Nothing for me, thanks!
And the annual book flood.
Snow’s sifting down, the thermometer is sitting at one degree Fahrenheit, and my kid is waiting for me to resume reading MOOMINLAND MIDWINTER in honor of the Great Cold.
Before we rejoin the ranks of the lonely and the rum, two short reviews to close out my year:
Percival Everett’s DR. NO: Consider the slide whistle. Reading this book was like being in that sound, a wild, giddy, glorious swoop. The mathematician Wala Kitu is an expert in the study of nothing; his closest friend is a pragmatic one-legged dog named Trigo who offers wise counsel in Wala’s dreams. He needs it, especially once he is pulled into the orbit of John Milton Bradley Sill, a Black billionaire and aspiring Bond villain seeking to steal nothing (it’s stored at Fort Knox) to harness its awesome power against the United States, a country that has never given Black folks anything and deserves nothing in return. When Wala’s colleague, the naive topology specialist Eigen Vector (lol) stumbles into Sill’s clutches, he slowly begins to realize working for Sill might be a mistake, especially after Sill feeds one of his henchmen to sharks. Oh, and there is also a lunkhead government agent named Bill Clinton on their trail. Graywolf Press describes this as “a caper with teeth,” and whoever wrote that line of copy should get a raise, because unlike 94.73% of book promotion verbiage, it is exactly right. Laugh-out-loud funny and a satisfying delight, esp. if you like to read for the experience of rattling around inside someone else’s fearsomely clever and capacious brain. Who knew nothing could be so much fun?
Marie Redonnet’s UNDERSTUDIES: Redonnet beguilingly described these stories/characters as “twelve little machines to make death and failure.” So if you are looking for some lightsome holiday fare, click off the Hallmark channel and pick up this slim gem. Another brain-rattler, these brief stories about the futile lives of cryptic characters with names like Lem and Lam reminded me of Tangrams: a set of shapes, rearranged into shape-y patterns (because after all a Tangram duck still looks like triangles and parallelograms), tracing what happens to people as they either try to be like someone else or step out of the pattern set for their lives. (Spoiler alert: death and disaster and decay, but gently.) I’m very curious to read what else she has written now.
Wishing everyone in cold places warmth, and everyone everywhere something good to read.
Bookmarking: HIVES: A VISUAL HISTORY OF THE BEEHIVE.
Books that might make good gifts, depending on the recipient
Images: The Lady of the Cold; Tove Jansson’s winter bonfire from MOOMINLAND MIDWINTER.
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