What I’m reading

I’m one of those wierdos that likes to read a lot of books at once. I like it when a whole bunch of different images collide in my head, and I think that’s part of the way I create new ideas.

So, for the current reading list: Other than my own novel which I’m reading to edit, I am also digging in deep to the trenches of World War 1 with “All Quiet on the Western Front”. This book is awesome — starts out a little weak, but about 80 pages in and BOOM, it becomes astounding.

Also in the in-progress pile are:

– Jaye Wells’ “Green Eyed Demon”, her third foray into Sabina Kane land — action packed and emotionally charged as usual, this time taking over New Orleans.

– Katy Stauber’s “Revolution World” — a novel of bio-punk engineering, video games, and revolution set in the near-term-post-apocalyptic future. Another fun one.

– The New Yorker’s short story collection “20 under 40” — so far I’ve liked 3 out of the 4 stories I’ve read, and I’ve LOVED one of them (“An Honest Exit”, which I mentioned yesterday). Strong writing in all the stories, sure, but there’s a formula to them in a way:

Some kind of emotional conflict/trauma/journey is center stage, brought up to the point of resolution, but instead of resolution there is just a kind of afterward — a lens of sorts, sometimes one paragraph, sometimes three, that tries to bring some kind of transcendence to the piece despite the lack of resolution. Additionally, emotion is usually held at a distance as if with tongs, much like a dead butterfly being examined under a magnifying glass. I mean, it’s pretty (usually), but it’s predictable in a way. Just as hog-tied — if not more — as a sestina or the simplest plot.

This formula only applies to the 4/20 I have read. I’ll see if the same formula holds true for all 20.

New stories and a new favorite

Despite the flurry of editing I have been buried in (and am still buried in), I’ve also had a couple of short stories come out. I’m crossing my fingers that this continues, I’ve been missing my short fiction drive for a while.

We’ll see if they turn into anything after edits.

I also ran into the story “An Honest Exit” by Dinaw Mengestu, available here at the New Yorker. I am slowly working my way (in random order) through the “20 under 40” collection, and this is my favorite so far. Really good.