Reading: So, I very seldom write real reviews; I did for a while, for various pubs, but it always felt just too much like setting out to write an academic paper, of which I wrote so very many over the course of my undergrad and grad work, and which I decidedly did not wish to continue writing--I was very good at them, actually, according to my more scholarly professors, but I wanted to devote that writing juice to fiction, not academic papers. So, I give reviewing pretty short shrift. Also, my reading time is so limited by dayjob schedule combined with writing needs/demands and energy limited by health stuff that I'm a little embarrassed how long it takes me to get through a book these days. It used to be I read several books a night, then, when I got over my teen insomnia, several a week. Now, one every several weeks.
But recently I've been feeling...I don't know...guilty, I guess...about this lack, like I'm not putting enough back into the community in this respect. So I'm going to try to do short but hopefully not useless little reviews on a more regular basis.
Finished Catherynne Valente's Deathless
last week. This is a book like a cut ruby, hard and filled with color, and deep, and you get to walk into its faceted depths where there is also incredible warmth and wonder. A number of very good reviews have been written about Deathless
(A.M. Dellamonica's at Tor.com
and this one from the Little Red Reviewer
); I'm not going to reinvent the review wheel on this one. I'll just add that the characters and worlds of this book are, and will be for a long time, alive in my head, in my sense memory, and in the marrow of my bones, because they burrowed in there when I wasn't looking. This is a great good thing.
Over my long weekend just past, I also read Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making
and, though it's supposedly YA and certainly wears less serious clothes than Deathless,
I love this book more and rather gushingly. How can you not love a book with voleries of wild bicycles, a wyvern whose father was a library, talking leopard, panther, and tattooed Marid? A book that leavens alchemy-minded spriggans and wonderous fairyland feasts with quantum paradox theory? If you're me, you can't not love it, you will love it, it will make you laugh, fill you with deliciousness, and keep you highly engaged and entertained from beginning to end. (I guess if you hate intelligent whimsy and little girls with stubborn intelligence, it might not be for you, but too bad for you, then.) I'll be gifting this one here and there.
Both highly recommended.
Musing: So, a couple of weeks ago, a writer friend told me about another writer friend, who happens to be a woman over 50, who confided in her that she never tells people at conventions and the like how old she is, because when she does, they just dismiss her. I've been thinking about this off and on since. My immediate reaction, internally, was that I certainly won't do that (just a few more years and I'll be 50) because if every woman writer over 50 keeps it to herself, we remain invisible and dismissable, and because, really, fuck all the shitheads who dismiss women over 50 anyway.
However, I kept these thoughts to myself at the time, because I can totally understand why this woman does it. It's true--people, and men most especially--do dismiss women over 50 as people to pay attention to. Male writers over 50 get plenty of respect, but women? Only one or two, the token greats.
Of course I also feel like many (most) men already dismiss me; I'm no longer young and fresh and have never been particularly exotic, goth, or otherwise overtly sexay. I don't have that certain allure that seems to really help hold male attention. And so I'm not really worthy of attention--not just for my writing, ideas, vision, and intelligence, certainly. (Except to a few of the more intelligent, sensitive, and deeper sorts of men, to my experience.) And this will only get more so as the years accrue. I'm not upset about it for my own sake, particularly, but on a more global level? It's stupid and sucky and you know what? Men who are writers in a genre about possibility and vision should do better.
I know I'm generalizing madly, but really, that friend of a friend can't be the only woman writer over 50 who just hides her age and won't mention it, so clearly there's an issue there.