Books of 2022 thread!! 💥
#books -- 1982, Janine - Alasdair Gray: Hmm well, it's true. My novel is probably an inferior version of this, but still worth doing. Literally just turned the last (ebook) page, came over to write this, and already miss its companionship. Haven't had this much pain over literature being finite since Kafka.
#books -- Torpor - Chris Kraus: I kind of knew this would be the book of hers I liked least from the premise because it's orbiting a topic I find seriously hard to relate to, but this is probably the best of the ubiquitous straight white woman 30s baby fever novels that are now ubiquitous, obviously owe anything interesting about them to whatever's going on here, are generally overly self-serious and reactionary (which this one avoids) and have recently reached what MUST be its own conceptual nadir with the repulsive pull quotes I've seen from the latest Sally Rooney, lol, etc., I liked it, it was often interesting, I still obviously owe a lot of my remit and style to how Kraus writes (well, funnily), even though it was also sometimes annoying in the way everyone expecting you to want to have a baby is annoying. Weirdly enough of her books I think it's the one I'd reccomend to Stephen, though?
#books -- The Warehouse - Alessandro Delfanti: If I had my complaints about how Wageless Life discussed technology and automation, this book addressed them all. A really thorough study of how automation, management techniques, and erosion of workers' rights and stability all come together to create the environment within Amazon warehouses. I really liked how it supplemented the more typical research insights with analysis that was focused heavily on the feelings and worker experience involved in these jobs, and also the connection to gig/precarious/mturk-style work in general and how it is often a testing ground for more invasive management/surveillance techniques that get applied to the workforce more broadly. Really helpful as the next project I'm moving on to after finishing revising my novel is probably going to be a multi-perspective novella about people hired to make a space mining operation appear "fully autonomous"
#books -- Bleeding Edge - Thomas Pynchon: Ok, my first "big Pynchon" and also everyone probably already knew I was reading this one before posting this because I've been flipping my lid over it nonstop??? I feel like I've already read two novels this year that might break my "top 10" if I bothered making it (the other was 1982, Janine) Anyways... if you're startup culture adjacent at all read this one... I feel like it was a book written specifically for my own weird brain. Amazing.
#books -- The Pornographers - Akiyuki Nozaka: Well, inevitably a big stylistic and thematic come down from Bleeding Edge (though maybe in part due to being a mid-60s translation)... Some interesting and well-observed details about the technical and interpersonal aspects of making and distributing pornography but ultimately less humanist and funny than it's sold as, and kind of wish certain interesting things (like using old school photo superimposition methods to make material, or the experimental mechanical sex doll) were developed more than where it actually ends up going...
#books -- Summer Fun - Jeanne Thornton: I was recommended a different book by this author as somewhat similar to the "vibe" of my novel in progress and couldn't get my hands on it (yet) but I saw that her, at the time forthcoming, now out, novel was "about the beach boys" so naturally I went over to the local bookstore and found it. Ahh man... this slightly-askew beach boys AU perhaps only summoned up from the imagination of the main character(!??!) is so good, and it definitely makes me feel more excited and confident about my own work, to read contemporary novels that convey their particular weird fixations with a lot of voice and emotional vividness....
#books -- Pupa - JO Morgan: It brings me no joy to announce that this book was so bad I could not fit it in even a double-wide masto post: https://hotelpaintings.neocities.org/posts/2022-06-15-Massive_Pan__Pupa_by_JO_Morgan.html
#books -- The Dream of Doctor Bantam by Jeanne Thornton: thank god this one was good after the slog the last one was! Even though the story itself is a pretty rough one there's so much joy in the weirdness of the characters and setting. I really enjoyed it but also totally get why it came up during feedback on my novel... some parts really had me thinking that there are no original ideas, just slightly new ways of combining them... which is basically fine? lol
#books -- Rein Gold by Elfriede Jelinek: hmm... I think this was just not my kind of thing. I can appreciate the monologues of theme and metaphor here as interesting but I have trouble with this sort of fictionalized theory-dialogue, I'd much rather read something where the character's actions and thoughts are informed by theory (the always-overthinking and mis-identifying Chris Kraus sort of protag) or... just read some Steyerlesque formally playful theory. idk!
#books -- The Employees by Olga Ravn: Again one that I felt myself getting into over the course of the middle due to some killer imagery and ideas but ultimately had trouble connecting to because I found the particular style of writing so artificial and annoying. In this case it's what I have seen elsewhere called trendy-evasive mixed with a bit of the SFF mystification (truly two of my least favorite things) resulting in texts presented as in-world documents where people speak both more poetically and more vaguely than you would expect them to, with both Proper Nouns and vague terms loaded with implication... Sure the vagueness between the human/oid crewmembers was thematically important but a lot of the time I just felt like it would have benefited from spitting it out and saying what was going on BECAUSE that theme is so interesting to me, and like a lot of non sf writers dabbling in sf it kind of wound it down in a pretty overdone way re humanity accidentally creates a new autonomous intelligence plots
#books -- Aliens and Anorexia by Chris Kraus: A reread but a much needed one! I still love it; it's influenced my own work so much but also I first encountered it at exactly the right time, when I most needed failure and alienation to be alchemized into self-understanding, confidence, decoding and following what I really want, into the community of aliens all across the world.
#books -- Love and Gymnastics by Edmondo de Amicis: Back on the erotic novella and this one really reminded me of why I enjoy these things! Like Venus In Furs they're fun in their unbridled enthusiasm, this time over a lady gymnast who is repeatedly described as huge, alluringly masculine, powerful, etc (and she doesn't end up having to become demure and feminine in the end to be "tamed," that the protagonist would just be like a wimpy little guy who follows her around is portrayed as perfectly fine lol) but also always cuttingly political in a way that more deliberately "political" fiction often is not, in this case on the role of health and physical education in the rhetorical formation of an Italian nationalism that would, in a few decades, become fascism. Really interesting stuff.
#books -- I See / You Mean by Lucy Lippard: Yes THAT Lucy Lippard! I love her work curating and documenting the conceptual art movement and she also wrote a novel in the early 70s. What's particularly striking about it is how it feels like it is so lucidly doing what a bunch of “small group of twentysomething friends has fluctuating complicated relationships” contemporary lit novels, especially those with a slightly experimental edge and/or vague political engagement in their format, are trying to do, but better and with a ton more depth and compassion for its characters, who are also way more interesting, actually bisexual, have goals and desires and history etc, even if I didn’t think all of the choices re: how all this played out were necessarily good. I still enjoyed it a lot.
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