Oh hey, is it Wednesday? I thought it was Tuesday...
And after a short hiatus, I am back.
What I Just Finished Reading
Apartment Therapy – Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan
I picked this one up as a curbside adoption because I'd heard of the blog. I was expecting it to be a load of hipster bull, but found the contents to be surprisingly unpretentious and practicable. Gillingham-Ryan's advice isn't exactly revolutionary – keep your home clean and organized, get rid of things you don't use, buy a few high-cost items instead of lots of cheap crap, get rid of electronic distractions, eat food you cook yourself – but I enjoyed the way he presented them. Product and brand shilling was also kept to a minimum. Taken together, these elements made the book's aspirational elements (Gillingham-Ryan's clients can afford far more space, luxury item, and renovation options that most people I know) less irritating than they might otherwise have been. This book was very much worth the effort to read.
Indonesian Slang – Peter Torchia
The title is deeply misleading; I would expect any book about Indonesian slang to, at the very least, handle me- to ng- and -kan to -in transformations, and obscenities. A better title would have been Indonesian Sayings and Idioms, which are what the volume focuses, often well, on.
デンキ – 直野儚羅 (Denki – Naono Bohra)
“I got so into developing these characters I almost forgot I had to include sex scenes,” Naono writes in one of her free talks, making me wish – and not for the first time – that Japanese publishers were less formulaic. Denki has a good sampling of all the Naono tropes, from oyagi to supernatural beings, that I love, and yes, a lot of really good sex scenes. I just wish she had free reign to really draw out the slow burn. (My diabolical plan is to cross Naono with Sugiura to produce a mangaka who writes 30 volume epics with blistering etchi.) As I mentioned last week, most of these stories are available in her other Reijin collections, but it's nice to see them in a new context here.
銀の風遠い刻 ― 小田切ほたる (Gin no Kaze Tohi Toki – Odagiri Hotaru)
Dark secret: I bought this volume in 2003 and have just now got around to reading it; thus, I did not make the connection with the Uraboku Odagiri. For what it's worth, the 1996-1999 Odagiri wrote very sweet, very chaste shonen-ai that is very much of its time (to wit: the laughably outdated “Oh noes, I am gay,” and the very particular brand of late '90s expectation that the audience will fill in the blanks as to why these characters are in Eternal Love after precisely zero meaningful interactions). But Heian-era demons are A Thing of mine, so I'll be holding on to this volume.
What I Am Currently Reading
Jane Steele – Lyndsay Faye
Much like the original Jane Eyre, this novel hit a long rut where nothing much in particular seems to happen for next to forever. Having now soldiered through that, I am very intrigued by where the story seems to be going. In particular, we seem to be heading toward a minor reckoning involving Britain's colonization of the Indian subcontinent. The writing is as period-perfect as ever. I'm very much enjoying the ride.
Younger – Susan Munshower
I'm very much enjoying the ride here, too. Munshower does such a good job of subtly fleshing out her characters and their psychologies that the introduction of some potentially Jason Bourne-esque elements at the halfway point has me intrigued vice rolling my eyes. I hope the latter half of the book stays true to form.
Indonesian: A Comprehensive Grammar – James Sneddon, K. Alexander Adelaar, Dwi Djenar
Yes! I have made it to the ter- verbs, which Sneddon helpfully sorts into five categories based on function and nuance. As with the previous content, his explanations are parsimonious and incredibly helpful in making sense of complex meanings and usages.
ルードヴィヒII世 1 - 氷栗優 (Ludwig II vol. 1 – Higuri You)
Boy howdy, here's another volume that's showing its age with the “You drugged me and I woke up tied to the furniture with my clothes torn off and you raping me, and now I'm desperately in love with you” plot progression. I either just do not see this shortcut anymore in the romantic stuff, or the pasted-on romance in the kink (or maybe I'm just better at purchasing stuff that hits my kinks and DNWs). That said, Higuri does a good job of blending this improbability into the historical record, and it's interesting to see the early emergence of her particular kinks here.
沈黙入門 - 小池 龍之介 (Chinmoku Nyumon – Koike Ryunosuke)
A Zen Buddhist monk who thinks more Japanese should emulate the ethos of 1970's British punk. Koike does not mince words while dismantling all the tatemae on which Japanese society operates. It's exhilarating to read, but part of me can't get over the sense that a certain degree of tatemae is necessary for any society to function.
彼方者の困惑 – 直野 儚羅 (Atchimono no Meiwaku – Naono Bohra)
Chibis! Youkai! Tentative oyaji! So far this has a lot of my favorite Naono go-to's. That said, the first chapter (as far as I've got) reads as though it's reintroducing the characters instead of introducing them. As far as I can tell, this is not the second volume in any series. I'm hoping this disconnect is resolved as the story develops.
終点Unknown 1 - 杉浦 志保 – (Shuten Unknown vol. 1 – Sugiura Shiho)
Returning to the first volume after finishing the latter three, I have a new appreciation for the long game Sugiura is playing within the limited confines of five volumes. I'm impressed by the number of scenes that have become poignant in hindsight. And props to anyone who can write an entire volume in which we never learn the characters' names.
What I'm Reading Next
Necklace of Kisses – Francesca Lia Block
This may irrevocably spoil Weetzie Bat for me, but I'm going in anyway.