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I went to Chinatown yesterday, and had lunch with Susannah. But I found that the Ripped Bodice, which I had planned on going to after the temple to kill my afternoon, is closed on Mondays, and I'm not sure why I hadn't thought to check. So I went to the Chinatown public library instead to write. I took a 5pm train home, and had dinner with My.

I tried to swim, but some rowdy kids were in the pool taking up most of the length, so I had to swim the width of it. I dive when I first push off to the ground, and push myself up from there, and I guess it's the equivalent of doing push-ups underwater? Anyway I did it so much that some muscles in my arms felt tired in a way I never felt before. It was not very satisfying to swim such short laps, though.

Today I went to campus in the morning to do some website work only to find that there's a new website manager so I didn't even have to do anything. I came home and read.

I got through Charles De Lint's Promises to Keep and I finally read the PJ Confidential anthology. The de Lint book was okay, not the kind of book I'd pick up normally, had its moments. The PJ book, though, was atrocious. I think I liked only four stories in it, and out of those only one of them I could definitively say was well-written. The rest were middling or just too short to do their material justice. So, meh.

I swam around 6pm, after the sun had started to set, so that saved me from having to put on sunscreen. Tomorrow I'll try to read some more. I also have a psychiatrist appointment which I'm pretty excited about.
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So, I did go swimming this afternoon. I've promised myself I'll swim every day this week because of the HEAT WAVE WHICH IS SO UNREASONABLE. I tried using the swimcap, and I thought I had it on right (and I tied a ponytail too, to help it) but it popped off during a lap early on, so I was like, fuck it, and left my ponytail floating free. It was hella dry after, but I conditioned it, so it's better now. (Didn't shampoo. My first time doing this.)

I read two things today: a queer witch anthology and a short-ish novel. I'm also trying to make my way through Rainbow Islands. I'll try to finish it tomorrow on the train.

Tomorrow I'm going to LA Chinatown to escape the heat and put some food out for hungry ghosts. I might return next week for the actual single-day festival... I'll try and see if I can find someone who speaks English and can tell me whether they're doing anything. Then I'll take the Metro trains out to Culver City and go to the romance novel shop, which is apparently really close to the train stop!! Fingers crossed that I'll find it, and get back in time for a later train. (I usually take the first train out of Union Station, so this will be new.)

It's about an hour to and from Culver City each way so I'm kind of nervous about that. I've never tried taking the Metro so far before--I've definitely taken the bus pretty far. I feel a bit silly that I've never done this. But there's a first time for everything!
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YL loaned to me her copy of Renditions, a Chinese-to-English translation journal; it's the special double-issue of translated Chinese SFF. It's got "The Poetry Cloud" by Liu Cixin", lots of older writers, some newer writers, a really cool mix. Besides "The Poetry Cloud" I also really liked "1923--A Shanghai Fantasy" because a) Shanghai and b) character obviously based on Brigitte Lin's Peking Opera Blues character, who was one of my first girlcrushes and tomboy ideals. It's about the nature of memory and dreams, and trying to capture them during a time when political stride means no one really cares about that. It also has a rumination on the nature of being a woman doing the work of revolution, and how the two kinds of work cancel each other out during a time when no one is allowed to be both. It's also a hella cool Chinese dieselpunk story :D

Maybe it's the way the translation works, but there's something I recognized in the stories, in terms of storytelling style, narratival frames and priorities. It makes me think about the first criticism I got of "Between Islands," that it was hard to get into Johari's head (which was kind of confusing because Johari is, after all, not the only character; the story unfolds through the head-hopping of the ensemble cast, but not focused on one character in particular). And also about voice, and reader. These are voices that, despite being from a different language in translation, that I felt an actual kinship to, for the first time. Is this what white people feel when they read white fantasy? And it looks like most of these writers are men, so what about Chinese women writers in translation?

The only other time I've felt like this was reading Laurie Tom's "Even The Mountains Are Not Forever" and I thought, oh, it's because Laurie's my friend and we've spoken about this difficulty before! Of course I would recognize something of voice and storytelling style in it. Now I'm not so sure. So this makes me even more excited to pick up THREE BODY PROBLEM (although YL says that Ken changed the genders of a few characters, reassigning them to make it more palatable to the Western audience).
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So I had two wisdom teeth removed yesterday, and they're supposedly healing just fine today. I went in for 4.30, the doctor had me do an X-Ray which seemed quite a fuss, then extracted the top one, but spent some time on the bottom one.

The teeth had been chomping on the inside of my cheek a lot lately, with really painful results. I'd gone to a different dentist on Monday for some cleaning, and was told about needing surgery. I'd also booked an appointment with the first dentist for August 5 and was told they'd call if something opened up, and lo, something did, the next day.

There's still some swelling, but the sutures are holding and I seem to be fine. We had a blackout yesterday too, and I think I'm running a slight fever from that.

