Sunday, April 24, 2005

Yesterday I read four books.

I got home to find three books in my mailbox and a fourth waiting for me at the office. Hooray for Amazon's used book service! Hooray for ALibris!

I walked into the apartment and said to the cat, "Kitty, we're rich! Wealthy beyond our wildest imaginings! We have BOOKS!!" She mumbled something about tuna and went back to sleep.

So, without delay, reviews:

1 and 2. Life on the Border and Bordertown, both edited by Terri Windling:

I'm a big fan of the book Finder and a lesser fan of the book Nevernever. Both of those are part of the "Borderland" series conceived by Terri Windling, who apparently has nothing better to do with her life than convince other people to write fantasy novels. She's also responsible for Tam Lin, a modern (1970's) retelling of the Scottish ballad by Pamela Dean. I got sucked into all this, by the way, when my sister sent me a copy of War For The Oaks, a very funny and fast-paced first book by Emma Bull.

LotB and Btown are basically interchangeable as books go. They're both collections of short stories that deal with what happens when Elfland shows up with a bang after millenia of not being around. Elves and humans start to mix in large cities, portions of New York and San Franciso disappear, dogs and cats run wild in the streets, and I'm sure at some point there're some sheeted dead gibbering there too. Nice concept, brutal execution in spots.

Or maybe I'm just not in the fiction-reading habit. Or maybe I got spoiled by reading Sayers and Edmund Crispin over the last weekend. Who knows? Point being, there are some gems in both books, but the titles and plots of the gems escape me. There are also lots of folks with pointed ears, and a surprising number of in-jokes, mostly having to do with Minneapolis. Charles de Lint continues to suck dead rat. Emma Bull and Will Shetterly retell bits of stories I'd read previously, but from a different point of view.

Bottom line: worth it for serious Bordertown fans, which I'm not sure I am. If anybody wants to read 'em, don't spend $20 at ALibris. I'll let you borrow 'em.

3. Gullible's Travels, by Cash Peters:

Love Cash Peters's commentaries on NPR. Love 'em.

Too bad this isn't like those. He's essentially put together a tale of all the bizarre places he's visited as NPR's Bad Taste Tourist, mixed in with healthy doses of not-too-subtle sarcasm and a touch of misanthropy, and put it on paper. *sigh*

4. Neither Here Nor There, by Bill Bryson:

Now *this* is a travel book. Bill Bryson retraces his steps through Europe, seventeen years or so after his first trek. It's funny, it's informative, it has hilarious moments, like when he tries to go down a staircase in an Italian hotel only to find the door at the bottom locked. He gets drunk in Nyhavn, cold in Oslo, frustrated in Naples, and enraged with the Visa travelers' check office in Geneva. His experience in Denmark mirrored mine--I realized at the end of the book that we'd been there at roughly the same time--and his retelling of spraining his ankle in Split had me gasping for air.

Bottom line: I'm planning to read everything else travel-related that he's written, having already exhausted his books on language.

Next up: Elizabeth's London by Liza Picard, and Inside the Victorian Home by Judith Flanders. I have another Bordertown book coming as well, one I'd forgotten I'd ordered. Also an out-of-print Gerald Durrell and a book on ravens, which I'm really looking forward to. Amazon tells me that their estimated ship date is Not Soon Enough and the delivery date is Long Enough Away To Make You Scream.

Now I'm off to take some aspirin for this over-reading headache I've got.

1 comment:

Ron Sullivan said...

Have you read Emma Bull's Bone Dance? If you liked Finder you'll probably like that one a lot. (I did.)

She also wrote an earlier SF book, Falcon. Some character elements are mildly irritating but it's a really good read. Both were in pocket paperback some years ago -- if Alibris doesn't find them quick, you might try ABEbooks.