2021 Books and Reading Material Acquisitions List

Welcome to the list of books and other reading materials which arrived in calendar year 2021.

This is the seventh year I have made a list like this. The previous six are here:

I keep the complete list of books I own over at LibraryThing, and the terribly incomplete list of books I have read over at GoodReads. This list will be updated frequently.

January

  1. Pasternak, Boris (Pevear, Richard and Volokhonsky, Larissa, translators), Doctor Zhivago
  2. Jama-Everett, Ayize and Jennings, JohnBox of Bones, book 1 (Rosarium Publishing)
  3. Robinson, Kim StanleyThe Ministry for the Future
  4. Batyushkov, Konstantin (France, Peter, translator) – Writings from the Golden Age of Russian Poetry (The Russian Library, Columbia University Press)
  5. Khvoshchinskaya, Sofia (Favorov, Nora Seligman, translator) – City Folk and Country Folk (The Russian Library of Columbia University Press)
  6. Sokolov, Sasha (Boguslawski, Alexander, translator) – Between Dog & Wolf (The Russian Library of Columbia University Press)
  7. Martine, ArkadyA Memory Called Empire
  8. Ashton, DyrkPaternus: Wrath of Gods, (Kickstarter exclusive HC, signed, # 108/500) (Paternus Books Media)

Books I Read in 2020

This is the list of all 86 books I read to completion in Calendar Year 2020.

I started the year focusing on short fiction, as detailed in other posts. Then the lockdown hit in March, and I was put on a crazy work project in April which had me working 50+ hour weeks, second and third shift until the end of July. In order to stay sane and balanced I switched to long-form fiction, and specifically fantasy fiction.

This was driven in no small part by a decision to write a fantasy novel. At ConFusion 2020 I spent a lot of time talking to a number of self-published authors, who have found varying degrees of success in their craft. All of them, however, were quite happy with the self-publishing route, and in reading their work I discovered for myself that which many people have known for a long time: Self-published work can be just as good, or even better, than work published through more traditional means.

These authors introduced me to the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, the winners and runners-up of which are equal (at least!) in quality to the best of traditionally published fantasy.

I have been well aware of this with reference to poetry, but for some reason the blind spot around self-published prose was more difficult to, well, see.

So I read a lot of fantasy, including the first nineteen books in R.A. Salvatore’s Legend of Drizzt sequence set in the Forgotten Realms setting of Dungeons and Dragons. There are 36 books in the series, but after 19 the boundary between reality and not-reality was beginning to blur.

In October I participated in the Sealey Challenge and read 31 poetry books in 31 days, which did wonderful things for my state of mind.

In November and December I read many of the novellas I have accrued from Subterranean Press. This also did wonderful things for my state of mind.

Anyway, here is the list. Next year I will break the long-form reading list up and combine it with the short fiction lists I have posted at the end of each month.

2020.03.05: Valencia, Sayak – Gore Capitalism

2020.04.06: Gibson, WilliamNeuromancer
2020.04.08: Walton, DavidThe Genius Plague
2020.04.09: Indiana, RitaTentacle
2020.04.11: Mieville, ChinaThe Last Days of New Paris
2020.04.12: Bacigalupi, PaoloThe Alchemist
2020.04.16: Steinmetz, FerrettThe Sol Majestic
2020.04.28: Jemisin, N.K.The City We Became

2020.05.05: Salvatore, R.A.Homeland
2020.05.08: Salvatore, R.A. – Exile
2020.05.10: Salvatore, R.A. – Sojourn
2020.05.12: Rowland, DianaMy Life as a White Trash Zombie
2020.05.23: Wang, M.L.The Sword of Kaigen
2020.05.26: Eichenlaub, Anthony W.Justice in an Age of Metal and Men

2020.06.01: McGuire, SeananEvery Heart a Doorway
2020.06.07: Shel, MikeAching God
2020.06.18: Pike, J. ZacharyOrconomics
2020.06.28: Hayes, Rob J.Where Loyalties Lie

