Apr 27, 2008

Short Stories, Web Wanderings and Weekly Geeks #1

Today is a lazy sort of Sunday, and I decided to catch up on my short story reading. I decided to go with two authors I’m already familiar with – Christopher Barzak and Ekaterina Sedia – and one who is new to me – Kevin Brockmeier.

“Born on the Edge of an Adjective” by Christopher Barzak was my favourite story of the lot. I just love his writing. This story shows the same sort of sensibility and delicacy, the same talent to portray longing and love and loss with painful accuracy that made One for Sorrow so remarkable. It’s a beautiful, sad and strange story that will give you a pretty good idea of whether or not you like his writing. I hope you do.

I also really enjoyed “The Taste of Wheat” by Ekaterina Sedia. In fact, I think I liked her writing in this story even more than in The Secret History of Moscow. “The Taste of Wheat” is also a strange story – strange in the best possible way. It’s about transformations and one girl’s search for her dead grandfather, but it’s also about much more than that. Here’s a favourite passage of mine:
She thought of the tales the old women told around the fire, about the mice who decided to become human, and crawled into the pregnant women's wombs, to gnaw at the growing child and to displace it; they grew within the women, shed their tails and claws, and were born as human children. One could only recognize them by the restlessly chewing teeth and the dark liquid eyes. Surely there must be a way for a woman to become a mouse.
“The Green Children” by Kevin Brockmeier is a beautiful and melancholy tale about the discovery of two green children and the effects it has on the inhabitants of a town, and especially on the narrator, who retells the events with quiet nostalgia. It’s a wonderful story, and I can definitely see why Carl and Literary Feline have praised Kevin Brockmeier’s work. I really want to read more of it.

Today also felt like a good day to catch up on my web wanderings, and I thought I’d share a few things with you.

First of all, a giveaway: Melody is giving away Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, Little Face by Sophie Hannah and From Black Rooms by Stephanie Woodworth. To be entered, leave her a comment before the 1st of May.

Secondly, I adored Ursula Le Guin’s review of the new Salman Rushie book, The Enchantress of Florence. The book itself sounds great, but I particular loved reading what she had to say about how science and a sense of wonder don’t have to be contradictory.

Neil Gaiman posted a link to an essay by Michael Chabon about literature and entertainment, and I swear, I keep finding new reasons to love Michael Chabon. Here’s a sample:
Yet entertainment -- as I define it, pleasure and all -- remains the only sure means we have of bridging, or at least of feeling as if we have bridged, the gulf of consciousness that separates each of us from everybody else. The best response to those who would cheapen and exploit it is not to disparage or repudiate but to reclaim entertainment as a job fit for artists and for audiences, a two-way exchange of attention, experience and the universal hunger for connection.
Oh, how I love him. The essay is an excerpt from his new non-fiction book, Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands. I can't wait to get my hands on it.

Finally, the first Weekly Geeks is here, and Dewey picked a great theme to start with: Discover New Blogs Week! It’s like a mini-version of the Blogroll Game. The Blogroll Game was how I met Dewey herself and Tanabata and some other bloggers that are now favourites of mine, and plus I won some books! What’s there not to love? Anyway, here are five new blogs that I visited today:

Somer at Somereads is a fellow Neil Gaiman fan! This couldn’t have started better. Plus, she’s a librarian, and everyone knows that librarians are cool. There’s more: She’s currently listening to the The Amber Spyglass audiobook, and she’s reading The Princess Academy – a book I love and a book I really want to read!

Teddy Rose at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time has a gorgeous header. Very springy. Plus, a look at her sidebar told me that she’s a fellow animal lover, and that alone made me like her right away!

Aaron at That’s The Book! has a quote I love on his header: “Next to acquiring good friends, the best acquisition is that of good books.” I was thrilled to discover that Aaron recently posted a great review of Mr. Punch, a comic by Neil Gaiman and Dave Mckean that I love.

Samantha’s blog has such a lovely title: Bookworms and tea lovers. I’m sure that, like me, many of you are both. Samantha has joined a very ambitious but exciting challenge: to read at least one book for each country in the world. There’s no deadline, but the idea still feels a bit daunting to me. I’d love to do it someday, though, and I really admire those who had the courage to join!

Finally, Michelle’s blog, In the Louvre, is not 100% new to me because I discovered it earlier this month, when she hosted the April Bookworms Carnival. Still, I decided to take this chance to explore it a bit better. First of all, I really love the look of her blog. So pretty and unique. Secondly, her latest post makes it clear that she is a very talented writer! After some more exploring I discovered that we share a love for Murakami, Kurt Vonnegut and The Book of Lost Things.


  1. All three of those stories sound worth reading! I've been dying to read Brockmeier's The Brief History of the Dead ever since Carl's review. In fact, I went right out and bought it immediately, but still haven't gotten to it.

