it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

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i'm reading shakespeare in my place downtown

Arachne Jericho is doing a thoroughly nifty blog on Sherlock Holmes here, and as one of her exercises, she's retyping "The Speckled Band" and analyzing it critically for structure and technique.

I highly recommend these posts (and this tactic of analysis) to the apprentice writers in the audience. 

And a bookkeeping update...

1) Abby Franquemont, Respect the Spindle
2) Phil and Kaja Foglio, Girl Genius vol. 7
3) Amanda Downum, The Bone Palace (draft)
4) Katherine Addison, The Goblin Emperor (draft)
5) Carrie Vaughn, Kitty's House of Horrors
6) Gene Wolfe, The Sorcerer's House
7) Robin Hobb, Dragon Keeper
8) Jon Evans, The Executor
9) Graham Joyce, How to Make Friends with Demons
10) Adrian Phoenix, Beneath the Skin
11) John Weatherford, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
12) John Weatherford, Secret History of the Mongol Queens
13) John Man, Genghis Khan: His Life, Death, and Resurrection
14) John McPhee, Oranges
15) Jim Butcher, Changes
16) Carolyn Crane, Mind Games
17) Seanan McGuire, A Local Habitation
18) Janni Lee Simner, Thief Eyes
18) Laura Bickle, Embers
19) Tayari Jones, Leaving Atlanta

Many of these are for review, of course, and soon the world will know my opinions of them! But as for right now, both of those last two are first novels and deserving of a shout out.

lbickle's debut book is a surprisingly good urban fantasy that in many respects reminded me of coffeeem's genre-establishing War for the Oaks--by which I mean not that it's a ripoff, but that it's a fantasy set in the upper midwest with a compelling sense of place, although in the case of Embers it's Detroit, not Minneapolis. I've filed a review at, so more over there when they publish it.

Tayari Jones's (@tayari on Twitter) 2002 novel (it's a novel in the China Mieville sense, being a trio of intimately linked novellas) Leaving Atlanta is a study in the lives of three fifth-graders in (you guessed it) Atlanta during the Atlanta child murders of 1979-81, a wave of serial killings the resolution of which remains controversial to this day. It's not a crime novel, though. What it is is an intensely sensitive look at how conditions of fear affect people who are largely powerless.

Also, my god. I was in fifth grade in 1981, and while I was not black or in Atlanta or in immediate fear of being stalked by a serial killer, Ms. Jones has nailed it. The Mean Girl, and the girls who are only mean because they are afraid of what the Mean Girl will do to them otherwise. The nerdy abused boy, the tough boy who is still a child under his brittle scar-shell of bravado, the girl who is ostracized for reasons beyond her control (I found myself sniffling a lot during the bits from Octavia's POV, because I identified with her so strongly)--the relationships with adults, mysterious and powerful and capricious, the sibling dynamics, the fluidity of friendships--the adolescent dynamic is perfect.

This is one hell of a book, guys. When you talk about writing adolescent point of view? This is how it's done.
Tags: 2010 bookkeeping, recommended reading, writing craft wank

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