Just picked up a book called Real Queer America by Samantha Leigh Allen, a non-fiction book about queer communities outside of larger coastal cities in the USA. It’s soooo much more interesting when she’s telling the anecdotes about the actual trip itself rather than listing facts, even though I do understand why they’re important for context.
There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on in terms of the appeal of (very) unlikeable characters and that makes it occasionally pretty funny.
By the end of the novel, I was reminded of how terrible and unsatisfactory the ending was and realised how much CW casual racism and SV there was sprinkled throughout; dated representations and (as mentioned) characters that you don’t really like and who don’t really get punished for their behaviour.
This sounded good and it was right next to another book I was looking for when I was at the library, so it has now been added to my pile of opportunity, where it can sit until I either read it or the library reminds me several weeks have passed and I need to bring it back.
Finished ‘A Nation of Shopkeepers’ by Dan Evans, had a few quibbles with the strategy element and some of the definitions used (particularly the professional managerial class) but the book overall was a pretty timely and useful update for how to think about class and definitely made me rethink a lot of assumptions I had regarding material and social understandings of class and class politics.
Read Blackouts by Justin Torres which was one of the best things I’ve read in a long time.
A haunting conversation between two gay men, one young (representing Torres) who visits the other older, dying Juan. It revolves around a study in the early 20th century called Sex Variants - a scientific study about queer people - and those who wrote it. It contains redacted sections from Sex Variants, alongside various images, the whole thing had a really playful form, comprised of vignettes, which twists and turns on itself, winking with allusions. In some ways it reminded me of the playful autofiction of Jenny Offill or Tokarczuk’s Flights. Really one of the best interrogations of sexuality I’ve read - addressing queer archives (and its omissions), inter-generational gay friendships, questioning who makes the stories we’re told about queer history and contemporary gay modes of being.
Close to the end of Orfeo. Really enjoyable character study, which kind of contrasts a bit with the other Powers novel I’ve read (The Overstory) which incorporated a big ensemble of interlinking people though it’s similarly sprawling. Really intriguing how Pynchon is clearly a huge influence on him though he synthesizes that influence in a very different way to, say, DFW or even Don Delillo. All the systems and the historical sprawl and everything is all very focused on servicing the personal psychologies of the characters and that. It’s pretty interesting.
I’m going to complete my experiment in reading Murakami’s Trilogy of Rat with the changing of the seasons by reading the cold winter’s melancholy of A Wild Sheep Chase. Good timing too cause that’s a favourite of mine, and I think a comfort novel will be a nice pairing with changing jobs and all that jazz. Then Hogfather!!
Finished Stella Maris last night (and beat my 25 book good reads goal too). One of them where at times I had to sit back and remember someone had written this. Can imagine it being very marmite, and a lot of the deeper maths stuff went over my head.
I’ve never really been one for reading contemporary fiction but with the 2 Cormacs, our share of night, lapvona and sea of tranquility I’ve bucked that trend a bit this year.