So 2017 is, becoming a year of mostly women. Well, book-wise, at least.
When I did a recent newsletter entry, I listed the books I wanted to read this upcoming year, and I realized that about half of the authors were women, which gave me an idea to try to read mostly (if not all) women authors this year, especially in the fields I like to read.
It wasn’t a conscious thing, but I’m trying to make it one, if only because, well, it is 50% of the human population. My fiancee and I were discussing the difficulty of finding unique voices in the genres of supernatural, horror, ski-fi and fantasy, and crime fiction that fall out of the range of “written by a white guy.” They’re out there, so I think I’m gonna try to see how long I can push this.
I recently finished The Broken Hours by Jacqueline Baker, the first in this weird trip. This book gave me a headache, and honestly that’s a good thing.
While ostensibly a weird alternate perspective on the Lovecraftian mythology, Baker’s book is interesting in that it plays with a few things, primarily time and metafiction. A new assistant/housekeeper shows up for the mysterious New England-based writer known as “Ech-Pei,” aka “H.P.” (you can pretty easily figure out who that’s supposed to be). There’s supernatural stuff, but the fact that so much seems to happen, both introspectively (the protagonist spends a lot of time slowly losing his mind) and literally in such a short period of time can kind of mess with you.
I was just as surprised about 3/4 of the way through the book as the protagonist was to realize that, in the timeline of the story, only a week had passed. It felt, in Baker’s writing, that at least a month or two had passed time-wise. It was a really jarring moment, one that I think was done purposely to create a literal discerning effect, one that’s the beginning of the truly metafictional shift in the story.
Overall, I’m not entirely how I feel about this book in terms of “liking it,” because the sparseness and shift at the end didn’t feel like it worked well, story-wise. But anyway, besides The Broken Hours, and not including more library books, some re-reads or the reading I have to do for work, or a few short story collections with a mix of authors (and yes, I know the last book on this list has a male co-author), there’s going to be;
- THE WHITE CITY by Elizabeth Bear (also from the library and which I just finished). It’s a horror-esque novella with vague gothic Vampire: The Masquerade and steampunk-y overtones, not quite what I thought it’d be. I wasn’t crazy about it but Bear’s a prolific author and I hear that some of her other work is great, so I might check it out.
- MR SPLITFOOT by Samantha Hunt (actually one of the books I got my fiancee for Christmas), which has something to do with the supernatural and small-town horrors related to a terror in the nearby woods. I’ll be honest, the title (a nickname for Satan) is what drew me to it. I’m always on the lookout for weird and interesting horror-influenced fiction.
- ARE YOU MY MOTHER? by Alison Bechdel, the “sequel” to FUN HOME, her first graphic novel memoir, which is one of my favorite books/comics despite how dense it is. Looking forward to cracking into this one. I haven’t been reading as many comics as I used to these days, maybe I’ll try to fix that.
- THE SHINING GIRLS by Lauren Beukes, which has been on the bookshelf for a couple of years actually, but I haven’t had a chance to get to yet. I heard a lot of good and messed-up stuff about this book, which has me excited.
- THE G-STRING MURDERS by Gypsy Rose Lee. I don’t remember where I found this, but it seems really cool and I started it but put it down last year, so I think I’m just gonna start from scratch with reading it. It’s also sort of research for something academic, so I feel a bit of a need to read this.
- CYBERPUNK: OUTLAWS AND HACKERS OF THE COMPUTER FRONTIER by Katie Hefner and John Markoff, which I got for $2 at The Strand, randomly one night. It’s gonna be a little dated I think (the book came out in the 1990’s) but as a cultural touchstone about subcultures, you can’t go wrong.
Let’s see how this year of mostly women goes.