2020.07.05: Künsken, DerekThe Quantum Magician
2020.07.06: Salvatore, R.A. – The Crystal Shard
2020.07.10: Salvatore, R.A. – Streams of Silver
2020.07.14: Salvatore, R.A. – The Halfling’s Gem
2020.07.15: Hossain, Saad Z.The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday
2020.07.16: Salvatore, R.A. – The Legacy
2020.07.17: Salvatore, R.A. – Starless Night
2020.07.18: Salvatore, R.A. – Siege of Darkness
2020.07.23: Salvatore, R.A. – Passage to Dawn
2020.07.30: Salvatore, R.A. – The Silent Blade

2020.08.03: Salvatore, R.A. – The Spine of the World
2020.08.06: Salvatore, R.A. – Sea of Swords
2020.08.08: Salvatore, R.A. – The Thousand Orcs
2020.08.10: Salvatore, R.A. – The Lone Drow
2020.08.12: Salvatore, R.A. – The Two Swords
2020.08.18: Salvatore, R.A. – The Orc King
2020.08.22: Salvatore, R.A. – The Pirate King
2020.08.28: Salvatore, R.A. – The Ghost King

2020.09.03: Ward, JesmynSing, Unburied, Sing
2020.09.17: Alexander, MichelleThe New Jim Crow
2020.09.24: Ashton, DyrkPaternus: War of Gods

2020.10.01: Rogin-Roper, LeahTwo Truths and a Lie
2020.10.02: Danos, StephenMissing Slides
2020.10.03: Mandelstam, OsipVoronezh Notebooks
2020.10.04: Almeida, AlexisI Have Never Been Able to Sing
2020.10.05: Kaneko, W. ToddThis Is How the Bone Sings
2020.10.06: Coolidge, Sarah (ed.) – Home: New Arabic Poetry
2020.10.07: Cooper, WynChaos Is the New Calm
2020.10.08: ortiz, mónica teresaautobiography of a semiromantic anarchist
2020.10.09: Brace, KristinThe Farthest Dreaming Hill
2020.10.10: de Alba, Cassandrahabitats
2020.10.11: Le Guin, UrsulaWild Angels
2020.10.12: Matthews, Airea D.Simulacra
2020.10.12: Meltzer, DavidSan Francisco Beat: Talking With the Poets
2020.10.13: Rogal, LisaFeed Me Weird Things
2020.10.14: Amezcua, EloisaOn Not Screaming
2020.10.15: Stafford, WilliamMy Name is William Tell
2020.10.16: Stack, GarrettYeoman’s Work
2020.10.17: Brandt, EmilySleeptalk or Not At All
2020.10.18: Olszewska, DanielaAnswering Machine
2020.10.18: Sizemore, JasonFor Exposure
2020.10.19: Marinovich, FilipWolfman Librarian
2020.10.20: Harris, JosephLogically Thinking
2020.10.21: Harrison, JimCollected Ghazals
2020.10.22: Bettis, ChristineBurnout Paradise
2020.10.23: Gleason, RachelNew Kind of Rebellion
2020.10.24: Khayyam, OmarThe Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
2020.10.25: Cáceres, OmarDefense of the Idol
2020.10.26: Chang, KristinPast Lives, Future Bodies
2020.10.27: Goff, NicholeAluminum Necropolis
2020.10.28: Gurton-Wachter, AnnaBlank Blank Blues
2020.10.29: Porter, BillRoad to Heaven
2020.10.29: Burns, MeganSleepwalk With Me
2020.10.30: Trier-Walker, Amy JoTrembling Ourselves Into Trees
2020.10.31: Harrison, JimLetters to Yesenin

2020.11.10: Gevers, Nick (ed.) – The Book of Dreams
2020.11.15: Palmatier, Joshua (ed.) Apocalyptic
2020.11.25: Wendig, ChuckDamn Fine Story
2020.11.28: Vance, JackThe Kragen

