Archive for August, 2015

August 30, 2015

Of Interest (30 August, 2015)

I’ve not done this for a couple of weeks, so this may possibly be long. Possibly.

 

Books:

This conversation between Ethan Robinson and Kip Manley and everything that either of them links to is wonderful (and they are wonderful).

And so Chughtai constantly invites scrutiny”.  Tahira Naqvi, here

M. Asli Dukan gives me the critical term I needed in the White Fantastic Imagination.

Young Black Writers: After Michael Brown (via Kate Schapira)

Slightly in love with Akwaeke Emezi’s prose. Via the Blaft twitter account.

“How did you ever get away with it?” Gwyneth Jones’s letter to James Tiptree Jr.

Aseem Shrivastava on Premchand in the Caravan (Via Chapati Mystery)

Jamaica Kincaid on James Baldwin

 

Serena Williams:

This piece by Claudia Rankine is the best thing you’ll read this week and I can’t believe you haven’t already, if you haven’t already.

Brian Philips on Williams (by way of Christopher Logue)

Mallory Ortberg wrote commemorative fanfiction of Serena Williams and Drake’s relationship (this is just a very good week for Williams-related writing, okay?)

 

Neither Books Nor Serena:

Nanjala Nyabola on Europe’s empathy crisis.

Hannah Black on social media, performance, violence.

Europeans attempt to draw elephants (via Richard Palmer)

More elephants! By Arati Rao.

Nadika on online dating while trans (via Supriya Nair)

There’s so much in this piece by Kate Schapira that I want to  yes but at and it’s wonderful.

Natalia Cecire on Apple, Google, modernism and childhood. (Via what felt like half the world, and you’ve probably seen it already, and it’s fantastic)

Kuzhali Manickavel watches some exotic occidental movies.

Bats inside carnivorous plants! (via Kate Schapira) (“where is my mutualism partner?”)

Nilakantan R.S. on the desertification of Tamil Nadu.

 

August 9, 2015

Of Interest (9 August, 2015)

 

Books:

Jeff VanderMeer reads Clarice Lispector’s Complete Stories.

Ainehi Edoro on Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon (which I wrote about here); this piece says particularly good things about the novel’s claiming of SF for Africa (and this strikes me as a very different thing to the reverse, claiming certain African narratives for SF)

Diana Fuss on Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal and “the interpretive work of being human“.

This interview with Juliana Spahr is short but great and involves a reading. (And I’m indebted to Sridala for my copy of This Connection of Everyone With Lungs a few years ago)

Mahesh Rao writes a sex scene.

H is for Hawk is one of those books I had to keep closing and kept cutting too close and I may link to a million reviews of it and here is one by Dinah Lenney.

If colonialism was the apocalypse, what comes next?

 

Not books:

Supriya Nair wrote about cricket advertising in India and it is wonderful. I would read anything she ever wrote (I probably have read her shopping lists) but Supriya on sport is probably one of my favourite things in the world. (See also this piece on the football World Cup from last year)

This interview with Elysia Crampton (via Ethan Robinson) is astonishing and beautiful. “[...] not only how to make sense of this split within me, but how to live successfully with such a split, knowing that it goes all the way down, cutting up subjectivities, negating false claims to nativity, erasing naturalities, denouncing binaries all by my mere existing, making everything queer.”

Via Eric Gurevitch, this podcast discussing  societies’ historical relationships with elephants in India and other places. This should probably come under books because Thomas Trautmann (on the podcast) has written one about this, but. Elephants!

Taran N. Khan on wearing and not wearing the shameez.

There’s something deeply gratifying about seeing one’s culture as of the moment.” Navneet Alang on Buzzfeed, virality, cultural imperialism and resistance (I have conflicted feelings about this one).

Prachi Patankar on yoga, Hinduism and cultural appropriation.

Malcolm Harris thinks you should probably maybe stop trying to have sex with robots.

I am so, so glad of Sara Ahmed.Via Kawrage on tumblr.

 

August 3, 2015

July Reading

I’m still having trouble reading actual books; at the moment I have, unfinished, Indra Das’s The Devourers, Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceeding the End of the World, Andrea Hairston’s Lonely Stardust, Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, Sarah Tolmie’s NoFood, and B. Catling’s The Vorrh; and these are all things I want to read, and some of them I love already and yet. It’s probably the largest number of books I’ve ever had on the go at once, and it’s getting a bit embarrassing.

Most of the reading I did manage to do this month was work-related (and most of it rereads); hence the distinctly mid-century-British-ness of this list. Still.

 

Mary Norton, The Borrowers, The Borrowers Afield: I have so many things I want to say about these books, particularly the first. Some of them aren’t even about empire, though it’s more littered with imperial detritus than I could have imagined. Will possibly be writing more, but after the last few months of struggling to write, perhaps it’s best not to even suggest it.

