What I read this month

Is it the end of September already?

Wow. Time flies when you’re stressed out about your daughter and wife returning to densely packed classrooms in a pandemic while you deal with the non-stop driving around and hassles and decisions and emails and calls and arranging of ever-changing targets for your home reno and you’re still processing the news that some of your closest family is moving to another province.

Er…having fun, I mean.
Time flies when you’re having fun.

Despite all that, I got a nice amount of reading done this month.

We Learn Nothing – Tim Kreider
Skullduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire – Derek Landy
Skullduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones – Derek Landy
Several Short Sentences About Writing – Verlyn Klinkenborg

Started and stopped
Black Sun – Rebecca Roanhorse

The Paladin Prophecy – Mark Frost

The second Skullduggery book, Playing with Fire, wasn’t as enjoyable as the first, but the third one more than made up for it. At its conclusion, I immediately wanted to get into the fourth of the series, but the Klinkenborg book had been patiently waiting for my attention for a while, so I got to it first. Then some books showed up for me at the library…

So it goes.

Several Short Sentences About Writing is pretty widely regarded as an excellent book about writing. Some have said it’s the best book on writing, full stop. I wouldn’t say the same.

I didn’t agree with (or in one example he gave, even follow) everything he says. And there seemed to be a disparity between the gravitas of 99% of the book–his hammering at the intensity and scrutiny and constant mulling over of the placement and context of literally every word of every sentence a serious writer writes–and then the brief, sometimes flippant tone with which he responds to what seem to be obvious examples of particularly poor, or at least ambiguous writing in the last handful of pages.

I had a few notions rolling around in my head as I got through Several Short Sentences, including Clearly Klinkenborg would think I’m not a good writer because I don’t do much of this at all; I really should do more of this because he makes some good points; Wait a second, I don’t think much writing I read and enjoy is done by writers who do this and their stuff works, so maybe Klinkenborg is overthinking a lot of this; and in the end section, Whoa, hold on, the examples that he gives here are crap and how to fix them is often clear to me even before I get to his solutions, so maybe I already do more of what he’s advising in this book than I’d expected.

The wide mix of tone and sense of how his advice could help me (or not) left me scratching my head a bit about what my overall thoughts on his book were. I’d recommend it to someone looking for books about writing, but don’t know that I’d endorse all of it.

That was followed up by a very different odd experience with Black Sun. I was enjoying the richness and style of Roanhorse’s prose, yet somehow the story itself was difficult to get into. Which I appreciate is an odd takeaway from it.

I was having trouble tracking all the dramatis personae (there’s literally a couple of pages of them, Shakespeare-like, right off the bat), along with changing dates and shifting locations in this new-to-me world at the beginning of each early chapter, all of which were then subheaded by quotations of what I assume are important texts from various fictional people (which would, or should, in theory lend or derive some deeper meaning to/from the chapters themselves, but which, if so, I was completely missing). But within those chapters, where events happened and characters acted, that I found engagingly done.

I readily admit that, as the bulk of my reading still tends to be done once my wife and kiddo are asleep, which sometimes happens when I should be crashing as well, there’s a solid chance that Black Sun was a little too much for my sleepybrain to readily grasp.

I have another Roanhorse book from the library–this one from the Rick Riordan Presents series–which will doubtless be easier for me to absorb in the late night hours.

I need to try to read more often during the day, lest I risk this tendency getting worse:

“Hey, Reay, I noticed from your monthly posts that you’re reading more and more Mr. Men books. What’s up with that?”

“Well, here’s the thing…”

Yyyyyeah, I need to avoid that happening.