Nothing so fully captures the dialect of pirates, scalawags, cheapskates and conmen as this dictionary. It is the "urban dictionary" of the 18th centuNothing so fully captures the dialect of pirates, scalawags, cheapskates and conmen as this dictionary. It is the "urban dictionary" of the 18th century and is worth a gander for anyone writing anything set in this time....more
If I ever had any doubts that Lewis and Chesterton pull from MacDonald, this book eradicated them.
The North Wind, as we know, can be a terribly destruIf I ever had any doubts that Lewis and Chesterton pull from MacDonald, this book eradicated them.
The North Wind, as we know, can be a terribly destructive force. But to get around back of her and see things from her perspective, to be spared the force of her fury long enough to see the grace of her gaze, to know the joy of riding her and the honor of her invitation to do so – these things make the suffering in this world sharable. And it is burden-sharing that makes life sweet....more
For anyone unfamiliar with the way the daily office works, this is the easiest entry point –the box in the upper right corner that mark off the days oFor anyone unfamiliar with the way the daily office works, this is the easiest entry point – the box in the upper right corner that mark off the days of the year make this worth the purchase price.
Here's the thing: you're never going to agree with everything in a book, even if the book is a classic, a modern classic, or historically important.
ThHere's the thing: you're never going to agree with everything in a book, even if the book is a classic, a modern classic, or historically important.
That said, I think this book is incredibly important in the terms of the history of the security state. If heeded – if acted upon as Doctorow implores at the beginning – it may well change the course of things as this generation of kids grows up.
Assuming, of course, they read it.
The danger would be that through obscurity, censorship, or unavailability this book falls by the wayside. The danger would be that people relegate it to the realm of science fiction when it's really more like a YA modern spy novel, the kind of thing that has more in common with Tom Clancy than Orson Scott Card.
It's because Doctorow's pulling from existing technology, cryptology, and cultural norms. The security state described in this book currently exists. I picked up a copy because I'm halfway through the third draft of this novel I'm writing called "The Faceless," but I didn't want Little Brother to influence me too heavily. I knew L.B. was a popular book and was seven years old, so I wanted to make sure that I had enough distance from it.
It doesn't matter in the end because Doctorow's engaging a holistically modern context – I find myself drawing on his opinions about these themes without using his tricks, and that's a mark of a great novel – one that sticks with you because of its subtext rather than just the surface stuff. I will be thinking about his commentary on security for some time now.
So yeah, you should definitely read this one. Then you should put it into practice however you can....more
When your friend sends you a manuscript to review and you’ve overloaded yourself with an inconsistent reading pattern peppered over three dozen half-fWhen your friend sends you a manuscript to review and you’ve overloaded yourself with an inconsistent reading pattern peppered over three dozen half-finished books, time passes.
Eighteen months, as it turns out.
Plus a month delay for writing this review.
I started "The Silver Sickle" when Ellie sent it in February 2013. Started it again in April. Read about a page at a time for the first six months I had it, and read them on my phone (that was the quickest way for me to side load the book, but probably the poorest choice in retrospect considering my reading habits). So it started slow for me, disorienting even. This may be a problem with the narrative or it might have been my situation in life at the time, who knows? I do know that it jumps in pretty quick with some assumptions about the world and its races. This strategy left me a bit lost. I like this technique in John le Carré, the way he assumes the reader speaks spy, but I doubt it works so smoothly for this book. Again, that could have been my transition to NYC talking – everything in my life at the time was disorienting. Even prize-winning beers can taste terrible if you get a bad pour.
It’s really irrelevant whether or not the book starts out slow, because in terms of sheer page count, the narrative picks up sooner rather than later. Heck, even “The Name of the Wind” starts out painfully slow compared to the pace of the rest of Rothfuss’ story. I doubt that a slow start is always an overshadowing fault.
Exhibit B: Dickens
I read a bit more as the months went on, in larger chunks, and especially on the plane to NYC. And then just as Epiphany comes after the dark of Advent, someone shed light on this simple idea that no more time behind the wheel means MUCH MORE time to read. In New York, I’m finding these train rides are perfectly suited for side loaded books, especially because of the lighter weight. I’m carrying my phone anyways, right?
I suddenly had a minimum of 45 minutes of reading time injected into my schedule every three days, if not more. And I started to get the gist of this book and what Ellie’s trying to do and to say and to accomplish. In general, I think she hit her mark. Let me parse that out:
For one, Ellie told a fine SciFi story.
There are tons of people left in Joplin – even members of the Limner’s Society of which Ellie and I both took part – who have yet to read her book and that’s a shame, not just because she’s a member of the group and we support each other, but more importantly because it’s a •good• book. Maybe they’re waiting for permission: READ IT, PEOPLE. I’ll give you twelve bucks if you’re broke, twelve bucks barely buys me lunch these days.