Rupa Gulab, Daddy Come Lately: Middle-Grade-ish book about a child who learns that her parents are divorced, that her dad’s moving back to town, that her mother has been keeping the fact of her existence secret. It’s all rather melodramatic, and there are things it does well, but (in a future column, maybe) there are several things about it that make me roll my eyes.

Robin Stevens, First Class Murder: The most recent Wells and Wong book (I wish the publisher would make up their minds whether these were the Wells and Wong mysteries or Murder Most Unladylike mysteries; they’ve been very inconsistent)–and a locked room (cabin) murder on the Orient Express. It’s set shortly after the publication of Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, which Daisy Wells has of course read, and so this is more directly intertextual than even the first book in the series. It’s lacking some of the weight that the first two have–both those earlier books switch easily between  charming golden-age pastiche and actual human feeling, this was mostly just the former. Which still made it an utter joy to read.

Monica Dickens, The House At World’s End: I saw that this was a 1970 book about a family having adventures in a huge house and thought it was more relevant to my work than it turned out to be. Not the waste of  time it might have been, though, because there’s a lot about this that I really liked–the slight off-kilter-ness of the family (I described it as Nesbittish, early on) and of the language, the earnest, know-it-all girl with badly thought out ideas, the weird lack of consequences to any of the children’s actions, the sudden, occasional reminder that these children are grieving and badly supervised. I don’t know if I have the time to hunt down and read the rest of the series at this point, but maybe omeday.

T.H. White, Mistress Masham’s Repose: This is good, and it is funny and biting and honest and has these moments that just are T.H. White–like the throwaway detail of the vicar who always chooses the nastiest cake at teatime. It’s also annoyingly hard not to reduce to allegory.

Lucy Boston, The Children of Green Knowe: I think I love this a bit less than last time I read it, though it’s still very good.

E.E. Cowper, Camilla’s Castle: Felt a bit inconsequential. Run down castle in almost-Ruritanian space, large family fallen on hard times (and equipped with at least one very precocious child), smuggling, English girls who have honour, foreigners who don’t (but are at least relatively upper-class)–it takes all the tropes of its genre and … doesn’t do very much with them.

Joan Aiken, The Five-Minute Marriage: You know (if you’ve been here longer than five minutes) that I love Aiken, and that I love regencies. And yet, having read one of Aiken’s Austen-sequels and chosen to steer well clear of the others, I know that there are areas of her work I’m better off not reading. I just can’t decide whether this original romance is one of them. I find romances featuring sardonic misogynists (you don’t understand, a woman hurt him once!), gentlewomen who have to (horrors) earn their living despite being obviously better than the working classes, and fake marriages all very satisfying and comforting as romance tropes, however deplorable they may be in real life and the book provides all of these, alongside attempted murder and duels on slippery roofs (do they not know about terraces? complained my friend Dala). And yet it’s leaden, there’s no humour or even charm, and this is a genre where at least one of those things is necessary. It’s no Heyer, is what I’m saying. It’s not even bad Heyer, I mean Regency Buck is better. And yet, I needed a comforting regency romance and I suppose I got one, so I’m not going to condemn it entirely.

James Tiptree Jr, The Starry Rift: I’ll be discussing this as part of a Strange Horizons book club next month. But unrelated to anything I might say there: I’ve discovered that  “The Only Neat Thing To Do” was published in the month of my birth. I’m always particularly fond of books that are the same age as me (the other stories, and the book as a whole, were published the year after, but I’m claiming this one anyway).

August 2, 2015

Of Interest (2 August, 2015)

Unsorted: 

“This is a story about bindis, I think”. Vijeta Kumar on Arundhati, saris, and being the protagonist. (I’m still waiting for someone to write the Baahubali-as-epic-fantasy, so can you get on that, world?)

Via Kate Schapira, this story which kind of looks like the sort of fiction she writes but is real.

Manan Ahmed Saif in the Caravan on histories of partition.

a kind of historical daybreak“; Nayanjot Lahiri on Asoka’s stone edicts, also in the Caravan.

Evan Smith on the Communist Party and its role in Britain’s anti-racist movement.

Why can’t people imagine a future without falling into the sexist past?” (You all already know the answer to this one though)

Lavelle Porter on Henry Dumas, Afrofuturism, #BlackLivesMatter, via Sofia Samatar. This is great.

[This is a space I'm leaving for an appropriately Important-feeling piece on the death of Yakub Memon (suggestions welcome)]

Always revisit this piece by Kristin Cashore on Jansson’s Moomins. Always revisit the Moomin books.

David Thomson’s review of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night made me very happy.

I’d like to start our time together with a moment of breath and awareness for this work and what we are holding.”