As of a few days ago COVID-19 has made landfall here in West Michigan, so we are all hunkering down for a long haul of avoiding significant social interaction. Fortunately I have several hundred books in the house that I have not read. They should last me a couple of weeks. I also have a job where I can work from home so, until the toilet paper runs out, I have no real reason to interact with other human beings beyond my wonderful girlfriend. She is a school teacher, so she will be hanging around the neighborhood for the next three weeks until the schools reopen.
On the left in the above photo is the latest issue of the superb Rain Taxi, because of which I will undoubtedly order several new books in the upcoming months. On the right is the latest delivery from Deep Vellum, Girls Lost by Jessica Schiefauer. 2020 is starting out with a much slower acquisition rate than the previous several years, and for that I am kind of happy, as I was beginning to feel the pressure of insufficient shelving. I mean, I still feel that pressure, but it is not an immediate concern.
In reading news, I am hopping randomly through volumes III and IV of The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, published by NESFA Press. These stories are just wonderful! I have been a Zelazny fan since I first read Nine Princes in Amber back in the early 1980s.
I am also reading Tentacle by Rita Indiana, one of the books from my subscription to And Other Stories. One chapter in and I am fully hooked.
My writing game has been significantly off these past few weeks so I am switching over fully to editing several short stories. I have four so far which I think will be worthy of publishing.
Assuming there is such a thing as publishing as we work our way further through this very stupid timeline.
Since you’ve made it to the end of this post, here is a picture of Poe.
February was a fairly good reading month though I was sidetracked by a long weekend away, some family stuff, and the act and aftermath of getting the kitten fixed. Turns out that the drugs they use to anesthetize cats for surgery sometimes turns them into psychotic Tasmanian Devil beasts for about a day.
Most of the short fiction for February came from three sources – The Long List Anthology volumes 3 and 4, and Kolyma Stories by Varlam Shalamov. The rest were random picks from journals, both print and online.
I am also pushing through to the end of Sayak Valencia’s Gore Capitalism, which I started reading back in January. I hit a point where I had to put it down, and fully expected that to be the end of it, but there was something about the book that just would not let go of me, so I picked it up again and am going to try to get to the end in the next few days.
Here is the list of short prose I read in the month of February 2020.
- “Waiting Out the End of the World at Patty’s Place Cafe” – Kritzer, Naomi (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4)
- “Don’t Press Charges and I Won’t Sue” – Anders, Charlie Jane (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4)
- “Confessions of a Con Girl” – Wolven, Nick (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4)
- “Utopia, LOL?” – Wahls, Jamie (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4 )
- “Lullaby for a Lost World” – de Bodard, Aliette (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
- “Terminal” – Tidhar, Lavie – (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
- “The Scholast in the Low Water Kingdoms” – Gladstone, Max (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4)
- “Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands” – McGuire, Seanan (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
- “Things with Beards” – Miller, Sam J. (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
- “On the Slate” – Shalamov, Varlam (Kolyma Stories)
- “At Night” – Shalamov, Varlam (Kolyma Stories)
- “Carpenters” – Shalamov, Varlam (Kolyma Stories)
- “Paradox” – Kritzer, Naomi (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4)
- “A Personal Quota” – Shalamov, Varlam (Kolyma Stories)
- “The Parcel” – Shalamov, Varlam (Kolyma Stories)
- “Sour Meat” – Tse, Dorothy (That We May Live)
- “Gonzales, California” – Berardino, Christopher Seiji (Blind Corner Literary Magazine)
- “Aquacultural Appropriation” – Glanzman, Kimberly (Blind Corner Literary Magazine)
- “Angel of the Blockade” – Acks, Alex (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4)
- “The Fisher of Bones” – Gailey, Sarah (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4)
- “Crispin’s Model” – Gladstone, Max (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4)
- “The Atheist and the Angel” – Buckell, Tobias (Patreon)
If you made it this far down the page, you deserve a picture of a kitten.
February ended on a cold note but here in the first day of March I walked along the river with my honey in late afternoon sunshine and an air temperature in the upper fifties, Fahrenheit. We still have three more weeks of winter, technically, but fifty degrees in winter is much better than fifty degrees in summer.
The library of Winkelman Abbey only saw one delivery this week, from Apex Publications, with the two books pictured above – Winterglass and Mirrorstrike, both by Benjanun Sriduangkew.
In reading news I rounded out the month of February with a little over twenty short stories completed, which put my brain in an excellent space to start revising a couple of first drafts. I will post the list later this week.
