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.