Nino Cipri

What I’ve been reading: April 2015

In an effort to keep track of my reading, I’ve started taking notes about the stories I’ve been enjoying. Here’s this month’s round-up. All of them are linked, where applicable. If there’s something I’ve missed, or that I should read, leave a comment or send me a note at nanoonino [at] gmail [dot] com.

Nonfiction

A Fragile Dance: Queer Brown Futures (Or a Lack Therof)” by Lamya H in Autostraddle Beautiful language wrapped around a knife-sharp takedown of white and Western supremacy in the queer community.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Highly recommend listening to the audio book–I love Angelou’s voice.

Novels

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. I love Atwood’s novels. She writes about horrible people in horrible situations with such charm. Enjoyable despite some of the *headtilt* stuff: anachronistic mentions of DVDs and CD-ROMs, handwavey science, oddly retro culture and family structures, ugly hints of Orientalism. I started thinking of it as an alternate universe rather than a future dystopia; it seemed oddly dated otherwise.

The Secret Place by Tana French. If you haven’t read any of French’s Dublin Murder Squad novels, I recommend them. She has a gift for writing engagingly flawed characters, and using them to examine the human condition. If you’re interested in books with a strong sense of place, French’s description of post-recession Dublin and its surrounding areas is great: rundown inner-city areas, half-abandoned housing developments, old gothic boarding schools.

Short Stories

Loud As a Murder” by Sarah A. Johnson in Crossed Genres. Impressive debut from Johnson–this is her first story published in a professional market. A atypical love story with a non-neurotypical protagonist. I was never sure if this was a story about romance or monsters or both.

The Ways of Walls and Words” by Sabrina Vourvoulias at Tor.com. This story takes place during the Spanish Inquisition, in Spanish-colonized Mexico. Its two narrators are an imprisoned Jewish girl and an indigenous maid who sweeps the jail, but it’s a story about freedom. You’re gonna cry. Just know that now.

The Island” by Desirina Boskovitch in Nightmare Magazine. Wonderfully weird and creepy story about a family hiding from the apocalypse on an island. Parts of this felt like an updated, pop-savvy Shirley Jackson. Read if you’re into metafiction, creepy children, and evil trees.

Let Us Now Praise Awesome Dinosaurs” by Leonard Richardson in Strange Horizons. Martian dinosaurs making a living on the motorcycle racing and monster truck rally circuit. You already know if this is something that will appeal to you. (WHY WOULD THIS NOT APPEAL TO YOU?)

Noise Pollution” by Allison Wilgus in Strange Horizons. I loved the premise: a magical system that’s based on singing and music making keeping an evil entity at bay. I wasn’t so enthralled with the narration, and found it a bit grating, but this world is still very vivid and vibrant. I’d love to see this expanded into a novel or a series of linked short stories.

Stay” by Daniel José Older in Fireside Fiction. Older always writes so well about love and death. This story juxtaposes the dueling chaoses of an urban ER and two people in love. Interesting choice of narrator: a ghost that, somewhat incidentally, haunts one of the characters. Maybe as a stand-in for the audience, able to witness the depth of the action, sympathize with the actors, but not change it.

Especially Heinous: 272 Views of Law & Order: SVU” and “The Husband Stitch” by Carmen Maria Machado. I started seeking out Machado’s fiction after reading Sofia Samatar’s profile of her in the LA Review of Books. Machado’s fiction interrogates popular culture and the nature of storytelling in a way I find incredibly compelling. “The Husband Stitch” has been nominated for a Nebula this year.

The Litigatrix” by Ken Liu in Podcastle (originally published in GigaNotoSaurus). Fun whodunnit that takes place in (I think) 16th century Korea, with a young female detective. If you’re looking for an introduction to Liu’s work (possibly in anticipation of reading his debut novel The Grace of Kings) this could be a good place to start.

Flash Fiction

Katabasis” by Jen R. Albert in Fireside Fiction. I will always be a sucker for stories that tackle grief and death from a speculative or fantastic perspective. This story discusses what death might mean when technology advances enough to make it, if not actually impermanent, then at least illusory.

Sally The Psychic Alligator” by Sunil Patel in Fireside Fiction. Completely lives up to its title. Ridiculous and fun story about a researcher trying to find her missing psychic alligator.