2020.12.02 – de Bodard, AlietteOn a Red Station, Drifting
2020.12.04 – Baker, KageRude Mechanicals
2020.12.06 – Desmond, MatthewEvicted
2020.12.06 – Armstrong, Kelley Lost Souls
2020.12.16 – Bear, ElizabethBook of Iron
2020.12.17 – Bear, Elizabeth – Ad Eternum
2020.12.19 – Grant, MiraFinal Girls
2020.12.25 – Steffen, David (ed.) – The Long List Anthology, volume 6
2020.12.28 – Kittredge, CaitlinThe Curse of Four

Re-centering Poetry

One of the advantages, if you can call it that, of working at home in the Days of COVID is that I can see the day-to-day progression of the diminishing daylight as we move from the autumnal equinox to the winter solstice. When I close down my laptop at the end of my shift the sun is just a little closer to the horizon, the light a little more golden – or red, depending on the drift of smoke from the west coast. And each day it is just a little more difficult to pull myself from bed early enough in the morning to complete my morning routine.

Two things are helping keep me on my game as winter approaches: Poe, who still insists on being fed at 5:00 every morning, and a large stack of poetry books and chapbooks to read through as part of the Sealey Challenge. I am managing to stay on schedule, mostly thanks to a large pile of unread chapbooks which have arrived over the past four years as part of my subscriptions to Horse Less Press (currently on indefinite hiatus) and Ugly Duckling Presse, which is still going strong though I had to let my subscription lapse for financial reasons. I note that traditionally the Sealey Challenge has run during the month of August, so next year I will align myself with the rest of the poetry universe and complete the challenge in the appropriate month.

An excellent pile of books arrived this week at the Library of Winkelman Abbey. On the top left is a new one from Subterranean PressEdited By, a collection of stories which have been edited by Ellen Datlow. The collection itself is, well, edited by Ellen Datlow. So there’s a lot of meta going on with this one.

In the top middle is Francesco Verso‘s Nexhuman, the latest delivery from Apex Book Company, to which I have a subscription through Patreon. Editor Jason Sizemore was kind enough to reach out to me when the original print run for this shipment ran a few short and he allowed me to pick any title from the Apex catalog. This was my first choice, and it was fortunate they had copies in stock, as I am slowly picking up every book Apex has published, thanks to Patreon, Kickstarter, and purchases at various ConFusions over the past several years.

On the top right is Road to HeavenBill Porter‘s beautiful travelogue/story of wandering the mountains of China looking for the Buddhist and Taoist hermits who maintain a tradition once much revered in Chinese culture.

Bottom left is The Collected Ghazals by the late, great Jim Harrison. Copper Canyon Press recently released this collection, as well as the book in the bottom center, Letters to Yesenin. I have been a fan of Jim Harrison since a college professor turned me on to him back in 1993, when he picked up a copy of Wolf. Since then I have read almost everything Harrison wrote, and have bookshelf dedicated to his poetry and prose.

On the bottom right is the new collection from Garrett Stack, Yeoman’s Work. I first heard of Stack when we published a few of his poems in an issue of The 3288 Review. This is an excellent collection, and well worth seeking out.

In reading news, I have so far read 18 poetry books and chapbooks, and am keeping a running tally of the list up on Instagram and Twitter. I haven’t taken a deep dive into poetry like this since the late 1990s, unless you count the thousands a year I read as editor of The 3288 Review, which is not really the same thing. The Sealey Challenge has been a wonderful experience and with 13 more books to read my mind will be in a wonderful place when NaNoWriMo starts on November 1.

I just finished reading For Exposure, Jason Sizemore’s brilliant history of Apex Publications, with contributions by half a dozen or so of the editors and other contributors, employees and supporters of his wonderful company. I picked up For Exposure at ConFusion back in, I think, 2015, when I managed to spend a few minutes talking to Sizemore about the trials and tribulations of running a small independent publishing company. He is a Righteous Dude, as the kids say these days, and I offer all the kudoes to him and his team for the work they do in the literary world.

