (Default)

From: [personal profile] thistleingrey

I'm not surprised by this--I've not read it, but the film version of it (whose production he participated in) could be described thus as well. The film felt like a kind of ruthless attempt to capitalize on her life and death, since it was released very soon after the latter. Sad that the book is no better.
kore: (Default)

From: [personal profile] kore

Yeah, some of the scuttlebutt was, he always knew he wasn't as smart as she was so he kind of relished the chance not just to show her in dementia but to put the emphasis on their non-intellectual love, their childish private language, their squalid house, &c &c. It just really left a bad taste in my brain after reading it. She was such a formidable intellect, and such an amazing writer, it's horrible she got Alzheimer's at all, let alone that her husband and caretaker squeezed several books out of it. (In the sequels he describes all the women falling all over him in sympathy because he was such a good caretaker, &c &c. Really sleazy.)
thistleingrey: (Default)

From: [personal profile] thistleingrey

Oh, ack. And of course one may be both startlingly intelligent and silly at times; it's irksome that his portrayal after the fact seems designed to cancel only the threatening parts.
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (Default)

From: [personal profile] ironed_orchid

I felt that way about the film and decided against reading his books.
branewurms: (Default)

From: [personal profile] branewurms

Icarus Girl is really more magical realism blended with horror - it's deeply, deeply creepy. I love it SO MUCH, although I love Oyeyemi's White is for Witching even more. Also deeply, deeply creepy - and one of my all time favorite books in the world. She was only 17 when she wrote Icarus Girl, and while at the time her prose had a leaning towards the melodious, by the time she got to White is for Witching, it almost literally sings. I'd flailingly recommend all her novels except for Opposite House, which, while certainly beautiful, left me kind of baffled as to the point.
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (elizabeth book)

From: [personal profile] skygiants

Seconded to all of this. I thought Icarus Girl was really, really good, but W is for Witching actually terrified me.
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)

From: [personal profile] forestofglory

I've read Double Victory: A Multicultural History of America in World War II by Ronald Takaki, which simlar to the book you list. I thought it was interesting and well written. Though some bit where very depressing. it was form that book that I learned what a Zoot Suit riot really was. (race riots in LA involving Hispanics wearing zoot suits)
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)

From: [personal profile] owlectomy

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You was originally written for the adult market, it's just that Cameron's agent or publisher thought it would do well as YA.

It's a book I like very much because it's much more literary and much more conflicted and much less didactic than a lot of YA LGBTQ novels.

If I may excerpt a review I wrote a couple years ago:


The narrative voice has a kind of iciness to it, so it takes a while to understand just how sad and frightened and lonely James is; but you see him searching for old houses in the midwest. He does not want to go to college. He wants to sit in his old midwest house and read novels. And, more than anything, he wants to correct people on what they say. It’s what he spends the entire novel doing. They misuse words; they’re not precise enough. His father asks him whether he’s gay. His mother asks him whether he’s gay. He debates the nature of the question with them until, defeated, they accept a change of subject.

James is gay. He deigns to tell us this on page 192, of 228. His fear of intimacy is so great that it extends even to us, the readers.

However, this isn’t a novel about being gay. That may have something to do with how sad and frightened James is, but as James himself admits, he is so far from approaching another human being that his sexuality is two hundred percent theoretical. If anything, it seems symptomatic; James cannot face anything about himself.

This seems to me like the kind of novel I should be ready to criticize for being whiny and emo. Yet somehow it isn’t. James’s voice is stiff and awkward enough that it never reaches that emo-whiny level; you can see the clever swagger on the surface, and you can also see the sadness lurking underneath.
intothespin: Drawing of a woman lying down reading by Kate Beaton (Default)

From: [personal profile] intothespin

Helen Oyeyemi is amazing. The Icarus Girl isn't as good as White is for Witching or Mr. Fox, but it's still got lovely writing and delicate descriptions of girls' friendships and anxiety and depression and houses and ghosts.
starlady: a circular well of books (well of books)

From: [personal profile] starlady

I've not read that particular Oyeyemi, but I've read others and she's great.

From: [identity profile]

I've read excerpts from the book about Iris Murdoch. It is very sad indeed; but her husband steadfastly insisted, at least in the pieces I read, that she never stopped being Iris, and that he found himself frequently at odds with the other people caring for Altzheimer's patients in his support group because, however awful the situation was, he wasn't having the experience that they were.


