Aug. 24th, 2017

highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Currently Reading: Too many things. Baumgartner's 'Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics', which is turning out a bit meh. Some work stuff. Essays. Etc.

Recently Finished: Still a backlog of these.

Archer: The Spaces Issue (Archer Magazine, #8)Archer: The Spaces Issue by Amy Middleton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As with the previous, this was a beautiful magazine - the visual quality is really high. The testimonial piece 'gay in detention' from 'They Cannot Take the Sky' was... very moving and very important. The Regan Lynch piece on m/m public sex also fascinated me, and was beautifully illustrated with what look like oil paintings by Ali Franco.

The Alpine Path: The Story of My CareerThe Alpine Path: The Story of My Career by L.M. Montgomery

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was interesting, and engaging, and it was fun to see LMM's PEI anecdotes sewn together in her ancestral context rather than in her books. It's not a particularly *literary* memoir, and it's also... not about her career. Apparently a women's magazine asked for a piece on her career, and got a memoir series instead: I find the framing very interesting, in that she begins 'her career' with her childhood and her ancestry, and pays very little attention to her actual work throughout. It's as if she needs to disclaim personal ambition, although that she did have a considerable amount of that comes through when she talks about writing poetry and stories while working for a newspaper.

The Ministry of Utmost HappinessThe Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't know. I think I'm holding my opinion of this book in abeyance until I can find some reviews of it by Indian trans people, ideally Hijras.

Things that are good about it:
- Roy's writing, her knack for words, is lush and I haven't found anything like it. The critics are right that this one is a little more florid than Small Things (it has what I think of as Order of the Pheonix Syndrome: previous book such a success, editor was unwilling to apply the pruning sheers as needed), but I did really enjoy the cutting between PsOV and the interlaced timelines. It wasn't clear until very late in the book how the various threads were going to tie up, and a couple of the earlier transitions were a bit jagged, but it all held together by the end.
- The description, and the little quirks of characterisation, remain her great strength
- I loved the attention to both positive and fraught cases of religious intersection. I realise that's a fact of life in India, but it seemed more prominent here than even in Small Things.

Thing I had a problem with:
- I just don't know what to make of the language choices around Anjum: the narrative does bring up the gendered language of Urdu and Hindi, factors that aren't that present in English. The text shifts between describing her as woman and not-woman, which, given we're talking about a third-gender group, is possibly appropriate. (Likewise, there's an interesting distinction made between Anjum, a more old-fashioned Hijra, and her junior who ends up leading the household, who defines herself using terms like 'trans'.) Some of the lines about 'making the real women look drab' made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, but I don't know if that's a distinction that is as problematic to the hijra community as it is to western trans communities.
- I do think it really wasn't necessary to specify that the last orgasm Anjum had was before she had SRS. It's possible that that replicates a fact from the life of the cemetery-dwelling Hijra Roy drew on for the character, but... it didn't add anything to the story, except to underline Anjum as 'broken'. I mean. That she's making difficult compromises between her needs and her wants (eg: to become a hijra, versus to maintain her family connections) and that she's serially damaged by various factors in her life is already so many other plot points. That last one just... replicates a voyeuristic interest in deviant genitalia.

Blue Ribbon Recipes: Prize-Winning Recipes From The Sydney Royal Easter ShowBlue Ribbon Recipes: Prize-Winning Recipes From The Sydney Royal Easter Show by Pam Casellas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I bought this at the show in 2013. It's mostly a LOOKING AT book for me - for old-fashioned cake staples I resort to the Women's Weekly. But as a looking at book, it's rewarding: lovely photography, charming exhibitor bios.

View all my reviews

Also: The Gruffalo (again), Meanjin winter 2017, Science of the Discworld II, The Abyss Surrounds Us, In Other Lands, Spectred Isle (again), Interpreter of Maladies, Courting the Countess, and Spindle's End

Up Next: Possibly the sequel to The Abyss Surrounds Us. Possibly 'The Guest Cat'. Definitely some more work non-fiction reading.

Music Notes: LORDE. HOW ABOUT THAT LORDE, HUH? I bought 'Melodrama'. Trojie also informed me that a Bruce Springsteen live cover of Royals exists. Been listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac's 'Tusk', and as of today, spotify is providing me with KD Lang.


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