What can I say about this week? Probably a lot more than I’m going to if I tried a little bit harder, but it’s Sunday afternoon, I’m tired, and I have the mother of all neck cricks to remind me I have at least another seven days of teaching ahead of me before I can have a day off.
First of all, I received my rejection from The Journal of Unlikely Entomology which produced feelings of- well, if there’s a word for it I’ve either forgotten it or I’ve never heard it. It was neither surprising nor unexpected, and yet, when I sent the submission I did so with confidence that it was, at least, finished to the best of my current ability. So I guess the description I’m looking for is proudly disappointed. The rejection was kind and encouraging which was appreciated considering I’m still getting my feet wet in submitting my writing. My dreams remain uncrushed and my determination to be published rolls on.
Then there was the return of Book Delivery Day!! Haha, it’s a disease – a horrible addiction, but $50 a month is the tip of the iceberg to what I used to spend on books. Hell, if I could stick to spending $50 a week on books five years ago it was a conservative month. I really shouldn’t have bought any books in September, seeing as it’s both Alex’s and my birthday, and we’re splurging on each other’s Amazon wish lists for gifts. That’s how you know you’ve got a keeper: when they agree that birthdays are for acquiring large quantities of books shamelessly.
I bought Maus and Divergent because for a while I was just adding all the books GoodReads suggested to me, to my wish list. I’ve since learned to be a little more picky, but it’s a hard when all books give me at least a little bit of a thrill at the prospect of reading them. They’re magic that way. What I’ve been trying to accomplish is the discovery of new books, authors or even genres to enjoy, perhaps outside of my usual comfort zone. So far, none of them have been spectacular failures, so I guess it’s a good policy.
How Many Friends Does One Person Need? is a book I’ve been itching to read for years now. Robin Dunbar and his monkey sphere theory of the limits of human social interaction were what first endeared me to sociology and human behavioral psychology. I’m really looking forward to reading this one.
Finally, Raymond E. Feist’s Magician: Apprentice has been suggested to me by numerous people, and has finally wound up on my bookshelf, and thus is one step closer to being read. At some point. Damn you ever growing book list.
What else happened this week? There was the “not in my science fiction” article by Paul Cook that stirred up the community a bit. In the past I’ve been guilty of tossing out “It’s not X genre if it includes Y attribute” statements also, so I don’t really have any business calling him out on his absurdly narrow definition of what science fiction ought to be. And I can’t defend the books that he turfs out of the genre because I haven’t read any of them. I did headdesk my coffee off the table though, when he took it upon himself to speak for the entirety of his sex in what is interesting to the Y chromosome and what isn’t:
Another writer well-praised (from every corner) is Lois McMaster Bujold. Her great work is the Miles Vorkosigan series. These are supposed to be military science fiction stories, but they are really at their core Romance novels. At first, they were military science fiction novels of a higher order than most. But the romance elements creep in very early on. Bujold tips her hand in the eloquence of her language (normally a good thing) and the attention to detail that only women would find attractive: balls, courts, military dress, palace intrigues, gossiping, and whispering in the corridors. All of this is right out of Alexander Dumas.
That’s just silly. He makes it sound like these books have cooties, when I’m fairly certain that cooties can’t be transferred without some sort of malicious intent. Secondly –and I don’t know which side of the hand this slap even came from- his dismissal of these plot inclusions as unfit for male interest furthers the frustrating blue line / pink line genderizing that pigeonholes people’s interests, careers, worth etc. based on what they’ve got between their legs. It’s stupid. People are who they are and like what they like for a lot of very complex reasons. If you don’t like these elements in science fiction then fine, whatever. Personally, I don’t like space marines and laser wars with aliens, and I can’t-bloody-stand zombies in any incarnation. But to suggest that no guys would like these (implied) girly plots just makes you look stupid and to some people, apparently, like a stupid asshole.
In other, less grumpy news, I took it upon myself to reorganize the bookshelves again. They were getting out of hand and hard to keep track of what books I left where, so they’re split now between fiction and non-fiction to save space. Also we had another shelf shipped because the books keep multiplying. You leave books laying around, unsupervised and BAM book babies everywhere. That’s how this works, right? Right. I estimate it’ll take about four months for the new shelf to reach capacity. After that, may god have mercy on our souls.
Finally, the first major blow of old (28) age hit me today. I woke up with a bit of a stiff neck which is nothing new in the summer when I take to the midnight struggle of finding the five square inches of cool mattress on which to sleep. However, during playtime at school, one of the five year olds wanted to play ball, and I swear all I did was raise my hands and lean back a little to catch the ball when I was hit with the most powerful sudden shock of pain in my life! I lost most of the feeling in my arm and leg it hurt so much. I could hardly move without bringing myself to tears for the next 45 minutes. The poor little girl thought she’d killed me. Back home with muscle relaxers and hot compresses I’m feeling at least less paralyzed, but I have no wish to go through that again. Too bad I have to teach kindergarten again tomorrow.