starlady: Mako's face in the jaeger, in profile (mako mori is awesome)
Wednesday is generally when you get the cheapest and emptiest flights (relatively speaking) and it's become my go-to travel day for that reason. But for once I am in California again, so it's time to talk about books.

Books Read
Kate Elliott, Shadow Gate (2008) and Traitor's Gate (2009) - Further comments forthcoming, but suffice it to say, I loved the whole Crossroads trilogy, and I highly recommend them to everyone looking to read more epic fantasy that pays due attention to female characters and to women's experiences. Also: GIANT JUSTICE EAGLES IJS

Helen Oyeyemi, Mr. Fox (2011) - I really enjoyed the other Oyeyemi book I read, White Is for Witching; I liked this one too, though (perhaps unsurprisingly since it's riffing on "Bluebeard") the themes of violence against women, against female characters, etc, felt a bit too close to reality. But in the end I really enjoyed the interplay between Daphne Fox, the titular Mr. Fox's wife, and Mary Foxe, his fourth wall-breaking muse; he doesn't deserve either of them, but that's how it goes. Oyeyemi is a wizard of prose, and I can't recommend her books enough.

Holly Black, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (2013) - I was talking to a friend of mine who bought and started reading this book the same time I did but stopped a bit of the way in because of vampire fatigue. Well, I finished it on the BART this evening and I am here to tell you, there's no question of vampire fatigue when someone reinvents the form as well as Black does here--I'd forgotten how a well-written feeding scene can be better than any sex scene outside of top-shelf fanfic, and more interesting besides. The main character's tenacity and general clear-headedness are refreshing, and the worldbuilding is very interesting. I really enjoyed it.

Currently Reading
Brit Mandelo, We Wuz Pushed - This is an Aqueduct Conversations piece about Joanna Russ. I'm quite liking it so far. It was Mandelo's master's thesis and it's really good.

Wendy Walker, Knots (2006) - Another Aqueduct Conversations book. I love Walker's prose. I need to try to get this book for my own; I'm borrowing it from a friend.

The rakugo manga - yes, I know

Book-Shaped Acquisitions Space
Andrea K. Höst's book Stray is free on amazon.com. Höst was recommended to me quite enthusiastically by a fellow Michelle West fan at Worldcon, and I'd been planning to buy some of her books in paper when I go to Australia next month. I expect interesting things!

Reading Next
These things are very difficult to predict. We'll see!
starlady: (coraline)
Oyeyemi, Helen. White Is for Witching. New York: Doubleday, 2009. [In the UK by Picador as Pie-kah]

I was inspired to read this book by [livejournal.com profile] zahrawithaz's enthusiastic review, and I was not disappointed. I think Z does a much better job of digging into most of the issues the book raises than I will, so I encourage you to read her review and to consider my remarks supplementary.

That said, this is unquestionably an excellent, thought-provoking book that foregrounds race, gender and immigration in Britain. Miranda Silver has pica, a disorder in which those afflicted are compelled to eat toxic and/or non-nutritive substances; Miranda's great compulsion is chalk, which is fitting for a white girl who lives by the white chalk cliffs of Dover, the locked keyhole to England. Her twin brother Eliot and her widowed father Luc are largely powerless to deal with her condition, particularly in light of Eliot and Miranda's mother Lily having recently been shot on assignment in Haiti and their inability to discern the nature of their dwelling. Luc is himself an immigrant to Britain, being French by birth (and a chef, for extra irony), but he experiences none of the problems that the hired help at the family B&B, the Silver House, have in making a place in British society; he has the proper skin color to fit in, after all, and furthermore the house itself tolerates his presence--with ill grace, perhaps, but tolerates nonetheless.

Yes, the house is alive, with a malignant intelligence born of the legacy of the unhappy Silver women; the house narrates a good half of the book. It even lies. It's the housekeeper Sade, a Yoruba woman who holds a British passport, and Ore, the adopted black daughter of white parents whom Miranda meets at Cambridge and who subsequently falls in love with Miranda, who are able to most clearly perceive the house for what it is, and what it has done, and who fight against it most sustainedly. Even the salt and pepper with which Ore fights the house and the soucouyant she sees within it are resolutely black and white.

As usual I had the most sympathy for the women in this book, and I enjoyed that the women are full protagonists in the story, both doing and suffering. Ore was my favorite character, though I liked Sade too, and Miranda as well, who is very much a full person rather than a sketch of a damaged girl, as is far too common. On some superficial levels I was reminded a little of Coraline--a house that holds alternative maternal relations who are nowhere near as good as they seem--but Oyeyemi, who was born in Nigeria but raised in London, has more pointed concerns. I shall have to read more of her books.

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