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What have you just finished reading?

Loveless (manga) volume 11, Seanan McGuire's An Artificial Night (October Daye #3), and Anne of the Island and Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery.

Loveless managed to ratchet up both the angst and the humor (spoiler for the latter: Yohji manages to unhook his first bra - Shinonome's, of course! She thwacks him on the head with a book.). I wonder if we'll ever find out how Seimei became such an awful person?

In An Artificial Night, Toby is getting a little more sensible, but just a little. I was really enthralled with the first two thirds of this one. Then McGuire started to adhere to a classical trope of legend – one with which I am very familiar – and did it basically paint-by-numbers, which sort of wrecked the whole mood for me.

In the Anne books, it becomes more and more clear that Montgomery has hundreds of little vignettes that she wants to share. Anne of Windy Poplars, which is framed as a series of letters from Anne to her fiance, actually got a bit tedious. The narrator's voice is a little more wry and tart than Anne's, and it makes a better foil to the endless series of incidents in which Anne manages to tame human ogres, dragons, and snakes. I was gratified that Anne had a couple of protégées this time around, as well as a young man whom she's trying to encourage to continue his education.

What are you currently reading?

Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones (re-read; almost finished), Richard K. Morgan's The Steel Remains, and Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery. The contrast in moods and subject matter between the latter two is giving me whiplash of the brain.

What do you think you'll read next?

I should try to re-read Redshirts by John Scalzi, and write it up. Ditto with Among Others by Jo Walton. The Morgan book will require antidotes in the form of more Anne and maybe some favorite children's books. I'm also beta-reading a book manuscript for an old friend, but I'm not sure that counts.


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( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 20th, 2013 01:45 am (UTC)
I actually like the later Anne books best, not least because of the character vignettes, especially those of older women.
Jun. 20th, 2013 12:12 pm (UTC)

The little tales can be amusing, but I like them in Montgomery's voice more than when she's channeling Anne. There do seem to be women with a wider variety of educational and professional choices than one would have thought, given the time and place.

Jun. 20th, 2013 12:15 pm (UTC)
Have you met Miss Cornelia yet? Or have you already read the stories after Anne's marriage?
Jun. 21st, 2013 01:33 am (UTC)

I'm in the middle of Anne's House of Dreams, where she is a newlywed, and yes, I have met Miss Cornelia, and Anne has just started to make friends with Leslie.

Jun. 20th, 2013 11:31 am (UTC)
' Anne manages to tame human ogres, dragons, and snakes.'

She is a bit of a serial wild animal trainer/horse whisperer/snake charmer. Depending on the daemon of the human in question, I suppose. She takes those crotchety old grumps and charms the arse off 'em, it's a regular thing! You'd think they'd get wise to her and gang up against her to protect their pessimism and misanthropy. 'Collective action, fellow miserabilists! There's power in a union! We can fend her off if we just remember to think negative!'

*grabs meme and runs with it*

Jun. 20th, 2013 12:12 pm (UTC)


Jun. 20th, 2013 12:16 pm (UTC)
Love it!
Jun. 20th, 2013 03:21 pm (UTC)
In spite of having just read An Artificial Night, I've completely forgotten how the thing ends. The Bad Guy gets his, yes obviously (it's a plot point in the sequel) but the mechanics of it are gone.
Jun. 21st, 2013 01:42 am (UTC)

Basically, her friends save her ass in the style of the climax of this ballad. Step by step, damn near word by word, with her friend the spooky first-born lady (can't spell that name to save my life) literally calling the action.

Jun. 21st, 2013 02:45 am (UTC)
Have a vague recollection of Toby taking the Tam Lin part and doing all the changing. Am I wrong? What happens to the badnasty?
Jun. 22nd, 2013 05:37 pm (UTC)
Applauding your willingness to take The Steel Remains in pieces, stirred in with other books! My mixed feelings, they are many, but I'm fairly sure I would have enjoyed it less had I not swallowed it in one gulp, still high off the enjoyment of Morgan's Kovacs novels. Steel is so uneven.

I wonder if we'll ever find out how Seimei became such an awful person?

One of the things I find interesting about Seimei's brand of awful is that it's not induced by trauma/abuse/other tragic events or, for lack of a better phrase, the kind of mental illness we usually make allowances for. I suspect we'll never see any triggering incident for him. There's that explanation he gives for Mikado's rape: "no reason".

As far as we know, neither Misaki nor the unseen father were more than a sadly common level of neglectful before Ritsuka's personality shift. Seimei is emotionally articulate, expressive, and perceptive-- he's not incapable of telling how others will react to him, and how he's supposed to react to them. When he wants to act socially competent, he does. I tend to read him as someone with a very unusual paradigm, as born into him as magic is born, or any personality traits are born; he's telling the truth, as he sees it, he does think he's doing what's best for Ritsuka and everyone else is only an object, and he's using wordspells to project his thought patterns onto the world as most other people perceive it. It's just that his paradigm is incompatible with the consensus reality those other people have arrived at. There's no way to provide Seimei what he might need without attacks on other people's agency. The noncongruence of who you ought to be, by a variety of ought-to-be standards, and what you really do/who you are is a recurring theme. Seimei's... brazen confidence that who he is matches up with who he should be makes him a fascinating foil to Ritsuka's struggle with his personality and relationships and Soubi offering himself up as a space on which his sacrifices (and Ritsu) could project, and most of the other spell battlers' earnestly incorporating their partners into their self-definitions, their internal awareness of purpose. Seimei does not need a raison d'être. That's terrifying, to me; what he does could be acceptable to him basically because he's doing it, no reference to the ethical lines most other characters follow.

Tangentially, I've always wondered if magic itself, the fighter/sacrifice bonds, changes "natural" personalities to better fit its forms...

(Please forgive me if I'm misreading this aside, and it turns out we essentially agree. *g* I'm still grateful Smilla pointed me at your old Loveless post last year, and if you're willing I'd love to hear how you interpret Seimei.)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )


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