From: [identity profile]

I have read the Oyeyemi and remember that I liked it, but alas, it is before the days when I was keeping a regular book log and cannot say what I thought in any better detail than that.

From: [identity profile]

I recall really enjoying Deathworld, lo these many moons ago.

From: [identity profile]

Same here!

Don't remember much of it now (and I don't seem to own it anymore, alas) but I have a hazy recollection of it being a very quick, exciting read and quite funny in places.
Sort of solid, dependable, old-fashioned (in a good way) sf.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)

From: [personal profile] larryhammer

Gentlemen's Alliance + is semi-fluffy -- the sexual politics are worse than usual for elite-school shoujo, which was a shame as Tanemura often does fun crack. I bailed halfway through the second volume.


From: [identity profile]

I can't give you an accurate review of Deathworld, but I read it as a kid because my dad loved it and gave me his old worn copy, and I remember loving it too.

Take that with the caveat that I've reread some of the books I read and loved as a kid and not all of them have withstood the test of time, so wee!me's literary tastes are not always to be trusted. But I have fond memories of it.
ext_6981: (Default)

From: [identity profile]

I've read Dreaming in Hindi, and enjoyed it very much. It's been about three years since I read it, but I really liked it.

From: [identity profile]

I have to say that the Iris Murdoch book left me cold; it felt more like a "look at this terrible thing that has happened to me" story than a tribute - which I can completely understand, just as I can understand Bayley needing to write it. I'm just not so sure he should have put it out there.

All just my opinion, of course, and if others find the book moving or interpret it completely differently, well, I'm glad!
(deleted comment)

From: [identity profile]

I'm glad I'm not the only one who had that reaction. I took a look at your comments on the DW post, and agree with everything you said.
alicebentley: Studio photo of me with glasses (Default)

From: [personal profile] alicebentley

I enjoyed Deathworld (and its two sequals) very much when I first read them (I think I was 12) but couldn't get interested when i attempted rereading them decades later.

Gentlemen's Alliance kept my attention well enough that I continued buying new volumes as they came out, but the plot progressed erratically, and I had recurring problems correctly identifying the many characters - a very unusual difficulty for me.

From: [identity profile]

I just read Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi and she is now on my short "FIND AND READ EVERYTHING" list. I bought another copy to send to a friend. I don't do that often.

Very fine writer.

From: [identity profile]

I read 'Dreaming in Hindi' and was a bit so-so on it. I'm glad I read it, but don't feel like I need to own a copy. It's a mix of her personal experiences and research on learning a second language, and I found the research parts much more interesting than her own experiences. For only $6, it's probably worth it!

From: [identity profile]

I read The Icarus Girl recently and was quite impressed. Some beautiful imagery, a really well-drawn central character, and exactly the mix of realism and fantasy that I like best. Oyeyemi's on my must-buy list now too. :)

From: [identity profile]

The Cameron is good. Gay YA novel set in NYC, lots of good exploration about privilege, as I recall.

From: (Anonymous)

I have to sort of disagree with you about the Cameron. Beautifully written, yes; but the protagonist was cypherish and never finally rang true for me. And the treatment of the gay black character both in the novel-world and as a literary construct/conceit was personally nauseating. I threw the book across the room, where it sat sprawled at the foot of the wall for a week or so, until I cooled off enough to finish the book, at which point I was then free to tear it in half and dump it in the trash. (I'm one of those people who's cursed to finish everything).

Kai in NYC

From: [identity profile]

Thanks. These are all books I purchased but haven't read yet, including the Cameron. I literally only read the first page.

From: [identity profile]

Helen Oyeyemi is amazing. The Icarus Girl is really good. White Is For Witching, another book by her, is one of my favourites.

From: [identity profile]

Deathworld is definitely heavy '50's sexist, but if you can deal with that it is fun. Harry Harrison is fun too. We actually had him out to our house for supper. Non stop funny guy. The Stainless Steel Rat is my favorite of his.

From: [identity profile]

I have not read any of these books but I did completely adore another of Isobelle Carmody's YA books, 'Obernewtyn', when I was a teenager. It's sorta a psychic-kids-at-school (in a world that fears and hates them!) book. I do not know how well it would hold up if I re-read it now, but I have very fond memories of it. I recall being less impressed by some of her other books though.

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