Writing for the past week was about on par with writing the week before, to wit: Not a lot started or finished. I was just completely brain-fried and needed to take a little time off. But now that we are in a new month I intend to get back into my daily routine tomorrow at 5:30 am sharp. If I can keep that up for the month that should be enough time to get another story to a point that I can begin shopping it around to some lit journals. And maybe give me time to start working on a new short story for one of the thirty or so calls for themed publications I have bookmarked for the rest of 2020.
That’s all for now; time for bed.
It’s been a busy week here at the Library of Winkelman Abbey. Yesterday we had our kitten spayed. She recovered nicely from the surgery and spent most of yesterday evening and night, well into today, being a psychotic beast. Only in the last couple of hours (a full 24 since the surgery) has she calmed down enough to sit still for more than about a minute. Thus, no kitten in today’s photo.
A small stack of books arrived in the past week. On the left is the newest issue of Jacobin. In the middle is the latest from Deep Vellum, The Love Story of the Century. And on the right is an impulse buy from Semiotext(e), The Coming Insurrection, the first title in their Interventions series.
The Coming Insurrection was briefly famous back in 2009 when noted fascist bootlick Glenn Beck spent several weeks pissing himself in terror on Fox News over what he called “the most evil book he has ever read.” Coming from someone who at the time worked at white nationalist propaganda outlet Fox News, that description is hilarious. I doubt Beck or any of his catamites (the ones who can read, anyway) made it past more than the first few pages of this small text.
So I have some good reading for the week ahead, while I nurse our kitten back to health.
Amazing how time flies when you have a kitten. Suddenly February is here and I can already feel the impending changing of seasons and birthdays and of course the end of the year is one month closer.
This week’s bundle of books for the Library of Winkelman Abbey is small but distinguished. On the left is Berari’s The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance, from Semiotext(e). In the middle is the latest arrival from And Other Stories, Gerald Murnane’s collection of essays Invisible Yet Enduring Lilacs. On the right is Jeff VanderMeer’s Dead Astronauts, the cover of which is even more beautiful in person than in the photo.
In reading, I am slowly ramping up again and working my way through volumes III and IV of the Long List Anthologies. There stories therein are absolutely amazing, no two anything alike, and while reading I feel simultaneously inspired and intimidated.
In writing, I took some time off from creating and editing, and used that time to update my list of published works. This effort included posting my novelette “Hvalur,” which was part of the original Brewed Awakenings anthology published by Caffeinated Press back in 2015.
I have made some progress on a cyberpunk-ish short story, and the research thereof has given me material for some new poems which may or may not see the light of day at some point in the future.
If I publish none of it, at least the cat will still love me.
As part the process of focusing my 2020 reading on short fiction, I am keeping a list of every short story I read this year. Author names are linked to their primary online presence, as are the venues for those short stories.
January was quite busy, what with work deadlines, ConFusion 2020 and the new kitten, so I only read 20 stories. The majority came from periodicals though the last few came from the superb Long List Anthologies of short fiction nominated for the Hugo Awards.
- “Lost Book” – Williams, Ryan M. (Pulphouse Fiction Magazine #7, Summer 2019)
- “That Faraway Kingdom” – Buckell, Tobias (Patreon)
- “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” – Fall, Isabel (Clarkesworld #160, January 2020)
- “Acceptable Losses” – Dermatis, Dayle (Pulphouse Fiction Magazine #7, Summer 2019)
- “A Choose Your Own Fangle Adventure” – Jeschonek, Robert (Pulphouse Fiction Magazine #7, Summer 2019)
- “Say Hello to my Little Friend” – Rusch, Kristine Kathryn (Pulphouse Fiction Magazine #7, Summer 2019)
- “The Ghost of a Smile” – Miller, John Jos (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
- “Cessation of Civilization” – Croke, Marie (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
- “Autoimmune” – Pankau, Kurt (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
- “Hot Times in Shady Pines” – Kloster, Gary (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
- “The Last Petal” – Madden, Anna (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
- “Extremophile” – Harpold, Robert E. (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
- “Dreamforger” – Crankshaw, Donald S. (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
- “Dirtnap” – Koekkoek, Taylor (Paris Review #231, Winter 2019)
- “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance” – Buckell, Tobias (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4)
- “Red in Tooth and Cog” – Rambo, Cat (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
- “A Salvaging of Ghosts” – de Bodard, Aliette (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
- “Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the International Relay Station | Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0” – Yaochim, Caroline M. (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
- “Razorback” – Vernon, Ursula (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
- “We Have a Cultural Difference, Can I Taste You?” – Jordan, Rebecca Ann (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
The week leading up to ConFusion 2020 was packed and chaotic, full of kitten hijinks, shenanigans and tomfoolery. And also a few books.
