Hmm. I actually got halfway into that book before abandoning it. Maybe I’ll try reading it again, because I know I didn’t read very carefully the first time. I’m a very impulsive reader That is a habit I’m trying to change, because as I’ve found out recurringly with my recent reading, a little patience can take you a long way.
The main city-centric novel I’d recommend is Calvino’s Invisible Cities, but, well…it’s Calvino. So expect the city-centrism to be quite metaphorical.
I took an architecture class focused on that book once, which was a wild time.
Huge bang for your buck, city-wise. Can’t think of a novel with more cities off the top of my head.
Currently in the process of rereading it.
An architecture class based on Invisible Cities sounds hugely wild in of itself already.
I just read Jennifer Egan’s The Candy House, a sequel to her Pulitzer Prize winner A Visit from the Goon Squad. I highly recommend both of these books-- they are about the connections between people over time and the way lives intersect and part and influence each other through greater or smaller degrees of separation. Egan weaves together many distinct voices, the protagonist changing with each chapter, closely or tangentially related to the character before it, so many narratives blending together and yet each memorable and unique. These are very good books.
I’ve only read Goon Squad and one of her older novels, The Keep, and it’s fun to hear how her interest in life’s separations & intersections has continued for decades!
Ooh I remember I also really liked A Visit From the Goon Squad although I have to admit I don’t remember much about it. I think I confused it once with Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists which was also great.
I’ve been spending a long time trying to get through Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. I like it little less than Gone Girl, which was a real page turner. I’m not feeling the building mystery here as much; the main character is aimless. Flynn has a lot of vivid descriptions which feel very observant and almost at a distance. I was surprised a couple times, because although everything is described through the protagonist’s eyes, we’re not as kept up-to-date on how she’s feeling within a scene, so suddenly she’d be bursting into tears. Characters are all incredibly sketched.
I’m halfway through Félix J. Palma’s El Mapa del Tiempo. It’s… How do I call this rare specimen? “Retro-Victorian SF Time Travel Pastiche” might give an impression that comes close.
Two main characters have their reasons to want to escape their own time, the late 19th century. The technological and scientific optimism of the time, juxtaposed with the brutal poverty in “lower” parts of London such as Whitechapel, and the isolation and tristesse caused by the restrictive social mores feature prominently.
Wells himself features as a side character in the best scene of the book I’ve read so far.
I just picked up David Grann’s new book, The Wager, which is about a mid-18th Century shipwreck, mutiny, and court martial - I think it’s going to wind up with an analysis of the cultural imperatives of imperialism that’ll be a sort of prequel to A.W.B. Simpson’s Cannibalism and the Common Law, which is one of my favorite books (among other cool things, it’s the source of the epigram for the Mountain Goats album Tallahassee).
But anyway the titular ship is part of an English squadron sent out to attack a Spanish fleet, and I was trying to figure out what was this would be - the book starts in the 1740s so was feeling like that was too early for the Seven Years War and too late for the War(s) of the Spanish Succession. Then about fifty pages in, he starts zooming out and providing some of the global political context and I realize OMG, it’s only just the @&!$ War of Jenkin’s Ear!!!
After some issues with shipping, I finally got my Kickstarter reward for backing Shareware Heroes and I’m enjoying it so far. Really cool website too!
I am now about halfway through Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany. I have read Babel-17 from the same author, which I liked a lot (high recommend!!). The tone of this one is so different and I still don’t know if I like it as much, but Delany’s writing is magnetic. It’s been hard to pull away, even to go to sleep
Dahlgren is mindblowing. And quite the mindfuck too. I got lost in that book for weeks, nibbling at it in small doses to give my brain the time to digest what I had just read and how it related to the chapters I read earlier.
Just reached 90% of the mammoth tome (figuratively speaking, as it’s a Kindle ebook) of complete Father Brown stories. A misplaced sense of duty is making me finish it after slogging through for almost a year (reading a few stories when switching books). It’s been a case of something good being spoiled by having too much of it. I’d rather have picked up some 5-10 stories long anthology.
I started reading a fantasy novel called Wormwood by Graham Taylor.
Well, by my life, I made a lot of mistakes here. It’s a sequel to a book I haven’t read, though doesn’t loudly proclaim this on the covers, which is how I was tricked into buying it a secondhand sale.
Second, it feels like I may have accidentally bought a Steampunk book. I think technically it’s not, but it’s close. For me, there’s good punk, like punk music or Sid Snot on the Kenny Everett Video Show, and then there’s Steampunk, Frostpunk, (noun)punk, etc.
Third, I glimpsed on a wikipedia page for it that it’s a Christian allegory. I’d probably never have gotten this, as I’m both an atheist and someone who variously dislikes or fails to notice allegory.
Nevertheless, I don’t hate the book, so I’ll keep reading.
I know that it is something of an Internet meme at this point, but Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I bought it with the intentions of reading it during Covid lockdown, but never even looked at a single page of it until 2023. It is a difficult read, and the book is probably going to fall apart before I finish it, but I am enjoying it.
Went over my to-read list and I started another hefty tome, a collection of pieces from Mark Fisher’s “k-punk” blog:
I’ve been waiting for the third book (The Lords of Uncreation) in The Final Architecture trilogy by Adrian Tchaikovsky to come out, and it has, and I’m back in the loving arms of a great space opera. When the book came in the mail (I preordered it 6 months ago), I did a dance of great nerd joy. If you haven’t read any Tchaikovsky and you like sci-fi, get going.
His Children of Time series was soooo good! I’m super scared of spiders and still I couldn’t put the books down!
(Oh, I didn’t even realise he put out a third book for that series )
OOOOHHH, Children of Time is an awesome series, and the third book is great. Sounds like you have some reading to do! I have serious arachnophobia, and those books actually helped me get over it a little bit. Which I have to do now that I live in the Land of Giant Spiders.
I was reading a lot of Fisher when I wrote Computerfriend. even when I disagree with him, he’s thoughtful and his writing is interesting!