Sunday Status Update: May 10, 2020

Marion: I’ve been mostly reading works in manuscript. I read the first Anna Pigeon mystery, The Track of the Cat, by Nevada Barr. These mysteries, set in various US National Parks, are beloved by many. To my great surprise, I wasn’t one of them. I’m keeping on with Sarah Pinsker’s A Song for A New Day, which is excellent but benefits in a weird way from current events, because she imagined a similar situation so precisely.

Bill: This week I finished grading student papers and so was finally able to read.  In genre, I finished Nevertell by Katharine Orton, a YA novel set in Stalinist Russia, and Ghosts of Sherwood, Carrie Vaughn’s Robin Hood based novella. Both were solid enough but had issues. I also read several non-fiction works:  How to Survive in Ancient Greece by Robert Garland, A Dark History of Tea by Seren Charrington Hollins, and The Attack on Troy by Rodney Castleden, and I’m currently reading Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake, a fascinating book on fungi. Thanks to all that grading and my son’s film class assignment to watch some westerns, no genre media this week.

Sandy: Moi? Having currently finished one novel from HiLo Books’ recent Radium Age Science Fiction Series, I have immediately started in on another. The book in question is called The Clockwork Man (1923), by English author E.V. Odle. This book is considered the very first to deal with the subject of the cyborg. It has sucked me right in, and I do look forward to reporting back to you all on it shortly….

Terry: I’m reading Awakenings by Edward Lazellari with something less than perfect joy — but enough joy that I’ll probably read the next in his GUARDIANS OF AANDOR series. I also have bookmarks in More Alive and Less Lonely: On Books and Writers,, a collection of essays by Jonathan Lethem; Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime and Obsession by Rachel Monroe; and Running Against the Devil: A Plot to Save America from Trump — and Democrats from Themselves by Rick Wilson (the parody Trump tweets are worth the cost of the book in themselves). The real treat, though, is Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies by John Langan, coming soon from Word Horde, one of my favorite small, specialty presses. I’ve read the first story in Langan’s collection, “Sweetums,” and I have to say:  WTF did I just read?! I love stories that take me to that place.


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TIM SCHEIDLER, who's been with us since June 2011, holds a Master's Degree in Popular Literature from Trinity College Dublin. Tim enjoys many authors, but particularly loves J.R.R. Tolkien, Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Susanna Clarke. When he’s not reading, Tim enjoys traveling, playing music, writing in any shape or form, and pretending he's an athlete.

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6 comments

  1. I don’t know how Jonathan Lethem’s essay would be (probably great) but his last novel, A GAMBLER’S ANATOMY, fell flat for me.

  2. Marion, I used to love the Anna Pigeon books. I’d been to Guadalupe National Park and when I started The Track of the Cat, it strongly evoked the park for me. I even got a whiff of creosote!

    I continued with the series but got tired of Anna’s alcoholism. I liked it a lot when she went on the wagon. There are also several books where, if there’s a guy dismissive of women, if not an outright misogynist, that’s the bad guy.

    I think I stopped with Winter Study or maybe Borderline. I’ve debated reading the newer books, but noped out of The Rope when I read the description. It’s the story of Anna’s first park adventure as a seasonal employee where she wakes up in a dry well in the back country, naked. Yeah, I don’t need that. There’s a streak of let’s degrade Anna in the stories that I got tired of.

    • Ack, meant to include this. When Barr is ‘on’, she’s absolutely terrific with description. The other scene that stands out for me in the series is in Firestorm where Anna and some other park employees get caught in a wildfire. It’s scary and creepy.

      • I started to read the one where they had to get into their emergency shelter in the wildfire. It wasn’t my book and I never got back to it.

        I think the descriptions are her strongest thing, and those were wonderful. I did think I knew who the villain was in this one and I was right.

        I think I’ll look for other mystery series to spend time with.

    • Louise Rae /

      I love reading the Anna Pigeon books, mainly because I live in New Zealand and her descriptions of the native parks is so interesting. I have been to the Statue of Liberty and I read Liberty Falling because that park was familiar to me

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