Argh. So disappointed in myself. Things just haven’t been getting done around here. You know, because I haven’t been doing them. A combination of cranky and lazy led me to blow some things off. Unfortunately now I’m sad about having done so. Things like keeping up with my reading stats this year, and it’s at the point that I don’t think I can accurately update it. Things like letter/postcard/email writing. Things like updating my 100x100by100…so that’s what this is post is about. Trying to fill in what I can remember. Sadly, without much commentary (I say sadly because I think the commentary is what I will enjoy most looking back on the project). Anyway, here goes:
Reckonings: Contemporary Short Fiction by Native American Women may well be my favorite short story anthology ever. Though I have not read even close to the entire book yet. I somewhat randomly chose stories from it for Gray’s 10th grade short stories course. I believe we read a total of seven stories from this anthology, and every one of them touched me in some way. Most of them I positively adored. A couple simply stole my heart. One of these, “Turtle Gal” by Beth E. Brant, I mentioned previously. And the other was “Wisteria” by Patricia Riley. I believe I may have quite a soft spot for stories of the young and old, as both of these stories featured the relationship between a child and an elderly person. “Buffalo Wallow Woman” by Anna Lee Walters was sad and beautiful and triumphant, and I loved it to pieces. “Life-Size Indian” by Beth H. Piatote was powerful and painful. And “Le Mooz” (embarrassing to admit, my very first Louise Erdrich read) caught me completely off-guard with its hilarity and bittersweet charm. I want to believe that I will finish reading this anthology over the summer when the relentless press of staying caught up with homeschool is over…but I’ve learned over the years how quickly that magical two months of summer flies by. And I’ve learned to admit that while the relentless pace and urgency of keeping up during the school year isn’t there, so many of my summer hours are claimed by the necessities of planning and prepping for the next school year, and by the seemingly never-ending duties of the garden and food preservation. (You know, unless we have another completely disastrous gardening season like we did last summer.) So it will go to the pile of other partly-read books that I have set aside for summer reading, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
I read the third volume of Rat Queens. If I’m remembering correctly, it’s called Demons. I’m continuing to pretty much love this series, but it’s not so much the storyline that has me hooked–it’s the Rat Queens themselves. They are such a wonderful group of ladies. I love them because they’re irreverent. I love them because they’re both strong and vulnerable. I love them because they love one another so fiercely. I love them because they’re so damn human (okay, so they’re not human in the technical sense, but they’re human in the ways that make me relate so strongly to this species I’m a member of).
I also read volume 18 of Skip•Beat! I love this series as well, but in a very different way than I love Rat Queens. Skip•Beat! has become almost a comfort read sort of thing. I’ve enjoyed this series from the beginning, but it was around volume 12 or 13 or 14 that it really dug its hooks into me. I adore Kyoko to itty bitty pieces. And while in general I’m not really a big shipper, I totally want Kyoko and Ren together. I love all the tidbits I’m learning about Japanese culture, and about the entertainment business in Japan, and the bits of magical realism (and I might be using that term incorrectly here because I totally suck at genre, but I really do think it fits). This was not my favorite volume so far; I’m honestly not sure what I think of this current story arc (it’s not that I hate it or anything though). But I have complete confidence that there’s a lot more to love coming in future volumes.
Just as I have sometimes have trouble assigning genre to works, I also can have a tough time figuring out if most people would categorize a book as YA. Sherman Alexie’s collection of short stories titled Ten Little Indians is one of those books. (It’s not that I don’t understand that in some ways genre labels and marketing labels such as YA can be useful, but I hate that they so often come laden with judgements and pre-conceived notions.) Anyway, I’m throwing Ten Little Indians onto this particular list because: 1. I loved the book and wanted to make sure I got to include it somewhere, 2. I could have used it for short stories by authors of color, but am trying to use 100 different authors and thus would have had to pick just one story from the book, and 3. I know this is sometimes assigned reading in high school courses so the YA label seems legit. While I didn’t love all the stories in this collection equally, overall I thought it fairly consistently awesome. Identity is certainly a common theme throughout many of these stories. But these questions of “who am I?” and “where do I fit in this world?” aren’t relegated solely to the young in Alexie’s stories. In the final story of the collection (“What Ever Happened to Frank Snake Church?”), the protagonist is a 40-year-old man thrown completely off his path by the death of his father, just as he was as a teenager when his mother died. But not all of the stories are so solidly rooted to this theme. One of my favorite stories is “Do Not Go Gentle” which is about a couple fighting grief as they cling to hope for their infant who is in a coma after nearly suffocating in his crib. I won’t say more as I’d hate to spoil this little gem of a story should anyone read this. But it is about finding hope in the most surprising of places, and quite honestly, this story is a pure delight. One of my other favorite stories, “What You Pawn I Will Redeem,” is about a homeless man’s 24-hour quest to reclaim his grandmother’s powwow regalia, which had been stolen 50 years earlier, and which he stumbled upon in the window of a pawn shop. The first story in the collection is titled “Search Engine.” It contained a handful of quotes I had to add to my newest quote journal. This is the first of those:
In the Washington State University library, her version of Sherwood Forest, Corliss walked the poetry stacks. She endured a contentious and passionate relationship with this library. The huge number of books confirmed how much magic she’d been denied for most of her life, and now she hungrily wanted to read every book on every shelf. An impossible task, to be sure, Herculean in its exaggeration, but Corliss wanted to read herself to death. She wanted to be buried in a coffin filled with used paperbacks.
And I think that gets me caught up on my lackluster (in quantity, not quality) reading as of late.