What I Just Finished Reading
The Devil's Feast – M.J. Carter
So. Damn. GOOD.
Seriously, this is the best thing she's written. Expect an entire entry devoted to this book in the coming days.
What I Am Currently Reading
Japan and Korea – Frank Carpenter
It's insane how much Japan has changed in 90 years, and how Westernized it's become. Incidentally, standards of acceptability for educated Western authors discussing other cultures have also changed massively, and thank goodness. For instance, in the six chapters I read this week Carpenter makes much of the West's superiority to Japan, particularly in the realm of gender equality. And yet he regularly pens things like: Not in all Japan were there enough maidens with shapely legs. Perhaps it is the habit of squatting on the floor that gives the Japanese women such ugly legs. At any rate, a rainy day in Tokyo is full of disillusions for the foreign admirer of the ladies of the “Sunrise Kingdom,” for as they go long the streets with their kimonos lifted out of the wet, they expose about the most unlovely limbs imaginable.
As far as Carpenter's concerned, a woman's worth is determined solely by how pleasant she is for men to look at. And if she's also an accomplished artist or the founder of a multi-billion dollar corporation, well, that's an oddity worth remarking on in passing, but more importantly, Is she pretty? There's no men's “rights” movement hostility here; Carpenter assumes as a matter of course that the interests and opinions that matter are those of men, and writes to them exclusively. It's a nice reminder that for as bad as things still are, they really have improved.
Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie
This is the worldbuilding that I desire.
The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch
I rabidly despise the chaotic evil alignment. Locke Lamora is a chaotic evil character, and therein lies my problem with this book. At this point, I doubt there's going to be any soul-searching; Lamora is the hero because Lynch says he is, and the same vicious behavior is good when Locke does it and worthy of drawn-out death when another character does it because Lynch says it is. For all he's constructed a massive fantasy RPG setting, Lynch is stunningly imperceptive when it comes to human interaction. I hope fanfic is its saving grace.
The Wasting of Borneo – Alex Shoumatoff
I've had to put this book down several times already, and I'm only 18 pages in. Shoumatoff is a talented chronicler of humankind's degradation of the environment. It's necessary but difficult reading.
Indonesian: A Comprehensive Grammar – James Sneddon, K. Alexander Adelaar, Dwi Djenar
I've started hopping around a bit to cover some of the things I find myself regularly needing to use, to include: pun, the passive-two construction, embedded questions, and dependent clauses with yang.
What I'm Reading Next
Caitin Moran's Moranifesto is $1.99 on Amazon today, so probably that, along with half-a-dozen or so library books I need to return soon.