Writing hasn’t been going as well as reading, though I managed to put down a couple hundred more words in the book as I try to work through this one lynchpin chapter and scene, from which the rest of the book will flow, which tells me I may need to just mash my fact against the keyboard until something clicks and I can move ahead. The goal is still to complete a first draft this year, and with luck even complete the draft during NaNoWriMo, though I am having more and more concrete thoughts about a series of short stories which might eventually become chapters in a new book. All I know is that I will spend a lot of time writing in November 2020, assuming the slings and arrows of the mundane world allow me the mental space and emotional clarity to do so.

The Turning of the Seasons

Books accrued in the week of August 30, 2020

Oh, what a week that was. At work I have been taking Udemy classes with an eye toward getting certified as an AWS Developer Associate. I already know half of what I need to, but the other half is dense and complicated and the course is 30 hours long and though the teacher has a wonderful French accent I could feel my brain slowly turning to mush.

The transition between August and September brings a fine haul of reading material to the Library of Winkelman Abbey. On the top left is The Tyrant Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson, the final book in the Masquerade Trilogy. The first two were very good and more than a little disturbing, so I have high hopes for this one.

Top middle is Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, which I have been aware of for some time but have not had the bandwidth to dive into.

Top right is the new issue of The Paris Review, the subscription to which I keep as much for the interviews as for the writing itself.

Bottom left is Great Demon Kings, John Giorno’s memoir which came out a few weeks ago. Giorno finished the book a week before he died, in October 2019.

Bottom middle is Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, which I have been meaning to pick up for a long time. I am adding it to my TBR pile, near the top, once I finish the current two nonfiction books in which I am currently immersed.

Bottom right is the latest issue of the superb Boston Review, which becomes more and more relevant with every issue.

In reading news, I just finished Jesmyn Ward’s beautiful and heartbreaking novel Sing, Unburied, Sing. This one will, I think, stick with me for a long time.

I am in the middle of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, and every page makes me angrier than the previous. Sadism is, in fact, the American national pastime. I am also still progressing through the anthology Captivating Technology, which is a good companion to The New Jim Crow in that it shows the many ways modern technology extends the carceral state into everyday life beyond the walls of prisons and courtrooms.

In writing, I am 16,000 words into my novel, and hope to hit 40,000 by the end of September, which will put me in a good place to hit 80,000 and hopefully the end of the first draft by the end of October, at which point I will surely be ready to write something completely different for National Novel Writing Month in November.

I haven’t written 16,000 words of any single work of anything outside of NaNoWriMo. It feels good to finally be in a place where writing is part of my daily routine, after many years of having my creative energy devoted to other peoples’ work.

As it turns out, writing takes a lot of mental and emotional energy.

Will No One Rid Me of This Turbulent Year?

I imagine I am not the only person making that request of the universe. Though I have managed to keep myself gainfully employed through the first six months of the Plague Time I am doing my best to not take it for granted that I will still have a job come the end of the year.

To that end I continue to accumulate books against the day I find myself with a sudden abundance of free time, though on balance I would rather have a steady income, as I am in my fifties and the tech world is unkind to programmers who are not willing to work nights, weekends and holidays. And that is me. Been there, done that, not willing to do it again.

Speaking of accumulated books, the past week brought in three new volumes to the Library at Winkelman Abbey. On the left is the new issue of Reckoning, the journal of Creative Writing on Environmental Justice. The wise and wonderful Michael J.  DeLuca, who I met at the ConFusion Science Fiction Convention several years ago, is one of the founders of Reckoning, and it was he who introduced me to this excellent little magazine.

In the middle is the novel That Time of Year by Marie Ndiaye, and on the right is Home, a collection of Arabic poetry in translation, both published by Two Lines Press, a project of the Center for the Art of Translation. I keep forgetting which subscriptions I have cancelled and which are still active, so it is always a pleasant surprise when a new package shows up on my porch.

