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Joined 1 year ago

An English prof in New England. Most of my reading is re-reading for class, but when reading for myself I enjoy challenging and unusual reads, often with fantastic, sci-fi, or postmodern elements.

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snowka's books

To Read

Currently Reading

Colson Whitehead: Harlem Shuffle (Paperback, 2021, Little, Brown Book Group Limited) 4 stars

Whitehead is quite good at drawing you into his character's situations. His historical fiction describes the lives of Black characters in the U.S., from the enslaved characters in Underground Railroad to the reform-school menagerie of The Nickle Boys, to the life of Ray Carney, 1960s furniture salesman and part-time crook, in Harlem Shuffle. Starting the story is a bit of an investment--a legit furniture salesman is not the most promising dramatic focus--but that investment pays off. Carney is a character you want to meet and understand, and you'll want to follow him to the soon-to-be-released sequel, Crook Manifesto.

Ladee Hubbard: Last Suspicious Holdout (Hardcover, 2022, Blackstone Audio, Incorporated) No rating

The twelve stories in The Last Suspicious Holdout and Other Stories capture powerful and poignant …

A collection of 13 short stories about African American life in the United States between 1992 and 2007. There are some characters that reoccur in different stories, which allows for more character development than is often possible in the short story genre. For me, though, the power was in the stories as free-standing works of their own. These are unsparing stories of people in unfair situations that they often do not fully understand but which the reader perceives through the dramatic irony that Hubbard creates so well. Read the first story, "The Flip Lady (1992)," and it will surprise you. If it has you intrigued, you'll want to keep reading up to and through the longest of the collection, "The Last Suspicious Holdout (2001)," to find out what's been going on in the Leon Moore Center for Creative Unity and Byrdie's Burgers.

R. F. Kuang: Babel (Harper Voyager) 4 stars

Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal. 1828. Robin Swift, …

A postcolonial, antiracist Harry Potter

4 stars

Kuang's story surprises. This coming-of-age (and coming-of-revolution) story introduces us to a world where the the 19th-century Industrial Revolution is made possible not by steam and worker oppression but by the magical powers of translation and colonial exploitation. The experiences of the protagonist, a Cantonese boy that adopts the English name Robin Swift, lead us to an imagined Oxford that is as intriguing as Hogwarts but that has sins that Kuang not only does not whitewash, but makes the centerpiece of her novel. The historical notes and especially the etymological explanations are fascinating, if occasionally pedantic. Once you get your head around this world and how it works, you'll want to hang on to the end to see how a postcolonial critique during the height of the British Empire can possibly turn out.

Hiroko Oyamada, David Boyd: Weasels in the Attic (EBook, 2022, New Directions Publishing Corporation) 5 stars

Three connected short stories about exotic fish, weasels, and the mysteries of having a child

No rating

Originally published individually between 2012-2014, these three short stories titled "Death in the Family," "The Last of the Weasels," and "Yukiko" feature a couple struggling to have a child. This struggle is figured and explored in three strange dinner parties with friends and acquaintances. As with Oyamada's other stories, animals have great significance for the humans , but in these the there are more metaphors than actual transformations. As always, you can never guess where Oyamada's storytelling is taking you.

Hiroko Oyamada, David Boyd: The Factory (Paperback, 2019, New Directions) 3 stars

A surprising satire of working life in contemporary Japan

3 stars

Like the other works of hers that I've read, The Hole and Weasels in the Attic, Oyamada begins by easing readers into the situations of her characters. Before long, though, their worlds begin to unravel. Following four characters in their strange occupations on the enormous campus of an unnamed factory, Oyamada builds suspense as questions about the factory mount and the surreal becomes more and more real.