See the book deals with significant issues we face, pulls a framework from one of the greatest pieces of literature in existence, and then wraps it all up in a science fiction package. She’s saying some very interesting things with her themes here, and I like everything she’s saying:
Like it’s not okay to own a brothel, regardless of what the system says.
Like “obedience is better than sacrifice,” which she says on the cosmi-cultural level. One culture thinks of itself as gods, the other as servants. One culture sustains itself by sacrifice, the other by obedience. The consequences of their systemic postures show up in power by the climax and conclusion.
Like authority is always given, never taken – authority that is given is always more powerful.
Like beauty starts with character.
These show up in the midst of a swarm of other equally powerful themes.
Ellie also found a way to create a literal deus ex machina without resorting completely to figurative deus ex machina, which is terribly clever. The kind of clever I wish I could steal. The kind of clever that, had I Skylar’s powers, I’d…
No. No, that’s insane. But it was a clever move and I was nodding along as I admired her story’s brickwork after having enjoyed the architecture as a whole.
The best part? At several points, the sheer force of Ellie’s narrative barred me from remembering that I know the author who wrote this book. It felt as if I had pulled a solid story from my library’s shelves and read it like the lit fanboy I’ve have always been. Other than divine inspiration from the Muse to go and create himself, that may be the greatest joy any reader can experience: to read a book written by a friend and subsequently forget your friend wrote it during the story’s best moments. Had a friend recommended this book, I would have bought it and enjoyed it alongside many of the other solid fantasy fiction reads I've encountered in the last few years.
I know a lot of people who wouldn’t like the book, but that’s mostly a genre bias and predisposition to hate fantasy, for some unknown and unfounded reason. For fans of fantasy or the book of Esther or SciFi or steam punk – this would be a great one to put in your cue. There’s enough terrible genre lit out there, it’s refreshing to find one with moments of bliss.
Is it perfect?
Well no, but the virtues of this story far outweigh its vices – which is the same thing I’d say of Doctorow’s “Little Brother,” mainly because Gaiman said it first and that makes it okay, right? This book is an important book for the conversations it engages and that is enough, regardless of nitpicky details. Not every dinner can be sushi prepared by the best sushi chef in the world. Sometimes it’s nice to simply taste a solid meal composed of ingredients you never expected to see gathered together. “The Silver Sickle” is one of those meals, and it’s a great way to expand your palate.
So buy it.
Tell her Lancelot sent you and keep her on your radar for the future. If her books keep improving at this pace, I predict her fifth novel will put her pretty firmly on the map. At least I hope it will – it’d be cool to know someone who’s a household name in the scifi/fantasy world.
But even if that doesn’t happen, the book was easily worth my time – all eighteen months it took me to read it. It’ll probably take you only ten hours or so, since most everyone reads faster than me.
Great work, Ellie. Looking forward to the next one....more
Read in the right accent, this is the funniest book of modern poems you'll find.
But don't mistake "funny" with "trite" –every single time I read thisRead in the right accent, this is the funniest book of modern poems you'll find.
But don't mistake "funny" with "trite" – every single time I read this cover-to-cover, I weep on the last page because of what it meant in the life of David Lee and what it means in my life as I try to rediscover my roots and let them drink deep enough to fill me with my art.
C.D. Wright single-handedly redefined and expanded my view of poetry's potentia with this little book. My copy was given to me by one of my readers anC.D. Wright single-handedly redefined and expanded my view of poetry's potentia with this little book. My copy was given to me by one of my readers and it grows deeper and more profound with every reading.
It's no coincidence that she works – that her husband also works – at Copper Canyon. With a meditation on poetry like this, how could you do anything other than invest in the next great generation of poets?...more
Here's the thing: Belsky has great ideas in the book, but he makes them happen with bad examples. Thomas Kinkaide and James Patterson aren't the bestHere's the thing: Belsky has great ideas in the book, but he makes them happen with bad examples. Thomas Kinkaide and James Patterson aren't the best examples when you want to impress artists.
There are workhorses who do. Stephen King's a machine, but not a hack. Piccasso cranked them out. We could make a list, I'm sure.
But if making ideas happen means making them happen even when they should die, it's not worth it.
The practical suggestions in this book you can find anywhere, but its interest is in the applicability to artists. Belsky does a good enough job there that the book's worth four stars. ...more
Had I the money to buy a copy of this book for every freelancer and small business owner I've ever met, I would buy all of the copies this evening andHad I the money to buy a copy of this book for every freelancer and small business owner I've ever met, I would buy all of the copies this evening and ship them tomorrow morning.
I don't know if I'll ever make a million selling fiction, but I will be a millionaire if I live to see sixty-five—all because I read this book and "The New Buffetology" early in life (both of which, of course, led to the discovery of better and older books)....more