In reading news, this past week I finished The Orc King and The Pirate King, both by R.A. Salvatore, part of his long-running adventures of Drizzt Do’Urden the Drow Elf Ranger. Of the 35 books I have read in this calendar year, 18 have been books from this series, and I think I am done with the adventures of Mr. Do’Urden and company for the rest of 2020. Plus, they clash with the other books I am working my way through – The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and The Making of the Indebted Man by Maurizio Lazzarito. Though the fantasy novels are fine adventures and excellent entertainment, they are very much escapist and I can’t deny a certain feeling of fiddling while the country burns when I can be educating myself about the state of the world, and the past states which got us to this state.

In writing news, I am a little over 5,000 words into my new novel. That puts me squarely in the middle of chapter 4, and just above the lower limit of progress I set for myself for the rest of the year. 5,000 words a week, minimum, until the first draft is done. In theory this is a piece of cake, as during National Novel Writing Month I occasional turned out more than 10,000 words in a day. I think my record was 18,000 in an unbroken 9 hour stint. Of course I was single at the time, and in a position where I could take a sick day when the muse struck.

I was stuck in the third draft of chapter 1 when I watched the Wizards, Warriors and Words podcast, which includes as one of its panelists Mr. Dyrk Ashton, whose books have graced these pages several times in the past. I met Dyrk at ConFusion a few years ago, and for each of us it was the first time we had met someone in real life who we had first connected with on Twitter. It was from Dyrk I learned of this podcast, and it was from his paraphrased advice from Stephen King that I made it through my writer’s block. The advice was, roughly, “You don’t need to know how the book will end when you start writing it.” So I finished the chapter and if I need to go back and rewrite it to accommodate a change in the story 50,000 words from now, so be it. I expect this book to be between 80,000 and 100,000 words when the first draft is complete.

Speaking of ConFusion – ConFusion Science Fiction Convention has been cancelled for 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the board of ConFusion felt that it was in everyone’s best interests to table ConFusion 47 until 2022. This was a difficult decision, and the decision-makers have my sympathies for what must have been many sleepless nights arriving at this conclusion.

On the bright side, that gives me an extra year to write and hopefully get something published, assuming the world hasn’t fallen further into chaos and fascism by January 2022, and such things as creativity, optimism and hope are still allowed.

It is Ended, Redux

The crazy project I have been on since early April, which ended at the end of July, then started again, has just ended again. For the first time since there was still snow on the ground, I am back on a regular first-shift schedule. And as soon as I am attached to a new project I will be writing code instead of assembly-line financial paperwork.

On the left in the above photo is the latest book from my subscription to Apex Publishing Company, Close Your Eyes by Paul Jessup. I have heard good things about Jessup and look forward to diving into this one. On the right is an impulse buy, of sorts, from a recently completed Kickstarter by Nord Games. The title is The Ultimate Bestiary: The Dreaded Accursed, which get my vote for the most on-point title of any book I have picked up in the last year. It is a third-party sourcebook for 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons, one of a great many which have found success on Kickstarter. This is a high-quality product, with beautiful illustrations throughout.

In reading news, I just finished R.A. Salvatore’s The Silent Blade and The Spine of the World, and now I think I will take a break from the Forgotten Realms books and maybe read some poetry.

In writing news, today I wrote the first 650 words of the first chapter of my new book. Not a lot, to be sure, but this is the third time I have started the first chapter and this time I hit the groove, so I expect to hit a stride of 1,000+ words a day starting maybe tomorrow. Maybe

This is a photo of my new pen. The fountain pen my girlfriend bought me two years ago has sprung a small leak. One of the seals around the nib has apparently decayed. And with a fountain pen a small leak makes a big mess. This new pen is a ballpoint from Cloth & Paper, from a gift-box subscription to CrateJoy. Specifically, this is the M&G AGPH 9902 0.5mm pen. It writes like a dream.

Have I mentioned that my girlfriend is The BEST?

Noticeably Shorter

The days, that is. I am in my fifties now, so I may be as well, if only as measured by the most delicate and expensive of medical instruments. Poe consistently wakes me up at 5:00 am, which is only a little before my alarm goes off and once she wakes me up I never really get back to sleep again, so why not enjoy the extra half-hour of stillness as the world wakes up around me?

