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January 2nd, 2018

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09:06 pm - Recent reading!
John Darnielle, Universal Harvester

Evocative horror-mystery-coming-of-age novel loosely focused on a young man, working at a video store in central Iowa, who finds disturbing things recorded on some of the tapes that get returned to the store. Much less focused on the horror-mystery plot than the character interactions and the physical and cultural details of daily life in central Iowa. Sad and spooky in a way that I liked a lot.

Weike Wang, Chemistry

A graduate student in chemistry goes through a breakup and processes her feelings about love and her unsatisfactory family life and her failure as a graduate student. Nicely written. The ratio of internal monologue and introspection to things actually happening was a little much for me.

Sunil Yapa, Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist

Tight and compelling novel about the WTO riots in Seattle in 1999, centered on a white police chief and his estranged mixed-race son. I liked this a lot, especially in the way that the political parts managed to clearly and strongly advocate for certain values while not pretending to have solved all the problems of non-exploitative economic development in underdeveloped countries. The ending was a little sentimental.

Edward O. Wilson, Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight For Life

Essays on ecology centering on the thesis that we should leave half the earth for the use of nonhuman species - focusing on biological hotspots and large contiguous areas of wilderness. I wish he were a little more interesting as a writer, because I like his ideas. (Although the chapter on novel ecosystems recalled a discussion I had with Nick from my Restoration Ecology class; Nick thought that accepting that there are some ecosystems we're never going to get back to a "pristine" or "undisturbed" state would lead people to be careless about turning land into gravel pits full of battery acid, while I thought that... hey, there are going to be gravel pits full of battery acid; I would rather we tried to do something positive with them than giving up on them entirely).

Phoebe Wagner and Brontë Christopher Wieland, Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation

To be reviewed for Flyway Journal soon. There's a lot of good stuff in here, especially the poetry.

Caitlin R. Kiernan, Agents of Dreamland

A slightly Lovecraftian novella of cults and brain-controlling parasites. I enjoyed this the whole way through but could not tell you what happened. I think I've liked the other Kiernan books I've read a bit better because they've had more room for the characters to unfold - they're kind of ciphers in this one.

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