Thursday, 9 March 2023

Favourite Books I've Read This Year In Progress


Michael Wallis: The Best Land Under Heaven. The Donner Party in the Age of Manifest Destiny.
David Welky: A Wretched and Precarious Situation. In Search of the Last Arctic Frontier. 
Buddy Levy: Empire of Ice and Stone: The Disastrous and Heroic Voyage of the Karluk.


Marisa Crane: I Keep My Exoskeleton to Myself. 
Rebecca Rotert: Last Night at the Blue Angel.
Trang Thanh Tran: She Is a Haunting.

I Keep My Exoskeleton to Myself
is a very grim twist on a world that values a twisted concept of safety above freedom. Marisa Crane's protagonist Kris is a "Shadester": in this dystopian world, the criminal justice system has been radically transformed, and anyone who has been found to transgress is given a second shadow, and is discriminated against and constantly observed. After the traumatic death of her wife, she is raising her child in the shadow of this unfair and oppressive system, navigating discrimination and the mistrust and violence of those who are biased against her while trying to cope with her own trauma. This is a novel about someone who is trying, desperately, to build a liveable future for herself and her daughter against impossible odds, finding her own path to parenthood and meaningful resistance.

Rebecca Rotert
's Last Night at the Blue Angel is told through the eyes of two protagonists, the enigmatic singer Naomi Hill, who is escaping her childhood home to build a career as a Chicago singer, and through the eyes of her daughter years later, coping with a parent who is ill-suited to parenthood. The portrait of the queer night life of Chicago in the 1960s is beautiful, as is Sophia's relationship with father-stand-in Jim, a photographer (based on Richard Nickel), who is desperate to preserve Chicago's architecture against a policy of urban renewal that is focused on destruction. Sophia's dread of nuclear annihilation and feeling that nothing is permanent translates into endless lists of things that she fears will be lost, Jim's fear of the loss of architectural heritage is translated into photography of a city that is fading. 

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