Category Archives: Books

Books by others; whatever I’m reading.

Name dropping, with chicken and artichokes

Posted on August 27, 2010 by

Most of the writers I’ve interviewed for the Journey series have agreed that the big joy of working in publishing is getting to know so many cool and delightful people. I got a concrete reminder of the essential truth of this when Peter Watts came through Vancouver on his way to Worldcon. We spent Wednesday evening catching up over dinner and wine.

Peter and I got to know each other when Starfish first came out–I reviewed it, and wasn’t entirely sold. We exchanged a few e-mails about my review and by the time the second book was out I’d changed my mind; Peter was kind enough to forgive me my reservations. All of which are gone: read Peter! He’s great!!

Peter is also a big fan of Rumble–who responds by treating him with uncharacteristic aloofness–and even named a head cheese after him in Behemoth).

Anyway, it was one of those lovely, magical nights. He introduced us to Mr. Deity and we talked a lot about TV–Dexter and Breaking Bad and the ill-fated tv pilot Virtuality. Even as writers, it’s easier to talk tv than books–there’s still an awful lot of it and you cannot watch it all, but the areas of overlap are greater. This is part of the appeal of book clubs, I guess: if everyone agrees in advance to read something, you know you can talk about it with someone.

(On somewhat of an aside, another writer I know, Nancy Richler, is in a book club that specifically focuses on books its members failed to finish the first time. They’re currently wading through Henry James’s The Golden Bowl.)

We have more company coming to town this weekend… it has been an action-packed month! However, I am hoping to find time to post some Victoria pictures and do some grading.

A For Announcing…

Posted on August 26, 2010 by

While I was out of town, my friend Nelson Agustín launched his first book, A for Adobo, an alphabet book featuring the A to Z of food from the Philippines. Nelz is an incredibly gifted photographer, and I love his work. The images in this book are mouthwatering. Check out his cover:

A for Adobo

I’ve always adored alphabet-themed stuff: I wore out a couple Cat in the Hat Dictionaries as a kid, was delighted by the Jane Yolen and Allen Eitzen Alphabestiary of Animal Poems, and dimly recall a Harlan Ellison collection of what’d now be called flash fiction, called “From A to Z, in the Chocolate Alphabet.” Under other circumstances, I can easily imagine accumulating a pile of such things.

In any case, if you have similar alphabetic proclivities, if you love food, photography or perhaps just want something new and lovely to share with your favourite preschool-aged loved one, I recommend this beautiful book with all my heart. It can be got from Tanahan Books for Young Readers or directly from the author—drop me a line and I’ll put you in touch.

Congratulations, Nelz!

Favorite Thing Ever

Posted on August 23, 2010 by

Ain’t it just the way? I had just decided to start picking my own reading material and writing about it in this blog when two fantastic review options punched their way through the swinging door of my Personal Possibility Saloon. Fear not–many write-ups will still happen here, of course! This will be especially true when I’m talking about history books or other non-fiction. That said, it looks like a few of my SF and fantasy book reviews are going to end up on as soon as one’s actually up, I’ll let you know.

I have also been invited to join the unabashed squeefest that is Favorite Thing Ever! My first entry, which should probably be entitled “After this, I swear I’ll shut up about Tana French for at least a month,” should be appearing today. Have a look. Then, while you’re there, do yourselves a real favor and check out kelly-yoyoKelly‘s entries on William Shatner’s album Has Been, Michael Bishop’s Brittle Innings, and DD Barant’s Dying Bites. Seriously. What she says about Shatner will make you snort chocolate milk through your nose.

Though most of the raves on Favorite Thing Ever (who also have a Twitter feed, of course!) are about books, films, TV or music, there’s also a piece called “I love potatoes so much, you guys” by one of its founders, the lovable and witty Kormantic.

These are not measured or balanced critiques. They are, in fact, expressions of passionate delight, a sincere wish to share the best stuff going with fellow fans while skimming the occasional kickback from Amazon. Ultimately they all boil down to: “I love this! Here’s why you might love it too!” Ever had a friend sell you on something you’ve come to worship for the rest of your life? That’s all we’re doing here.

Here on my site, tomorrow will bring another Journey interview, this one with author M.K. Hobson, whose brilliant first novel The Native Star will be out in a few short days.


Posted on August 22, 2010 by

Continuing the theme of fragmented Alyx vacation posts, I’d like to note that Skagway has about 900 people.

Our ship had nine hundred staff and more than two thousand guests. And when we ambled out into the town that day, there were two comparable ships and a piker at the dock. Six thousand plus tourists at once. I think that qualifies as an invasion. I certainly wanted to run away from us all, and I was part of the hoard.

Juneau, by contrast, is home to a cozy 30,000 souls. You could actually look around and see people there who looked like they might not be tourists or those pandering to same. Our look-around had a couple of highlights–local bookstores with prominently-displayed posters of Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Sarah Palin memorabilia, and a store with some lovely prints by local artists, of whom my fave quickly became David W. Riccio. There were also non-human residents, who found us boring:

After we checked out downtown, the cousins and I caught the Mount Roberts Tramway up, way up, eighteen hundred feet, I believe, enough so our mammoth home of a Carnival Spirit looked tiny!


The mountaintop had some nice trails, the usual restaurant/gift shop/bathroom configuration, and the Juneau Raptor Center’s resident Bald Eagle, a bird whose name I didn’t catch but who’s there for good, since someone shot her through the beak, which also took out one of her eyes, which in turn caused her early, permanent retirement from the hunting grounds:

We did a short hike (time wasn’t quite as abundant as it was in Skagway), took some shots, yakked and yakked some more, and generally enjoyed the scenic walk, the sunshine, and the glorious fresh air. It was sunny and temperate (I gather that it was sweltering in Vancouver and Seattle). The ship’s crew had made a point of telling us, repeatedly, that we’d had the best weather of the season. When you get a gift like good weather and this kind of scenery, you just get out and appreciate it.