What I read
Finished The Private Patient, which was readable enough, I suppose, but felt not exactly as if PDJ was phoning it in, just proceeding along well-worn ruts. Found it hard to believe in the characters. Also, while PDJ does have a sense that there is Modern Life, and makes a nod to it in Miskin, she still feels in a bit of a time-warp (unlike Rendell/Vine)
Read Ginger Frost's Illegitimacy in English Law and Society, 1860-1930 (2016), which was a freebie for reading a book proposal and I have been trying to get to for months, because Frost's work is always good and going into areas very under-explored. This one looks at illegitimacy from the angle of the illegitimate children (rather than the fallen mother) and is densely researched. Also more than a little depressing - illegitimate children had a very high mortality rate, if they weren't the victims of infanticide by desperate mothers they were subject to neglect or the general problems of poverty. Also the cruelty of the laws took so very long to change. But Frost does get the ambivalances: courts and local officials being sympathetic to the plight of unwed mothers and thus giving merciful judgments in infanticide cases, giving mothers out-relief rather than obliging them to go into the workhouse, demonstrating a certain flexibility; while thinking actually changing the rules would lead to the downfall of morality.
Also finished one of two books I have for a joint review, which also deal with a rather depressing topic.
On the go
Tanith Lee, Nightshades: Thirteen Journeys into Shadow (1993, and collecting some much earlier material). Some of these have been in other collections of hers I've read recently. Very good, if creepy.
Also, have started second book for the joint review.
If it ever arrives, the new Barbara Hambly Benjamin January mystery.
A Digression About Storytelling, Narratives, and Diversity is an essay by Brazilian author and essayist Bárbara Morais that first appeared in the fourth volume of our Quarterly Almanac.
A Digression About Storytelling, Narratives, and Diversity
When I was in college, I had one class about writing. I have a degree in Economics, so it was a surprise when my Projects teacher opened her presentation and started babbling about sentences, structures and style. It was nothing new to me—I thought—and then she came to a part where she started to talk about narrative. About the way people think and the way they put their thoughts into the paper.
I had never given much thought about it until that class. She showed us how the anglophonic way of writing was the most prized one in the scientific scene, specially in the Economics field as it went straight to the point: “John Doe killed a guy in Bolivia”. And people that speak languages that have latin roots, like us, who speak Portuguese, are used to digress: “Do you know John Doe, that guy who was friends with my grandma’s cousin, and whose mother died in that terrible accident? Oh, gosh, his father, the Colonel, got married last year! It was a terrible affair, John fell in love with his stepmother and they ran away to Bolivia. John got involved in a shady business, something to do with stolen trucks, and is in a bad, bad shape, the poor guy. Last thing we heard, he killed someone!” And then she moved on to show us how in Arabic language, people use spiral narratives to communicate. A story gives birth to another, that gives birth to another. It was fascinating!
More or less at that time, I read The Ghost Bride, by Yangsze Choo. It had just came out in Brazil and the reviews were mostly negative. People complained that nothing happened in the book. I began reading and right away I got pissed off at those comments because everything happens in the book. It just doesn’t have the usual fast paced storytelling we’re used to, in which everything is explained and explicitly showed. Lots of aspects are left to the imagination, the journey is more important than the destination itself. It reminded me a lot of one of my favorite movies, Spirited Away, and all the narratives I grew up with while reading manga and watching several anime. That’s when I realized—people were just not used to that way of telling a story.
In recent years we have seen all kinds of talks about diversity, and this is one topic I don’t see that often amid these discussions. There’s a Ted Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that I love so much, about “The Danger of a Single Story”, where she tells us how it was for her to grow up reading books written by British and North American authors as a Nigerian girl and how it’s dangerous to think there’s only one kind of story to tell, the one about white kids who eat apples and have snowy Christmas and 9 to 3 school schedules. But I’d go further: it’s dangerous to think there’s only one way to tell a story. The narrative matters as much as the content. It feels empty to read a novel that takes place in a fantasy land inspired by Arabic myths, but that’s told in the same style an American or a British tale. It feels fake, it feels void. Worldbuilding isn’t only about deciding rules to your world, it’s also about storytelling.
