Monday, February 24, 2014

Reading Not with a Bang but a Whimper

Sacchi Green

Reading? What have I been reading?

Well. Let’s begin with the two books-on-tape I’ve listened to for relaxation. (Yes, my car is so old that it only has a tape deck, and I only listen to books while I’m in my car.)

First was The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett, a noted woman author of the nineteenth century and a practitioner of what came to be termed “American literary regionalism.” I’d been meaning to read it for years, and, while it took some getting into, I did eventually enjoy her portrayal of small-town coastal Maine and found it moving as well as interesting.

Next, for pure comedic distraction, was The Mating Season by P.G. Wodehouse. Need I say more? I’ve read/heard all the Bertie Wooster/Jeeves books before, but after all, one doesn’t read them for plot but for Bertie’s ineffable turns of phrase and the general parody of an upper class British twitdom that possibly never existed.

Now for the whimpering part, which is purely due to my own procrastination, or rather to committing to too many obligations all due at about the same time. Two blog tour posts in February necessitated reading two books (the last one just completed today); one review for Erotica Revealed requires another, which I’ve scarcely begun; one beta-reading project for a friend has been completed; all while I’ve been trying to finish up my next anthology for Cleis and send it in by March 1. Plus submitting three stories and desperately hoping to revise another in time to send it off, but that’s not exactly reading. All of this wouldn’t have been a big deal, except that I let so much of it pile up until the last few days.

The books themselves are perfectly enjoyable under ordinary circumstances. The first blog tour post was for Alison Tyler’s The Delicious Torment, well worth reading even if, like me, you’re not into Dominance/submission yourself. The writing is topnotch. The second, which I’ll be posting on my blog on Tuesday, is for Kristina Wright’s anthology XOXO: Sweet and Sexy Romance, also very enjoyable if one like’s that sort of thing. Well, actually, one shouldn’t draw too many conclusions about what sort of thing that is; there’s quite a bit of variety there, including my story “Gargoyle Lovers” about a lesbian couple honeymooning in Paris.

The book I beta-read for a friend was excellent in many ways, after a slightly muddled beginning. The main character has a distinctive voice and the settings are spot-on; the Boston area, Provincetown, and Quabbin Reservoir. The author has published a few short stories in relatively minor venues, but this is her first novel. I’d really like to see it published, although it’ll be a very hard sell; a sizeable chunk of the book is about an affair the lesbian main character has (before she rediscovers her true love) with a transwoman. This is very well handled, but I have some doubts as to whether any of the usual publishers of lesbian fiction will touch it, which is a shame. There are some very dark aspects to the whole thing, as well, PTSD, child abuse and animal cruelty among them, but that sort of thing wouldn’t doom it. We’ll just have to wait and see.

My next reading project, just begun, is Coming Together: Girl on Girl, edited by Leigh Ellwood for the Coming Together series run by Alessio Brio to raise funds for charities, in this case the National Center for Lesbian Rights. I hope it’s a knock-out. Nobody wants to badmouth a book that benefits a charity. Good or not, I need to read it and turn in my review by Friday.

And meanwhile I have to finish reading and rereading and reading yet again the stories I’ll be turning in to my publisher for Me and My Boi: Queer Erotic Stories. They’re all edited and formatted, but I haven’t written my introduction yet. Yes, they all seemed like great stories the first dozen times I read them, but by now, how can I tell?

Strangely enough, I think the reading I most enjoyed this month was during the four days my partner was too sick and feverish to read, and I read out loud from Terry Pratchett’s Jingo. Endlessly inventive, slyly satirical, overwhelmingly hilarious. Next to the antibiotics, which finally kicked in, laughter really was the best medicine.

And now—onward to Coming Together: Girl on Girl. If the stories can make me forget I’m supposed to review them, it’ll be a winner.    
 

13 comments:

  1. Now this sounds like the chaos of my usual reading list. I am usually listening to something, reading several things on paper, reading electronically, reading stuff for friends, and on and on. I'll be curious to see what you think of Girl on Girl, and I'll keep an eye out for your XOXO post as well. Also, the book you beta-read does sound fascinating—best of luck to your friend.

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  2. Well, you know how I feel about Wodehouse! (:v>

    http://ohgetagrip.blogspot.com/2011/09/reeves-and-undesired-promotion.html

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  3. Wow, do you ever fill your plate, Sacchi. Makes me feel like I'm wasting time actually reading books. :>)

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  4. If the big houses don't take your friend's book, she could try MLR Press - Laura Baumbach is open to many diverse plots and action

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  5. Whew! I'm amazed you found time to write this post, Sacchi!

    Hope you like Girl on Girl (I have a story in it...)

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  6. Girl on Girl doesn't list the authors in the table of contents with the story titles, so I didn't realize at first how many of them I knew. It's shaping up to be excellent, after the first four stories, which is great, except that the book is competing with my Wild Girls for the Lambda Award. Oh well, it's great anyway. I've had stories in a couple of the Coming Together anthos, and I support the concept wholeheartedly.

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  7. When lyd closed I kind of went "What am I going to do with all this trans lesbian romance?" They'd published a ton of it (my heroes!). I ended up self-publishing. I had permission from my editor to use her edits, so why not? The San Francisco library system even bought 3 copies of The Red Satin Collection after I did up the CreateSpace version. Self-publishing isn't my first choice on original fiction, but for reprints (especially when the material's far from mainstream) it's becoming my go-to.

    I have a story in XOXO (can't remember which one) but I didn't end up submitting to Girl on Girl (can't remember why).

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  8. Love your reading list, Sacchi, and the diversity on it.

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    1. Hi Cheyenne! I love to see the immense diversity of the books you list on Goodreads.

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  9. Giselle, you have two stories in XOXO, one het (The War at Home) and one lesbian (Nailed).

    What I posted for the blog tour isn't really a review, but more of a meandering riff on short-short stories. I really should have used an excerpt from The War at Home as one of my examples of a great beginning, but I have to admit that I was rushing and used the one Kristina mentioned in her introduction.

    I f anyone's interested, my blog is at http://sacchi-green.blogspot,com, with a giveaway of the book. And if you scroll down to the previous post you get my entire free story "The Outside Edge", the Olympic figure skating one, posted in honor of the recent Olympics. I'll be taking that one down in a few days now that the games are over.

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  10. And now I've edited my blog post to include an excerpt from Giselle's "The War at Home" because it's just too good to pass up. (I admit that I'd have used even more excerpts if I hadn't had to type them all out. I love getting books for review as PDF files so I can cut n' paste.)

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  11. TWO stories? Well, well... I am prolific!

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  12. Yay, I am also in XOXO! I am always happy to be in things with my writer friends. :)

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