Monday, December 12, 2016

The Pleasures of Reading, Viewing, and Listening in 2016, part 1: Lisa Tuttle

Pleasures of Reading, 2016 
 by Lisa Tuttle 

The best book I’ve read this year is Jaggannath by Karin Tidbeck. I’ve been hearing amazing things about this author’s work for a few years, and I see that the e-book I finally got around to purchasing only a couple of months ago was published in 2012 by Cheeky Frawg Books – four years? Really? It took me that long to follow up on all those positive reviews (“You must read Karin Tidbeck” – Caitlin R. Kiernan; “Tidbeck has a gift for the uncanny and the unsettling. In these wonderful, subtle stories...”—Karen Joy Fowler. “I have never read anything like Jagannath. Karin Tidbeck’s imagination is recognizably Nordic, but otherwise unclassifiable—quietly, intelligently, unutterably strange.” – Ursula K. Le Guin.) and recommendations by people I trust, writers whose own work I adore... Wow. Well, better late than never, and if you still haven’t discovered this brilliant, original voice in the genre various described as “weird” or “strange” or even “science fiction” (the title story is certainly that – a mind-blower) – what are you waiting for? Trust me. This could be the best book you read in 2017.

Other books that really grabbed me this year are I Love Dick by Chris Kraus, The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong, Katherine Carlyle by Rupert Thomson, and The Mule by David Quantick.

I’ve also been reading Georges Simenon’s Maigret books, newly translated into English for Penguin Classics – short trips into vividly described settings, each a perfect snapshot of a particular time and place, and intriguing mysteries, too. The quote by William Faulkner seemed unlikely – “I love reading Simenon. He makes me think of Chekhov.” – but now I understand. For various reasons, this year I reread several books which had been important to me in the past, and am happy to report they all stand up to rereading and really were as good as I remembered: Kindred by Octavia Estelle Butler, The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark, Lincoln’s Dreams by Connie Willis and – most importantly, perhaps, in these frightening times, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

 Lisa Tuttle is the author of numerous novels and short story collections. Her most recent novel, published this year, is The Curious Affair of the Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief. She has also published nonfiction and more than a dozen books for younger readers. In 1974 she won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and, in 1987, the BSFA award in the short fiction category. Aqueduct Press published her novella My Death in 2008 (which is now available as an ebook). Born and raised in Houston, Texas, she has made her home in a remote rural region of Scotland for the last twenty years.

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