One Ring Circus, by Katherine Dunn

My UCLA novel-writing class is in workshop at present, which really slows down my intake of fiction, so instead I’ve recently read Katherine Dunn’s One Ring Circus: Dispatches from the World of Boxing.

Katherine was one of my instructors at Clarion West 1995; she is a generous teacher, honest and full of enthusiasm and passion for writing. She brings that same fierce love to boxing, and what I loved most about this series of boxing articles tended to be her physical descriptions of fighters–there’s a painterly sensuality to the way she talks about these men and women that differentiates them from each other so clearly. It’s a nifty trick, the more so because, as someone who’s not a fan, it would be easy to just have a generic picture of some ‘fight guy’ in one’s mind while reading.

Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson was my second 2011 book. It was also my second experiment with borrowing an e-book from the BC Public Library system.

I find it hard to keep track of the titles of the Millennium trilogy books, but The Girl Who Played with Fire is the second. The first is a sophisticated literary novel and also something of a classic whodunnit, in the sense that there’s a killer, a number of suspects and a reasonable chance that the reader will work out, from the clues, the identity of the guilty party.

The Girl Who Played with Fire leans to being a straightforward thriller. There’s international cloak and dagger stuff afoot and the reader really doesn’t get enough information to put it all together on their own, before the big reveal.

Instead, Larssen plays an intricate guessing game with our emotions. As Lisbeth Salander’s various friends are forced to question who she really is and what she might be capable of, our own belief in her is subtly undermined. It’s a rather marvelous bit of sleight-of-hand, I think. Through the middle of the book I was torn between my writerly certainty that the plot would play out a certain way (and I was right) and a powerful “ARRRGH! NO!” response.

It’s a good book, an interesting one. Salander is an awesome heroine.

In related news, I’ve cobbled together a page containing all my Books Read lists since 2002. It’s long, stupidly long, but it means you can search for authors if you’re interested. Or search for yourself and give me hell for missing your last book!

Books read in 2011

Don’t panic! 2011 is not over; another year hasn’t whipped by so fast you actually did miss it. This is just a bit of a start on my shiny new list, with a note about how last year segued into this one.

You see, in order to facilitate my first book of 2011 being Killing Rocks, by D D Barant, my final book of 2010 was, naturally enough, the book that preceded it in the series: Death Blows.

I enjoyed both books a great deal, and will have more to say about Killing Rocks soon. In the meantime, I thought it might be nice to have the full What Alyx Reads at your fingertips:

Everything I read in 2010.
2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, and 2002. This is, apparently, as far back as I go. (Since I started blogging on LJ shortly after our Greece trip in 2001, that makes perfect sense to me.)

I picked up this habit from Kristine Kathryn Rusch, by the way… her most recent list is here.