Continuing the monthly summaries of what I’ve been reading and writing.
To keep my numbers consistent with what I have listed on Goodreads, I count completed magazine issues and stand-alone short stories in e-book format as “books.” I read or listened to 11 books in May: 4 in print, 2 in e-book format, and 5 in audio. They were:
1. Lightspeed Magazine #109 (June 2019 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams. The usual fine assortment of sf and fantasy short stories and novellas. This month’s favorites for me were Ellen Kushner’s “When Two Swordsmen Meet,” Caspain Gray’s “Unpublished Gay Cancer Survivor Memoir,” Isabel Canas’ “The Weight of A Thousand Needles,” and Karen Joy Fowler’s “The Last Worders.”
2. Alexander’s Bridge by Willa Cather. You would think that as an English major in college, I’d have read something, anything, by Willa Cather. But if I did, I don’t recall it at all (please forgive me, Professor Malcolm Marsden!). So I’m counting this as my first Cather work. I’d like to read more by her eventually. I found this one an interesting character study. Full Review HERE.
3. The History of Soul 2065 by Barbara Krasnoff. I’d previously read only three of the twenty short stories that comprise this mosaic novel that covers fifteen decades in the lives of two families. Subtle magic, strong women, strong LGB representation, strong ties to the Jewish Diaspora.
4. Spinning Around A Sun: Stories, by Everett Maroon. Flash fiction with sometimes horrific twists, these early stories by Maroon show hints of the style he works so well in his novel.
5. Fresh Kill (Jimmy McSwain Files, Book 6) by Adam Carpenter. Jimmy McSwain is back for another round of mysteries, and Carpenter returns to the character and his New York City setting with style. Full Review HERE.
6. Lumberjanes Volume 11: Time After Crime by Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh, and others. The latest Lumberjanes collection gets a bit timey-whimey, but in a very different way from Doctor Who. I was happy to see the focus this time is largely on Molly, with lots of character growth stemming out of her stressful family interactions.
7. Shout Out edited by Andrew Wheeler. This is a wonderful YA graphic novel anthology of short stories featuring pretty much the entire range of LGBTQIA+ characters across genres from science fiction and fantasy to romance (and often intermingling several genres at once). I can’t praise this one enough.
8. Synchronicity by Keira Andrews. I am notoriously under-read when it comes to gay romance (as opposed to gay sf/fantasy/horror with romance or erotica elements). For some reason, much of the gay romance I have read falls into the sports romance realm, and this short about a synchronized diving team at the Olympics is no exception. Nicely written with likeable characters.
9. From A Whisper to A Riot: The Gay Writers Who Crafted An American Literary Tradition by Adam W. Burgess. I’ve really not been doing well on the whole “read more non-fiction” thing, largely because I read non-fiction much slower than I read fiction. This work by Adam Burgess is a nicely-detailed look at a critically under-represented period in gay fiction, and it is worth your time seeking out. My full review is HERE.
10. The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan, narrated by Suzy Jackson. A first-person narration ghost story high on eeriness but not gore, featuring a narrator who is lesbian and “crazy” (by her own words). I love narrators who tell you right at the start that they are not necessarily reliable, and IMP is one of those narrators. This is a really great listen. Suzy Jackson captures the main character’s innocence and slow fraying as she goes off her meds while relating her tale.
I have a goal of reading 365 short stories (1 per day, essentially, although it doesn’t always work out that way) each year. Here’s what I did read and where you can find them if you’re interested in reading them too (with some short notes for stories that really stood out to me). If no source is noted, the story is from the same magazine or book as the story(ies) that precede(s) it:
1. “Between The Dark and the Dark” by Deji Bryce Olukotun, from Lightspeed Magazine #109 (June 2019 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams.
2. “An Advanced Readers’ Picture Book of Comparative Cognition” by Ken Liu
3. “The Harvest of a Half-Known Life” by G.V. Anderson
4. “Warhosts” by Yoon Ha Lee
5. “The Last Worders” by Karen Joy Fowler
6. “The Weight of A Thousand Needles” by Isabel Canas
7. “When Two Swordsmen Meet” by Ellen Kushner
8. “Unpublished Gay Cancer Survivor Memoir” by Caspian Gray
9. “Dust to Dust” by Tochi Onyebuchi
10. “Sun Sets Weeping” by Seanan McGuire, on the author’s Patreon page.