This past week saw three new additions to the Library of Winkelman Abbey, but what this stack lacks in height it more than makes up for in importance.

On the left of the above photo is an inscribed copy of Singing the Land: A Rural Chronology by Iowa writer Chila Woychik. I became acquainted with Chila when Caffeinated Press published a couple of her lyric essays in The 3288 Review, thereby greatly expanding my awareness of the world of creative nonfiction. I had the great honor of reading a draft of Singing the Land last summer when Chila approached me for a cover blurb, which was a first for me. And Singing the Land is wonderful! Chila has a fine sense for tone and cadence, and to read her work is sheer joy.

In the middle is the latest issue of Salvage, the leftiest of leftist literature I read regularly. The articles herein are dense and intelligent and thought-provoking, which is to say also angering a fair amount of the time, as is most leftist literature these days, as the global cultural center continues to scream rightward. We are well into neofeudalism/neofascism at this point, wearing late-stage capitalism as a flag of convenience. Note that Salvage is genuinely leftist, not the milquetoast American version of “the left” which by any rational measure would be called “right-wing authoritarian”.

(One of these days, when I have finally given my last fuck about employment-based stability in my life, I will write some blog posts about the specifics and details of my political sensibilities. Or I could write about them now and hasten the process.)

On the right is an ARC of Dyrk Ashton’s Paternus: War of Gods, the final book in the Paternus trilogy. I picked up a copy of the official release a couple of weeks ago. This volume is a Kickstarter reward and is (w00t!) inscribed by Dyrk, and is therefore a much-appreciated addition the the library.

In reading news, I am still buried in R.A. Salvatore’s Forgotten Realms novels as comfort and wind-down reading in the few quiet moments of my days. I finished Passage to Dawn a few days ago and am now several chapters into The Silent Blade. I expect to finish it by the end of July, at which point I will pivot back to more literary fiction, as spending too much time in someone else’s world makes it difficult to create a world of my own.

I am still working through Captivating Technology, and becoming continually more disgusted by the purposefully sadistic confluence of corporate capitalism and carceral practices described therein. I mean, it’s nothing new, but the fractal nature of the profit-based cruelties and cruelty-based profits described here leave me feeling more than a little guillotiney.

And finally, I am slowly working my way into Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. which has been on my to-read list for well over a year. I am only in the first chapter but I can see that this will be one of the best books I read this year. Or maybe this decade.

Now that I am back on a regular sleep schedule I think I am ready to begin writing the novel again. I will likely shelve the work I have already done, which is two partial versions of chapter 1, and start over this upcoming Monday morning, which is the first Monday in August. My initial goal will be a minimum 5,000 words a week, which will get me to 80,000 words sometime in November, and will also allow me a NaNoWriMo boost if I need it in order to finish the book and maybe work on some supplemental material.

It Has Re-Begun

As the quote goes, just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. The project from hell has returned for one more round. This time I will be on first shift, Monday through Friday, so I have my life back, if not my sanity. More important, I have my mornings back, when I can relax and have ample quiet time to read and write, plus or minus the attentions of one small orange cat.

On the left of the above photo is the new issue of the ever-superb Rain Taxi. In the middle is the anthology Where the Veil is Thin, a Kickstarter reward from a campaign run by Outland Entertainment. On the right is the anthology Hath No Fury, which is an add-on reward for that Kickstarter.

In reading news I just finished Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike. It was great! A wonderfully-written satire which would fit comfortably on a shelf with the Discworld novels or Terry Pratchett or the Myth Adventures by Robert Lynn Asprin. Between this and the previous read, The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang, I am completely sold on the quality and readability of the finalists and winners of the Self Published Fantasy Blog-Off. I just grabbed the e-book of the 2017 winner, Where Loyalties Lie by Rob J. Hayes. I expect it will be every bit as good as the previous reads.

