Monday, February 22, 2021

Reader's Diary #2171 - Yilin Wang: Sparrow

 Yilin Wang's short story "Sparrow" tells of a young woman who's travelled to a city to work at one of the few jobs available to her: washing windows of a high rise. Unfortunately she's about to lose even that job as a robot is replacing her. 

The story is rather fatalistic with strong themes of alienation. This makes the choice of a 2nd person perspective all the more interesting. On the one hand, had Wang written it in 3rd person, it might make the central character's situation seem even more isolated. But on the other, maybe 2nd instills some empathy in the readers.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Reader's Diary #2170 - Tom Farr: The Interview

 Tom Farr's short story "The Interview" revolves around a famous, reclusive movie director who has decided to finally grant his first interview and plans to use his spotlight as chance to make a shocking confession.

I enjoyed the details and world building as it were but the surprise ending didn't really do anything for me. Still, the themes of guilt and penance might appeal to some readers. 

Monday, February 08, 2021

Reader's Diary #2169 - Nicole Y. Dennis-Benn: What's For Sale

 Any short story naysayers who still complain that they don't provide enough space to richly develop characters, setting, and so on should read Nicole Y. Dennis-Benn's "What's For Sale." Honestly, I felt as rewarded as if I'd just read a novel.

Set in Jamaica and revolving around a tourist market vendor named Delores, Dennis-Benn slowly building up the empathy for her until boom, there's a sucker punch to the gut. I won't say more on that. It's not, though, I should say a suprise ending sort of story, not that there's anything wrong with those. Instead it's a rich story about desperation and poverty and family.

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Reader's Diary #2168 - Henry Miller: Tropic of Cancer

I missed the part in the Seinfeld episode "The Library" episode where they implied Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer was a rather vulgar book. All I knew was that it was a classic I hadn't read and finally got around to it.

Not that I'm opposed to a vulgar book per se, and Tropic of Cancer is that indeed and definitely not the dry literature that "classic" usually suggests. Every other word is "cunt." But I won't necessarily like something just because it's vulgar either.

Apparently a semi-autobiographical novel about Miller's time in Paris, I've decided I'd not have liked him as a person. There's a certain smugness about him that I couldn't take to. Plus there are plenty of glimpses into his biases: against women, Jewish people, people of colour, disabled people, etc. Quite frankly he came across as a sociopath and reminded me somewhat of the girlfriend from Pulp's "Common People" song, romanticizing the poor. He judges the working class for taking life too seriously yet owes his existence in Paris on their handouts. 

Also, there's not a plot to be found.

That all said, he could write a good sentence. And that's what kept me going. I enjoyed the descriptions of Paris and the trainwreck of his experience there, despite the fact that he didn't view it that way at all.

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Reader's Diary #2167 - Ethan Sacks (writer), Paoli Villanelli (artist): Star Wars Bounty Hunters 1: Galaxy's Deadliest

I may get my nerd credentials revoked, but I've never been a huge Star Wars fan. Yes, that includes the originals. I mean, I liked them okay, but never invested in them they way I did, say, Marvel superheroes. 

I remember particularly getting hung up on the opening scrawl in the very first film. There was so much backstory moving by so fast and I got confused by it. Other fans either got and understood it all or didn't care. (I had other issues as well but that would be the subject of another post.) Over the years though, they've either filled in the gaps or I've picked up enough to gather the general idea of who's who, the bad guys vs. the bad guys, etc. 

Recently I got into the Mandalorian on Disney+ and have to say, that series is probably my favourite thing that franchise has ever produced. It led me to believe that I might enjoy a comic book series based on their bounty hunters. 

Unfortunately, those old feelings of being lost and overwhelmed came back. I had no idea who these characters were, what their motives were, nor really what the hell was going on. At one point I double checked to see if this was actually the first volume. Sure enough it was. I still have to assume that the majority of these characters were established elsewhere and that understanding this book depends on a much more intimate knowledge than I have. For a pretty surface level fan, it's a complicated, busy mess, and it's a shame because the art is quite good.

Monday, February 01, 2021

Reader's Diary #2166 - Dan Powell: The Ideal Husband Exhibition

 Dan Powell's "The Ideal Husband Exhibition" is a story about unrequited love between a lesbian and her straight friend. 

The story is told as a letter of confession, and so, it's in the 2nd person (the reader is the straight friend). If you're new to my blog, 2nd person is a weakness of mine, so it already had that going for it.

It's also set up a bit as a twist ending, except the ending is so obvious. I don't know if that's intentional or not. She talks about coming out to her parents when she was younger and they were completely not shocked. So perhaps we're supposed to have a similar reaction. On the other hand, when she first came out to her friend years ago, her friend was surprised, So maybe she'd be completely oblivious about her friend's true feelings as well.

It's a well paced story with a great voice.