11. “The Clearing In the Autumn,” by Barbara Krasnoff, from her collection The History of Soul 2065.
12. “Sabbath Wine” by Barbara Krasnoff
13. “Lost Connections” by Barbara Krasnoff
14. “Hearts and Minds” by Barbara Krasnoff
15. “Cancer God” by Barbara Krasnoff
16. “In The Loop” by Barbara Krasnoff
17. “The Ladder-Back Chair” by Barbara Krasnoff
18. “The Sad Old Lady” by Barbara Krasnoff
19. “The Red Dybbuk” by Barbara Krasnoff
20. “Waiting For Jakie” by Barbara Krasnoff
21. “The Gingerbread House” by Barbara Krasnoff
22. “Time and the Parakeet” By Barbara Krasnoff
23. “Under the Bay Court Tree” by Barbara Krasnoff
24. “An Awfully Big Adventure” by Barbara Krasnoff
25. “Rosemary, That’s For Remembrance” by Barbara Krasnoff
26. “Stoop Ladies” by Barbara Krasnoff
27. “Escape Route” by Barbara Krasnoff
28. “Sophia’s Legacy” by Barbara Krasnoff
29. “The Clearing in the Spring” by Barbara Krasnoff
30. “The History of Soul 2065” by Barbara Krasnoff
31. “Chamber Speed” by Everett Maroon, from his collection Spinning Around A Sun.
32. “Crazy Making” by Everett Maroon
33. “Connaissieur” by Everett Maroon
34. “Dead Martha” by Everett Maroon
35. “Lost Boy” by Everett Maroon
36. “Conception” by Everett Maroon
37. “Mummy” by Everett Maroon
38. “Desperados” by Everett Maroon
39. “The Seamstress” by Everett Maroon
40. “Cold Statues” by Jay Lake, from The Many Tortures of Anthony Cardno, a charity anthology.
So that’s 40 short stories in June, keeping me way ahead for the year so far. (June 30th was the 181st day of 2019.)
Summary of Reading Challenges:
“To Be Read” Challenge: This month: 0 read; YTD: 3 of 14 read.
365 Short Stories Challenge: This month: 40 read; YTD: 240 of 365 read.
Graphic Novels Challenge: This month: 2 read; YTD: 17 of 52 read.
Goodreads Challenge: This month: 10 read; YTD: 71 of 125 read.
Non-Fiction Challenge: This month: 1; YTD: 5 of 24 read.
Read the Book / Watch the Movie Challenge: This month: 0; YTD: 0 of 10 read/watched.
Complete the Series Challenge: This month: 0 books read; YTD: 0 of 16 read.
Series fully completed: 0 of 3 planned
Monthly Special Challenge: I may not do something like this every month, but I set a June goal to try to read primarily work by Queer authors or centering Queer characters, since June was Pride Month.
I think I was pretty successful with this one. I’m unsure how many of the writers in the June issue of Lightspeed Magazine identify somewhere on the Queer spectrum. But Will Cather was a lesbian, Everett Maroon and Caitlin R. Kiernan are transgender, and Adam Carpenter and Adam W. Burgess are gay. Many of the creators of the Lumberjanes series and most, if not all, of the creators of the stories in the Shout Out graphic novel anthology are Queer-identifying as well. And while Barbara Krasnoff is straight, The History of Soul 2065 heavily centers two queer couples with a third couple mentioned.
Having checked several different websites, it seems like July is not a month that lends itself to any specific reading goal (it’s the National Month of several foods, though: National Baked Bean Month, Culinary Arts Month, Grilling Month, Horseradish Month, Hot Dog Month, Ice Cream Month, Blueberries Month, and Picnic Month!) So my mini-challenge to myself is going to be making July Series Month, to help me catch up on one of my year-long challenges (The “Complete The Series” Challenge).