Monday, October 01, 2012

Read in September

Before I get into the list, let me backtrack. When I started Antick Musings, I edited SFF professionally, and so didn't write much about genre fiction -- certainly not in a critical way. And I insisted that I didn't do reviews or criticism; I did write about books I read, but not in a systematic way.

Well, that SFF-editing job ended abruptly, and my subsequent job was in a different part of publishing entirely. (Though I still try to keep to the same general rule: I don't shit where I eat, so I only talk briefly and mostly positively about business books, except for occasional potshots at those evil, money-grubbing bastards, the consultants.)

Gradually -- in the manner of a frog being boiled -- Antick Musings moved from being a general blog by someone who worked in book publishing into a book blog, and then into almost exclusively a book-review blog, in which I covered every last book I read in an essay-like post. (The year-long Book-A-Day stretch of 2010 and early 2011 mostly accomplished this.) This isn't what I intended, and -- though it's taken a while to realize it -- isn't what I want, either.

So I'm going to try to go back to something I've said several times and never quite lived up to: covering all of the books I read in a given month by (approximately) the end of that month, and tossing them quickly into a month-end post if need be. Yes, it's more elegant to have an essay, each with its own post, for every book I read, but I don't think many of you care about most of these books and it's a huge commitment of time and energy when my day-job is sucking ever more of both out of me every day.

(I'm happy to write essay-like posts on occasion when someone else wants to pay me for them -- and I'm open to offers of egoboo, traffic, and other non-convertible currencies -- but doing them for everything here strikes me as overkill.)

Those quick takes might still end up being separate posts, if they're long enough (I have a vague longer-than-the-book-cover metric that I use), and they have for a lot of the books below. Even when I proclaim I've got a new, specific, organized way of doing things, I still manage to overcomplicate things; I've sat on this post for a week, trying to get the missing reviews "done" before I posted it. Finally, with enough sleep and free time on a Saturday, I'm closing it up and backdating it to where it belongs -- there will be some edits for links (and maybe to add short reviews here) later, but there always is, anyway.

Kazu Kibuishi, Explorer: The Mystery Boxes (9/4)

Laura Lee Gulledge, Paige by Paige (9/4)

Seymour Chwast, Dante's Divine Comedy (9/6)

William Carlos Williams, Paterson (9/6) -- It's one of the great long poems in the English language, and (I think) one of the most purely American great poems. It's also about the closest large city to me -- but, mostly, it's about how a man is a city, or a city is a man, or a river is a life, or how poetry can encompass absolutely everything in a life or a mind. It's difficult to describe, though I've never found it difficult to read. And I've now read it once a decade for the last three, getting a new copy each time, though not on purpose. If you only know Williams from the wheelbarrow or the plums in the icebox, you're missing a lot. No ideas but in things!

(The cover above is the prior edition -- the one I read 5 or 7 or 10 years ago -- not the current one, which doesn't seem to exist anywhere online.)

Mark Kalasniko, Freeway (9/7)

Daniel Pinkwater, Bushman Lives! (9/10) -- This one deserves a real essay, and will get one. The short form: Pinkwater's novels are all good, but some are magnificent. This is one of the magnificent ones.

David Malki!, Dapper Caps and Pedal-Copters (9/17)

Doug TenNapel, Cardboard (9/18)

Kazu Kibuishi, Amulet, Book 5: Prince of the Elves (bound galleys) (9/19) -- I've covered all four previous books in reasonable depth: one, two, three, four. And this volume is more middle, like the last book but even more so. It's an entertaining graphic novel series for tweens, but not much more than that -- any comparisons with Jeff Smith's Bone are quite strained. Still, Kibuishi tells a good story, and I still have hopes that he'll hit a point when he stops complicating it and starts knitting it back together for a big finish. But, for now, it's enough to note that it exists, it's very popular, and it's pretty good for what it is.

Susan Cain, Quiet (9/20)

Raina Telgemeier, Drama (bound galleys) (9/21)

Garth Mueller, Frommer's Los Angeles Day by Day (9/22) -- I'm holding this one to review it with a similar book from the Lonely Planet folks. Honestly, I should probably wait until after my big vacation to review all of the travel books, since only then will I be able to really say how useful they were. But I won't.

Thomas Frank, Pity the Billionaire (9/25)

Andi Watson & Tommy Ohtuska, 15-Love (9/26)

William Gibson, Distrust That Particular Flavor (9/27)

Darwyn Cooke, Richard Stark's Parker: Book Three: The Score (9/28)

I do plan to keep writing essay-like posts for books that I think deserve them, or that will be of greater interest to the people I think are reading this blog. (I look at traffic figures every so often, and continue to be amazed that people actually are reading this blog.) That probably means SFF, most of the time, but I've learned by this point not to make promises.

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