Each language and culture has its own logic that leads to a particular way of thinking and communicating. This reflects directly in the stories they tell, in their myths, in the way they ask and answer questions. It also has impact in other spheres of life. For instance, there’s a really interesting article by Keith Chen that was published in AMERICAN ECONOMIC REVIEW that shows that language has a direct correlation with economic behaviour—cultures with languages that have no distinction between present and future tenses tend to save more money than the others. I’m learning Japanese, and the concept that the present and the future are written in the same tense, is the most difficult for me to grasp. My teacher keeps saying to me that it doesn’t matter if it’s today or tomorrow, but I keep asking her how do people know if something will take place in the future or now. She tells me it’s very simple and it’s always clear, but it’s hard to come to terms with this kind of structure when I was raised speaking a language that has three verbal tenses just to describe things that will happen in the future.
While learning new languages, we live this difference. It’s not only about grammar and vocabulary, it’s also about learning to think like the native speakers, understanding how they make sentences and listening to how they tell stories. And I think that, as storytellers and writers, it is our duty to understand how different languages and cultures have a different impact in the way people think and express themselves, and put that in our work, especially, and more importantly, if we choose to take inspiration from real life cultures that are not our own. When we try to emulate cultures in our writing and forget that there’s more than what we see from afar, that there’s cultural value in the way grandmothers tell stories to their granddaughters, that there’s living history in a backyard barbecue party, we fail to represent important aspects of a society, facts that won’t be available in history books, and we fail to present a new worldview to our readers—so we have the obligation to dig deeper and translate that into our stories.
Bárbara Morais is a Brazilian YA author/economist that loves equations as much as she loves words. Her most dashing abilities are having too many ideas at the same time and poor time management. She can be found fangirling at twitter (@barbaraescreve) and writing about books and stuff at her blog, Nem Um Pouco Épico, all in Portuguese. Her first trilogy is Trilogia Anômalos, published by Editora Gutenberg, which deals with prejudice, segregation, police brutality and democracy. In English, you can find some of her essays around the internet.
THE BOOK SMUGGLERS’ QUARTERLY ALMANAC
A quarterly collection of awesome, selected and edited by The Book Smugglers
Collecting original short fiction, essays, reviews, and reprints from diverse and powerful voices in speculative fiction, THE BOOK SMUGGLERS’ QUARTERLY ALMANAC is essential for any SFF fan.
IN THIS VOLUME (JUNE 2017):
(With a brand new story called “Nice”, set in the world of the upcoming novella Temporary Duty Assignment)
(An essay, about Slipfic)
(A reprint of the author’s award-nominated short story “The Mussel Eater”)
(An essay, on body horror and coming out as trans)
(An essay, on diversity and language)
(A new short story called “Nini” about an AI, a space station and an old goddess. The cover art is based on “Nini”)
(An essay, on superhero registration tropes, power fantasies and Western-centrism)
(A new short story, “El Periodista y la Guerrera”, a story featuring LGBTQIA superheroes fighting for justice for marginalized groups)
(An essay, on romance, women who lust and The Courtship of Princess Leia)
(A review of Bitch Planet volume 2)
(An essay, Where to Start With the Star Wars Expanded Universe)
How To Procure Your Copy of The Almanac
The Almanac is available now with major retailers – Get your copy by using the links below.
Buy the Book:
The post A Digression About Storytelling, Narratives, and Diversity by BÁRBARA MORAIS appeared first on The Book Smugglers.
Honestly, no, no spoilers, because it was just bad in the most boring of ways. The conceit of "What if we put ~wacky~ stereotypical personalities on classic movie monsters" is not original nor in and of itself funny. The girl object was too good for the boy. Also, it was a movie about a girl coming of age which was entirely about her (possessive) dad and her (new cool laid-back) boyfriend, good times? (No, not good times.) It was screechingly heteronormative in the worst ways and way too into toilet humor and only one of the setpieces was at all entertaining (undercut by the emotional throughline making no damn sense.)
And I just kept thinking, what a waste, y'all! Because it would have been a thousand times better if the girl had been the POV character, if it had been about her. (Oh, and of course the secret present left by her mother was a short little hymn to One True Heterosexual Love. Of course. It wasn't even a GOOD secret. I thought of three that would have been better in the ten seconds it took to read it.)
