CategorySmailes Caroline

Elsewhere: Unsung Female Writers and SF Masterworks

After this year’s male-dominated Booker longlist was announced, Naomi from The Writes of Woman got together a few other female book bloggers, who each suggested five female writers who they felt deserved more recognition (see parts one and two of the Unsung Female Writers series). Now, as a follow-up, Naomi has sought a male perspective: she asked me and Eric of Lonesome Reader for our suggestions. She also asked me to suggest a science fiction writer, as that’s not a field she knows much about. In the end, my entire list is SF-tinged to varying degrees – but you’ll have to read the post at Naomi’s blog to find out who I chose. Eric’s list is also well worth checking out.

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In another place, the SF fanzine Big Sky has marked Loncon 3 by putting together two special issues in celebration of the Gollancz SF Masterworks series. In issue 4, you’ll find reprints of my blog posts on Christopher Priest’s The Affirmation and The Prestige, and Colin Greenland’s Take Back Plenty.

Reading round-up: late May

Notes on some of the books I”ve read recently:

Caroline Smailes, The Drowning of Arthur Braxton (2013). A properly wonderful tale of water nymphs living in a northern English swimming baths, and the boy who falls for one of them. The clash between timeless magic and the modern, rather mundane, setting is amusing at times; but a deeper sense of something genuinely strange and dangerous also emerges. Smailes tells a coming-of-age story with an atmosphere all its own.

Richard C. Morais, Buddhaland Brooklyn (2012). Seido Oda is dispatched from his monastery in Japan to set up his sect’s first temple in America – Brooklyn, to be precise. Once there, Oda finds a ragbag of individuals who mean well, but who aren’t the kind of Buddhist he is used to. This is an engaging tale of different cultures meeting, as both Oda and the Brooklyn Buddhists find that they can learn from each other.

Gila Green, King of the Class (2013). A few years hence in Israel, Eve has a decision to make about her relationship when her fiancé Manny embraces religion. A decade later, she faces new pressures when her son goes missing. Green’s debut examines issues of identity, faith and love, as it moves between character-based drama and mystery-thriller.

Peggy Riley, Amity & Sorrow (2013). Amaranth,  one of the wives from a fundamentalist cult, flees the cult’s compound with her two daughters, Amity and Sorrow. One of the girls responds well to the outside world; the other longs to return. Riley goes back to examine how and why Amaranth joined the cult, and what led to her leaving; as well exploring the lives and feelings of her three protagonists in the present. All adds up to an insightful and multi-faceted character study.

Gyles Brandreth, Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders (2007). When I was a child, I read a lot of Gyles Brandreth’s books of obscure facts and puzzles (his Word Box was very nearly one of my choices for Simon’s My Life in Books feature). Now Brandreth has written a series of murder mysteries starring Oscar Wilde as the detective; this (my reading group’s latest choice) is the first, and sees Wilde’s journalist friend Robert Sherard as narrator, and Arthur Conan Doyle in a supporting role. Brandreth’s novel is quite the romp, with Wilde becoming a Sherlock Holmes figure; but it feels too much as though the cards of the mystery are being stacked up to be revealed at the ed, making the journey that bit less involving.

99 Reasons Why – an ending

Today, The Friday Project publish Caroline Smailes‘s latest book, 99 Reasons Why. It’s an ebook (available for Kindle and iPhone/iPad/iPod touch) with eleven possible endings: nine are available within the book itself; one is being handwritten by the author and auctioned for charity; and the other is being published on various blogs — including this one. You can find it below.

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