Hey, February? Where the fuck do you think you’re going? You can’t seriously think it’s ok to leave now?! Not when I haven’t done my PKD reading for the month or reviewed a single book. About that.
Reading and writing obstacles this month: 1. starting a new job 2. eye injury 3. a new round of everybody-in-my-fucking-house-is-sick, bi-weekly 4. going to bed at 8 pm, see points 1-3.
I got to try virtual reality, and it was everything science fiction has promised me.
Living in an apartment, specifically this apartment, makes me feel like I am on a luxury vacation. Remind me to never stop appreciating even the most trivial luxuries of life in 2016. My internet is so fast! This wood floor is so shiny! Who are these people whose footsteps I hear through the ceiling when I’m lying in bed?!
But we were talking about books…
18. Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
19. Slade House by David Mitchell
20. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (audio)
21. The Videogame Style Guide and Reference Manual by Kyle Orland, Dave Thomas, and Scott Steinberg
22. Just Kids by Patti Smith (audio)
23. Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon
24. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Seven books finished, and forfuckingonce my author gender parity is spot-on. Like, as of this list, it is exactly 50/50. Of course this means I almost never leave the binary. Meh. Still. Unspoken goal success! Even if I only read one book from my paper tbr for #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks. Cough cough.
The Best of February
The month started with a book that gave me a week-long book hangover—there was still too much to mull over to start something new. (Well, that and my daughter sticking her finger in my eye and sending me to the emergency room.) Our Endless Numbered Days was a beautiful, haunting debut novel that combines a surviving-in-the-woods story with a fucked-up-family story. It offers a harsh critique of preppers, beautiful descriptions of the forest, and memorable images that I am still chewing on a month later.
Just Kids and Girl in a Band cover some very similar ground, with Kim Gordon arriving in New York just as Patti Smith is leaving. But Just Kids is by far the better book. Girl in a Band is interesting—particulary for the bits about touring with a kid and being a woman in a largely male dominated field—but of more interest to Sonic Youth fans than to readers. Patti Smith is a poet, and Just Kids manages to accomplish the impossible task that stands before every memoir writer: it takes the chaos of a life well lived and shapes it into a narrative with well-rounded characters and narrative drive.
Bonus: Patti Smith reads the audio book, and though I’ve never sought out her music, after a few days of her gravely Jersey accent, I had Horses on my headphones. Girl in a Band, in comparison, is a random collection of facts (though I enjoyed it as well). I would only recommend Girl in a Band to Sonic Youth fans, but I would recommend Just Kids to anyone. Next up in “Nikki reads memoirs written by female artists”: Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein.
As for Andrew Smith, what can I say? New insta-favorite is what I can say. He has said some incredibly unfortunate things in public, but Grasshopper Jungle speaks for itself. Remember how when you were reading The Knife of Never Letting Go you were like, holy shit, this is such a great narrative voice!? Grasshopper Jungle is that narrative voice times a hundred. It is weird and then it is funny and then it is serious. It is unrelentingly sex-obsessed.
Minor flaw: use of repetition bordering on grating. Major flaw: not fleshing out Shann (major female character) as much as it did Robbie (equally major male character). While that last flaw exposed one of Smith’s weaknesses as a writer, I loved Robbie so much, loved the story, loved the style, loved the voice, loved the narrator, loved the giant carnivorous, sex-obsessed grasshopper monsters, that the book felt perfect in spite of itself. Flawed but wonderful. A joy to read, and so fucking weird. Five stars, 100 carrots, 6000 Oscars, high fives until your hands bleed.
And That Leaves
A ghost story that wasn’t very scary, a memoir that felt like PR, and a style guide whose contents will make one aspect of my new job very obvious.
Everything I Didn’t Read in February
Two months into 2016, and I am already behind on the Exegesis
Limp Read Along. Strike that. I appear to be the only one limping at the moment. Good job people. You will be the only reason that I manage to catch up this month, which I will do so help me VALIS.
Two months into #ReadYourOwnDamnBooks, and I have only managed to eliminate paper by brute force. That is to say: I gave another handful of books away, but I didn’t read anything from my paper tbr. I blame Stephen King. I hate his depiction of women in The Gunslinger so hard, I can barely choke down a paragraph at a time. Not that there are many women in it. But when there are, you better believe they are stereotypical prostitutes who immediately stop charging and fall in love when The Protagonist comes along or about to get murdered. Then there was that sentence about rape being for the good of the bloody “tower,” and now I really don’t give a fuck.
Maybe I should just stop reading now. pic.twitter.com/kU2Ahcp83n
— Book Punks (@bookpunks) March 3, 2016
Every time I have groaned about Gunslinger on Twitter, someone has come riding up to tell me that it gets good in, like, two or three more books. I’m sure it does. But I doubt I will be around to find out. Maybe I’ll watch the movie instead.
What have you been reading?