So yeah. I overempathize with characters in fiction and I really get annoyed doing it when I don't like any aspect of said fiction. Adorable vampire girl in movie that makes no sense, you deserved better.
... Speaking of overempathizing with characters, I read C. E. Murphy's Pride and Prejudice pastiche Magic and Manners today. (I read it in a day. It was engaging.) Magic and Manners doesn't do everything right, but I literally teared up several times while reading it out of feels, so it's either good romance or hormones or both. (Or possibly stress relief from feeling like I'm making progress on things at work? Maybe all three?) There's queerness, there's multiculturalism, there's magic, there's nearly telekinetic castration, it's good times. Recommended.
What good news have you had recently? Are you anticipating any more?
... it's nearly five in the morning and I haven't slept, many things bug me...
but I was watching Legends of tomorrow
the episode in season one in the asylum
in the 1950s
and they explicitly say it's a bad era to be black, or queer, or a woman
but they don't say word one about mental health.
( Read more... )
Now the sky is making interesting loud noises.
So, sleep maybe for later.
Eh, internet forever.
Basically the whole camping trip. Though not the getting ready for it, which was a Thing.
Especially the ocean. Ocean!!!
The gift of time, and listening, and care.
Solar eclipse!!! Eclipse glasses in the mail, not a day too late. Early grumpy wake-up. Dawn while driving dark winding roads; morning by a wild river. Stopping at a camp store on a highway deep in the woods. Rambling around, looking at the sun through trees, judging angles. A book, a fern meadow, a cup of hot coffee, a path by a pond, a return just in time. Unexpected friends with a telescope!
An orange bitten circle, crescent, sliver, shrinking.
Ripples of auroral light along the road. Dusk over the pine trees, and a planet shining in twilight blue. A blazing ring around the dark circle, and light expanding to impossible brightness. The sun revealed again.
Seeing friends; visiting their farm; horses, chickens, dogs, alpacas!!!
A tuft of alpaca wool. A handful of blackberries. Cold water given in hospitality.
Getting some chores done. Fine sandpaper, good work gloves, and other tools. Cookies.
A favorite sweater.
Uncertainty. It may be uncomfortable, but it is a gift.
(I'm going Out East to a funeral, with S, and when I come back it'll be the new school year at work, and there's so much I was going to get done that I haven't, and so many experiences I've had that I would not have traded away. I'm not feeling ready, but I'm not totally lost either, I think...I have some hope, and some foundations to build on, and some goals, and some good reassuring things; what I don't have is clarity. I guess I'll muddle on ahead.)
And oh, the light...
The commitment is modest - we're looking for someone to do 2 interviews a month over the phone. You would be responsible for contacting the fans, collecting the permission forms and scheduling a time to be interviewed. The interviews are 1-2 hrs long.
If interested, please email me at morgandawn @ gmail.com
Read more about the project here: http://fanlore.org/wiki/
Please feel free to forward this info to anyone who is interested or link to this post.
We're also looking for fans willing to transcribe the summer interviews.
by Victoria Silverwolf
The world was shocked and mystified this month by the death of Marilyn Monroe, an apparent suicide at the age of thirty-six. The paradox of a young woman who was revered as a star but who led a troubled personal life may bewilder those of us who have never experienced the intense pressure of celebrity. Perhaps it is best to offer quiet sympathy to her friends and family and allow them to mourn in privacy.
The police are baffled, to use a cliché, by the robbery of a mail truck containing one and one-half million dollars in Plymouth, Massachusetts. This is the largest cash heist in history. The daring holdup men, dressed as police officers, stopped the vehicle while it was on route from Cape Cod to Boston.
Even listening to the radio can be a puzzling experience. The airwaves are dominated by Neil Sedaka's smash hit Breaking Up Is Hard to Do. At first, this seems to be a simple, upbeat, happy little tune, particularly considering the repetitive, nonsensical chant of down dooby doo down down comma comma down dooby doo down down. Listening to the lyrics, however, one realizes that this is really a sad song about the end of a love affair.
With all of this confusion going on, it's appropriate that the latest issue of Fantastic features characters who are perplexed, authors who seem a little mixed up, and stories which may leave the reader scratching her head.
(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)