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Housecleaning for 2010

My reading in December outstripped my desire/spare time/attention span/dedication to writing about it, so herewith a very brief summary of the last of 2009 to get us up to speed:

It Could Happen Here (Judson) - prediction of collapse of the US due to gross economic inequity. Cites things like the French Revolution and the Great Depression as evidence that excessive economic disparity in a country leads to instability and therefore quite possibly to revolution.

Book of Live Dolls (Gates) - children's book; all the dolls in a village come to life and they and their "mommies" have adventures. OK, it's from the 1950s and it's hokey as hell, but I was sick and wanted mental baby food. This one, perhaps obviously, was a re-read of a childhood favorite; I can't think why I like it so much since I never played with dolls, but it's sweet in a daffy kind of way. (There are NO BOYS in it at all, apart from the main little girl's father!)

Day Watch (Lukyanenko) - second in the supernatural series translated from Russian. The books aren't exactly sequels in that the main characters aren't the same throughout but rather the focus of each story shifts from one character or set of characters to another; a better description would be a series of interlocking short stories or novellas. Fabulously complex, original, and engrossing (pretty much the polar opposite of the preceding book, now that I come to think about it).

The Left Hand of Darkness (LeGuin) - Hugo AND Nebula winner, a double header. Exploration (sort of) of gender and what happens when there isn't any as we define it. A groundbreaker in its day but it's a bit of a slog to read now; one wants less politics and more sociology.

Time of the Hunter's Moon (Holt) - Victoria Holt's gothic romances are one of my guilty pleasures, crammed with young pretty governesses, lonely moors, huge old manors with dark hallways and bloody histories, mysterious noblemen with suspiciously-deceased first wives, strange old women who drop elliptical hints, secrets and lies and (of course) rakes who Just Haven't Met The Right Woman. I'm embarrassed to admit how much I love them. (Reread)

Modern Magic (Alcott) - Continuing the gothic tradition, we have (again) mysterious governesses, previously unknown love children, cross-dressing, drugs, and death squads from India. Includes such immortal lines as
" 'Heaven bless hashish if its dreams end like this.' " These are no doubt the same stories that were "the blessing of the Marches in the way of groceries and gowns" and are great fun, not only for themselves but also because it's so easy to picture Jo scribbling them in her garret.

Total books read in 2009: 99, about 70% new and 30% rereads.*

Whew. Caught up and ready to start 2010. Ooh, and on the writing front, have not one not two but THREE ideas for short stories. AND another writer who I very much respect has suggested I sub one of my pieces (with some minor polishing) to a pro magazine. w00t!!

(...51 days...)

* That does not count the 437 times I read "The Berenstain Bears' Picnic" to my 4-1/2 year old nephew. I think I have it memorized. "Mother Bear, put your apron away -- we are going to go on a picnic today!!!" Every time we got to the scene near the end where Poppa Bear is flipping out and waving his arms The Nephew would say, "Wait, I have to show this page to daddy, it's his favorite." Heh heh heh.



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