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August

The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente
When I Was King by Linda Ashman, ill. by David McPhail
Very Hairy Bear by Alice Schertle, ill. by Matt Phelan
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
To the Touch^ by Shannon Connor Winward
Blood on the Forehead: What I Know About Writing by M. E. Kerr
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson

Date: 2010-09-01 12:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sidhe-etain.livejournal.com
#1 is my very favorite book :)

Date: 2010-09-01 12:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] richlayers.livejournal.com
How about the sequel? I haven't read it yet but I got it from the library!

Date: 2010-09-01 12:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sidhe-etain.livejournal.com
I really consider the two of them to be one book together. The whole thing was so overwhelmingly amazing.

My Goodreads review:


"Writing about music is like dancing about architecture," or so the old quote says. I can't help but remember this saying as I attempt to write down some of my fragmented, all too feeble thoughts regarding Catherynne Valente's masterwork, The Orphan Tales: In the Night Garden and In the Cities of Coin and Spice. To start out with a bang, I have to tell you what my reaction was upon completing the last page of the second book. It was 1am, and I set the book down, after having to re-read one of the pivotal revelations on the last page and say "ohhh...I SEE." I turned the light out, lay down in bed, and started crying. And I don't just mean a few pinpricks from my eyes like I've had happen for a handful of tales over the years. I mean nose-sniffling, shoulder-shaking crying. I cried and I shook my head as I cried, laughing at myself for reacting more strongly than I had to any book I'd ever read. I cried because the books were done. I cried because the ending was so incredible. I cried because I was in awe of Catherynne Valente, only one year older than me, and having given something to the world of myth and story and imagination that I feel should go into the same column (and high in that column) as the greatest contributors of all time. How can one person have so much inside? And be able to get it all out onto the page?

This book is not an easy read. Let me tell you that straight-out as well. Many people have written reviews saying "I couldn't keep track of the stories" or "the format was too distracting, with the nested stories." I also found this to be true the first time I read the first book. I got to a little over page 100, and returned it to the library. But Valente's name kept cropping up...first on Endicott Studios, featuring an incredible short story I loved, then on Jen Parrish's website, as she created a gorgeous necklace in the shape of a boat with red sails for an auction. I sought out more of Cat's short stories, and I was blown away by every single one. Finally I decided to try the book again, settling down with it at the start of winter, when the fire crackled in my fireplace, and the stories folded around me like blankets against the snow. I approached it with more patience, and gave it time, rather than trying to rush through it. And I discovered that this book was not only good...it was the most imaginative, fully-formed, genius, and moving work of literature I'll most likely ever read.

If I seem to be overly prosaic and prone to hyperbole about this book, (I should say books, since it's a duology, but the two volumes fit together like one work) it's just a symptom of how much it has crept into every fiber of me. I now want to write extra stories about descendants of her tales. I want to create art showing the pivotal moments in the stories that I adored.

The message of the books is both simple and incredibly complex. The tales themselves are both an intricate symphony, and a simple thread that weaves around to end at a simple resolution. Valente is the Weaver of these tales, closing her eyes, grabbing all that is around her, and remaking it into beautiful gowns, girls, and cities, knowing all the while where the tales will end, whether that end is happy or sad.

A side note: I read a review on here saying that the reader didn't understand why Valente received the Tiptree Award, since her book only featured female protagonists, and didn't seem to make any new contributions to feminism. I cannot imagine that this reader read the same book that I did. The feminism carried through in every tale in a tale in a tale. Valente took every mythic archetype, every trope, and turned it on its head, making you think to yourself "well why DO I always assume a Selkie is a woman, or that a Satyr is a man? Why DID I presume that the sailor who stole Sigrid from her home had to be a man? And why can't daughters grow up to be warriors, and sons grow up to be beautiful?"

Date: 2010-09-01 08:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] richlayers.livejournal.com
So... I get the impression... you're saying... you liked it? :)

I can't wait to read the other one. I've got an interlibrary loan book to finish, but it's HIGH on my priority! I'd love to talk about it after I read it!

Date: 2010-09-01 09:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sidhe-etain.livejournal.com
Sort of. Just a little. ;)

I'd love to talk too!! Let me know when you're done :)

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