The top two, Half Way Home and the Principia Discordia, I picked up at ConFusion from the stack of free books.
The bottom row starts with Franco Berardi’s Breathe: Chaos and Poetry from Semiotext(e), a publisher for whom I have re-developed a profound love. Next is This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. I picked this one up hoping that Mohtar would sign it at ConFusion but alas! she did not attend this year.
Third in the bottom row is Kameron Hurley’s The Light Brigade which I DID get signed at ConFusion, and next to it is Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway, likewise signed. I will talk more of ConFusion and books and signing in an upcoming blog post.
For reading, I managed a couple of short stories, but was too busy for much other than the usual half-hearted browsing of random internet pieces.
Yeah, ConFusion was a lot of fun.
I would say this past week was another quiet one here at the Library of Winkelman Abbey, but with a new kitten nothing is ever quiet. I did manage to get Poe to sit still long enough to enjoy Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson, the only new book to arrive in the past week.
My reading schedule is waaaaaay off for this time of year, thanks to Poe, who is distracting in the very best ways. I am reading a lot of short fiction, as I planned, and loving it! My subscriptions to Pulphouse, Amazing Stories, The Paris Review, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld, etc., are finally paying off.
I have also been closely following the 2020 State of the World conversation over at The Well. Sterling, Lebkowsky and company are touching on some interesting and deeply concerning topics, as well as pointing out that the unease (to put it mildly) that Americans are feeling right now is basically how most of the rest of the world has felt for decades, and to a large extent how things have been for us for a long time, though we do tend to take pride in our ability to live in denial. Food for thought as well as loads of writing fodder.
My next literary update will likely be a little late and will certainly be loaded down with books from ConFusion 2020, which starts in FOUR DAYS!
Welcome to the Big List of Books for 2020. This is the sixth iteration of the list of books and reading materials acquired by the Library at Winkelman Abbey. The previous five are here:
This list will continue the process started last year – book titles will link to the book publisher or distributor or other place (like Indiebound) where books can be purchased. Only as a last resort (or in the event the book was created using CreateSpace) will the link go to Amazon.
And as always, you can find the complete list of book I own over at LibraryThing, and the terribly incomplete list of books I have read over at GoodReads.
- Gibson, Andrea – Lord of the Butterflies (Button Poetry)
- McGuire, Seanan – Every Heart a Doorway
- Hurley, Kameron – The Light Brigade
- Berardi, Franco “Bifo” – Breathing: Chaos and Poetry (Semiotext(e))
- El-Mohtar, Amal and Gladstone, Max – This Is How You Lose the Time War
- Landsman, Keren – The Heart of the Circle (Angry Robot)
- Eichenlaub, Anthony – Honor in an Age of Metal and Men
- Bell, E.D.E. – Diamondsong (Atthis Arts)
- Bell, E.D.E. (ed.) – Five Minutes at Hotel Stormcove (Atthis Arts)
- Bell, E.D.E. (ed.) – As Told By Things (Atthis Arts)
- Marsalis – Apeman Rex
- Steinmetz, Ferrett – The Sol Majestic
- Pike, J. Zachary – A Song of Three Spirits (Gnomish Press)
- Sanford, Jason – Heaven’s Touch and Other Science Fiction Dreams
- Sanford, Jason – Never Never Stories
- Cipri, Nino – Homesick (Dzanc Books)
- Eichorn, Shannon – Rights of Use (Astra Invicta Publishing)
- Stewart, Glynn – Starship’s Mage (Faolan’s Pen Publishing)
- Hurley, Kameron – Empire Ascendant (Angry Robot)
- Hurley, Kameron – The Broken Heavens (Angry Robot)
- Gibbs, Mary Lynne – The Dragon’s Curse (Dragon’s Roost Press)
- Cieslak, Michael – Urbane Decay (Source Point Press)
- Principia Discordia (Steve Jackson Games)
- Howey, Hugh – Half Way Home
- Thomas, Lynne M. and Thomas, Michael Damian (eds.) – The Best of Uncanny (Subterranean Press)
- Poetry #215.5 (February 2020)
- Kim, Sagwa – b, Book, and Me (Two Lines Press)
- Murnane, Gerald – Invisible Yet Enduring Lilacs (And Other Stories)