    I'm loving this first week of Weekly Geeks...I'm spreading my visits across the week. I'm really fearing that my blog reading is going to be totally unmanageable soon, but there's just so many fun people out there!

  2. I'll check out those new-to-you blogs! Some of them are new to me, too, and I'm really looking forward to Weekly Geeking. Can't wait to do my post--probably tomorrow.

  3. Brockmeier's Brief History of the Dead is one of the few books I bought based on the cover. It's still on my TBR pile, but I really look forward to reading it soon, especially since he's gotten so much praise among book bloggers lately.

    I'm really looking forward to participating in this week's challenge - always interested in reading new blogs! I'm glad you've found some interest in mine. :)

  4. After reading your wonderful reviews, I then realize I haven't read anything for this challenge yet!! *sigh* There're just so many great challenges around... ;)

    And thanks for helping to spread my book giveaway around! :) It's always good to have some publicity, hehe...

  5. So, I came across your post from a year ago on Lud-in-the-Mist while searching for said book on the net. And, belatedly, I want to say good post.

    Also, looking around your blog, I think I like your taste. Anybody who likes Neil Gaiman and Michael Chabon can't go too wrong. ;)

    Anyway, as brevity etc.:
    Cool blog.

  6. The short stories all sound great! I've had books by all three of those authors on my TBR list for a little while now, so I'll have to give them a little sample while I'm waiting.

    While adding books to my Bookmooch wishlist, I just realized that I'd probably like Salman Rushie more than I ever thought...I have a few of his books on my list and I haven't read any of them. All of them are just based on reviews that sounded interesting and I know at least one came from you...was it Midnight's Children or something like that? Or am I thinking of a different author?

    Great new blogs too! I still have to do my posts...it's been a busy weekend..

  7. Hmm definitely intrigued by Christopher Barzak and Kevin Brockmeier. Both stories sound interesting and I will look out for them. I enjoyed your review of One for Sorrow a little while ago. I must go and do my weekly geeks challenge now I am back home.

  8. Debi: I really need to get my hands on The Brief History of the Dead. And I know what you mean...there are too many cool blogs out there, and the day only has 24 hours...these days I have two categories on my reader: blogs that I always read (like yours), and blogs I'll skip if time is scarce and it's getting too overwhelming...I always feel a bit guilty when I mark large quantities of posts I haven't read as read, but I guess it's better than never reading them at all. And I really can't stretch the number of hours in the day...

    Andi: Have fun!

    Michelle: I look forward to your review of it! You'll probably get to it before I do, since I don't own a copy yet.

    Melody: There are, aren't there? I'd been neglecting the Short Story Challenge for almost two months, so I thought I'd catch up. And you're welcome!

    Ethan: lol, thank you :P I'm glad you like my blog and I hope you'll stop by again.

    Chris: Do! I really do recommend all three stories. And yes, Salman Rushdie is the author of Midnight's Children. I've only read two of his books so far, but I enjoyed them both immensely. The first was one I'm sure you'd love too: Haroun and the Sea of Stories, a YA Arabian-Nightsesque fairy tale about storytelling. It's funny how those Fantasy-and-Ya-Books-Have-No-Dignity folks don't make more of the fact that Rushie, a Respectable Booker-Winning Author, wrote - gasp - a Fantasy YA book! :P

    Rhinoa: I really do think you'd like One for Sorrow. Enjoy your weekly geeking!

  9. I just love your layout.

    This is actually my second go-round with The Amber Spyglass. I read it a few years ago and am now listening to it with my daughter, who is just loving it. I love sharing great books with my kids!

    Funnily enough, I stole Princess Academy off said daughter's bookshelf. I'm about halfway through with it now. I don't like it as much as I thought I would, but then, what could follow Stardust???

  10. Thanks for the "Green Children" link. I've read the first page and I can tell I'm going to like it.

  11. Sunday afternoons, short stories, and a little napping are one of my favorite combinations...
    "Dominique came from solid peasant stock, not frequently given to fancy; still, in the privacy of the thick bones of her skull, she dreamt of an Asian gentleman who insisted on being called Buddha, and small dogs with sharp white teeth."
    This is one of the BEST opening lines ever!

  12. Somer, thank you :) Sharing great books with your kids sounds wonderful indeed! And I know what you mean...what could follow Stardust?

    Listener: Let me know how you liked the rest!

    Ken: I know! It's an amazing opener, it sucked me right in.

  13. Sounds like a great Challenge. I will have to check out the site and sign onto it.

    I also am running a contest for a volume of Emily Dickinson poetry on Savvy Verse & Wit. Contest deadline for National Poetry Month is May 2. I draw the winner on May 3.

  14. I'm definitely going to have to read something by Kevin Brockmeier at some point! And I'd forgotten how whe first "met". Yay for Dewey! :)


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.