I still plan to start the real work of my own book this week, though with recent events, both work and otherwise, I am completely burned out and brain-dead, so I doubt I will make much progress. I have two weeks off after this week, so that should get me somewhat back on track though times being what they are, any such predictions are necessarily fragile.

 

It Is Done

At long last, after ten weeks of second and third shift work, fifty hours a week, the project from hell is done. I got out of bed around noon today after shutting down my workstation at 11:00 last night. I don’t remember the last time I was this tired, or burned out, or otherwise completely done with the world. Early February 2013 maybe, or mid-May 2009. Something like that. The difference here is that, other than the crazy work hours, it was not a negative or traumatic experience; simply a lot of work across a lot of hours at a time of day when I am usually asleep.

In the last ten weeks I have lost around 10 pounds, most of that muscle mass as far as I can tell, from the complete disruption of my workout schedule as well as the lack of sleep, which is now well into the territory where if it were being inflicted upon me by a government agency it would count as cruel and unusual punishment. Since it is instead being inflicted upon me by capitalism it is considered being a good employee and contributing member of the team.

The part of my life I have missed most, and which I most look forward to, is waking up before the dawn, after a good night of sleep, and practicing tai chi on the front porch, then relaxing with a cup or two of coffee and reading and writing as the world wakes up around me. Three hours of quiet time before work is the bare minimum to keep my head on straight, and I have not had that since there was still snow on the ground.

So here we are in the last full week of spring, as the days are just about as long as they will get before the night starts creeping in again, and now I get to start enjoying the warm weather.

Being well-rested and healthy will also certainly be of benefit to my relationship in any number of ways, not the least of which will be that when Z proposes that we do anything at all, I will feel something other than depressed and tired at the idea of having one more goddamn thing to think about. I look forward to looking forward to things again.

Only one shipment of books this week, from Zombies Need Brains LLC, a small indie publisher which runs an annual Kickstarter where they fund and call for submissions for a trio of anthologies of varying themes. This is the second of their Kickstarters I have funded. I submitted a story to the previous round of books, and though it was not accepted for publication they sent an encouraging rejection letter. So I will try again, if and as as I have time to write.

Speaking of writing, I have a steadily growing pile of handwritten notes for the book I plan to write this summer. The plot is coming together, as well as a couple of the primary characters – protagonist and antagonist. I like the feel of it – secondary-ish world fantasy, post apocalyptic; though with enough history in the world, everywhere and everything is post- some apocalypse or other. Or mid-, or even pre-apocalypse. Kind of like right now here in the real world.

In reading I am partway through Derek Künsken‘s book The Quantum Magician, and really liking it so far! I met Künsken at ConFusion a few years back, and his book has been gathering dust on my shelves until last week. Like the other small press and self-published books I have read this year, it is really good! I look forward to snagging the sequel sometime later this year.

Now off to get caught up with the world, which seems to have moved on without me over these past two and a half months.

Maybe I’ll Build a Fort With My Books

Briefly – Top left is the latest issue of Jacobin magazine, the contents of which are more and more necessary every day as Trump-instigated and Trump-led fascism comes to increasingly dominate the national discourse. Next to it is Indigo by Ellen Bass, from a Kickstarter run by the extraordinary Copper Canyon Press. Third is the newest issues of Poetry magazine, which includes a poem by local poet and professor Todd Kaneko. And on the right is The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang, which I finished reading a little over a week ago. I ordered a copy of the paperback when I was about a third of the way through the e-book, as I wanted a physical copy should I ever attend a signing. It is just that good!

In writing news I am still gathering notes, research ans musings for the book I hope to begin when my hellish project at work ends in three weeks. In reading news I am a couple of chapters into Mike Shel’s self-published novel Aching God, which was a finalist for the 2018 SPFBO awards.

Some crazy shit went down here in Grand Rapids over the past couple of days, and seems set to continue for some time yet. The national guard has arrived and in addition to the quarantine/lockdown we are also under a 7 pm to 5 am curfew until Wednesday. I will create a separate post about everything so as to not mix and dilute narratives with my day-to-day life.