- VanderMeer, Jeff – Dead Astronauts
- Berardi, Franco “Bifo” – The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance (Semiotext(e))
- Jacobin #26 (Winter 2020)
- The Invisible Committee– The Coming Insurrection (Semiotext(e))
- Tikkanen, Märta – The Love Story of the Century (Deep Vellum)
- That We May Live (Two Lines Press)
- Poetry #215.6 (March 2020)
- Sriduangkaew, Benjanun – Winterglass (Apex Publications)
- Sriduangkaew, Benjanun – Mirrorstrike (Apex Publications)
- The Paris Review #232 (Spring 2020)
- Schiefauer, Jessica – Girls Lost (Deep Vellum)
- Rain Taxi #25.1 (Spring 2020)
- Ho Sok Fong – Lake Like a Mirror (Two Lines Press)
- Callard, Agnes (ed.) – Boston Review #45.1, On Anger (Boston Review)
- Kovacs, Christopher S. – The Ides of Octember: A Pictoral Bibliography of Roger Zelazny (NESFA Press)
- Ashton, Dyrk – Paternus: Rise of Gods (Kickstarter exclusive hardcover, signed and numbered)
- Ashton, Dyrk – Paternus: Rise of Gods (paperback, signed)
- Dreamforge #5, March 2020
- Ortiz, Monica Teresa – Autobiography of a Semiromantic Anarchist (Host Publications)
- Chang, Kristin – Past Lives, Future Bodies (Black Lawrence Press)
- Ghalayini, Basma (ed.) – Palestine +100: Stories from a Century After the Nakba (Comma Press)
- Tichý, Andrzej – Wretchedness (And Other Stories)
- Unferth, Deb Olin – Barn 8 (And Other Stories)
The following is a list of all the books I read in calendar year 2019. Despite it being an extremely busy year, I still managed to squeeze in reading time, mostly by avoiding distractions like sleep. I only listed the books I completed.
In this list are 26 fiction titles, 19 poetry collections, and 5 books of nonfiction. On a five point scale, almost all of these were in the 3 to 5 range. I only scored two books lower than 3. I’m not including scores here because I included them in GoodReads and, less consistently, LibraryThing.
What this list doesn’t show is all of the short fiction and individual poems I read in mailing lists, magazines, websites, literary journals and the like. Those together would probably equal around a thousand pages, or say four additional books.
I can say that it was the poetry books that got me to 50 titles for the year. Not that poetry is trite or easier to read than prose; it is simply that poetry books (the works of Evan S. Connell notwithstanding) are in the main shorter than prose works.
Though each of these books was in some way remarkable, I want to specifically call out five of them for sticking with me well after reading:
- Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkin (fiction)
- Here: Poems for the Planet, edited by Elizabeth Coleman (poetry)
- Carceral Capitalism by Jackie Wang (nonfiction)
- The Language of Saxophones by Kamau Daaood (poetry)
- Becoming Superman by J. Michael Straczynski (memoir)
For 2020 I will track my reading a little differently: I will keep two lists, one for books and the other for short prose. As I ramp up my writing practice I will be reading A LOT of short stories as study for my own work. Keeping an account of this reading will help me figure out my own skills and shortcomings in the art.
||Too Like the Lightning
||The Blood-Tainted Winter
||Clark, P. Djeli
||The Black God’s Drums
||Adams, John Joseph and LaValle, Victor (eds.)
||A People’s Future of the United States
||Why I Wake Early
||Ha Ha Ha Thump
||The Monster Baru Cormorant
||A Coney Island of the Mind (50th anniversary edition)
||Saint Peter and the Goldfinch
||Kocher, Ruth Ellen
||When the Moon Knows You’re Wandering
||Montes, Lara Mimosa
||Postcards from the Interior
||Palmer, D. Thourson
||Ours is the Storm
||everything we met changed form & followed the rest
||Coleman, Elizabeth J. (ed.)
||Here: Poems for the Planet
||Each Darkness Inside
||The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary
||Storm of Locusts
||Kowal, Mary Robinette
||Scenting the Dark and Other Stories
||First Love and Other Stories
||Kuznia, Yanni (ed.)
||A Fantasy Medley 2
||A Life on Paper
||The Language of Saxophones
||Serna, Rudolfo A.
||Snow Over Utopia
||A Hero Born
||45 Thought Crimes
||The Dream of Reason
||True North (re-read)
||Pimentel Chacon, Sasha
||Insides She Swallowed
||Straczynski, J. Michael
||It’s All Just a Draft
||Paternus: Wrath of Gods
||Black Leopard, Red Wolf