I got really mad though, because my dad made Nyonya inchi kabin last night and I couldn't eat it >:{ I couldn't eat all night! And I won't be able to eat much for the next few days. I'm going to bug someone to take me out for ice cream.

That said, I did get to read IBAN JOURNEY (which is actually a sequel to a previous book called IBAN DREAM) by a local writer. It has proofreading issues, a lot of very awkward language. Quite a bit of repetitiveness and wording that doesn't have to be there, so the editor did a really poor job, and these are micro issues.

There's a great deal of detail, mostly going in so that you understand this is an IBAN STORY about IBAN PEOPLE and look at all these IBAN THINGS THAT IBAN FOLK DO. Structurally, it resembles more of an origin myth, and is probably better suited as an oral performance than a written novel. The long drawn-out details aren't really terrible; it's a plus or a minus depending on what you're expecting out of a novel that's supposed to take you into a world that's rarely written about in fantasy--at the same time, it doesn't have the feel of a genre novel, more of a literary feel, and even so, like I said, the awkward language really takes away from it. There're a lot of words which feel too clinical for the story ("banana inflouresence"? do we call it that in regular language? IDK), which really jar me out of the story.

The character motivations are very simplistic, and clearly we're dealing with archetypes--so, great as an origin myth, not so great as an actual story. There are just some things which I know are supposed to be based on myth, but make no sense even within the setting. For example, apparently the protagonist was supposed to Do An Important Thing and he wasted time not Doing The Thing, and gets scolded by a spirit-god for it. But... there're no clues that he was supposed to Do Said Thing (he gets the Thing he Was Supposed To Get by sheer luck). So it's unclear to me, as the reader, why I'm supposed to think that the protagonist was making stupid decisions, when he was making perfectly fine decisions with all the integrity he can muster at the time.

The denouement was also not very satisfying--a bit too reliant on ex machina, so to speak, which allows Our Hero to live the rest of his life without complication. It kind of bugs me that it's quite unsatisfying because halfway through the novel, it changes premise from "plucky cursed hero sets off to find his place in the world" to "group of variously cursed people decide to start a community together", which is the sort of thing I like to see! But there's something about the structure of the novel that makes it feel too pat.

I can see why this is being lauded as a "unique novel" because of the Iban angle, and it certainly is a clunky first try at introducing lesser-seen cultural elements into a genre that isn't used to it. However, there is a definite lack of craft overall.


May. 5th, 2015 10:37 pm
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- Dr. Shapiro passed away earlier this year, and as good hoarders go, had a library collection of SIX. THOUSAND. BOOKS. In English, French, German, Spanish, Italian. Half of them have already gone to private collections and libraries, but the other half is still looking for a home, so tonight I went over with a prof and another grad student to go through her books.


Of course, she had a wide array in her fields (French, so lots of French history, literature). But she also had a whole host of other things?? Like there was a whole box on religion, and a whole box of Greek classics, a half-shelf of cookbooks (which, in retrospect, I should have claimed, because I know so many people who cook). LOTS of feminist theory. Oddly a bunch of anthropology and sociology books. There's a novel set in Thailand?! Bunch of Dada books, bunch of film books, lots of art books. I have a beautiful copy of The Arcades Project by Walter Benjamin, harcover, English translation. She also had some Asian-American anthologies (like The Big Aiiieeeee! and if you want this one you can have it). I have four books in The Fontana Economic History of Europe which I'm going to read through for my dissertation.

I picked out three boxes of books and could only bring home one box because I was sharing a car. This haul includes:
- Out of Place by Edward Said
- Borderlands by Gloria Anzaldua
- A Question of Power by Bessie Head
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- The Philosopher in the Kitchen by Brillat-Savarin (and once I'm done with this I'll pass it off to the prof who got me to the place, because she does French and food studies and was excited about it; I was surprised she'd never heard of it!)
- bunch of books on visual arts and theory
- something something postmodern feminism
- a collection of those photo slides? I don't remember what they're called anymore. One of those things you plugged into a projector.

Uhm. Look. There's a lot. Basically, if you want some free books, leave me a comment about generally which field you'd like books in and I'll look. Her friend is boxing up books and moving them out on Thursday night, and I plan on heading out on Friday, hopefully with someone who has a car, to pick through the rest of the books.

Currently I have a couple of books that I don't think I actually want and can part with:
- Angry Women (this one: http://www.amazon.com/Angry-Women-Andrea-Juno/dp/1890451053 I picked it out because there're interviews with bell hooks and Susie Bright)
- This is The Beat Generation, James Campbell (http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520230330)
- The Big Aiiieeeee, eds Frank Chin & others (http://www.amazon.com/The-Big-Aiiieeeee-Frank-Chin/dp/0452010764)

Pretty sure I have more in that other box. I'll post here when I get them back home.

- I was totally going to finish the pinafore this first half of the week and was stymied by the lack of a zipper! And of course this is after the Daffodil Dash so my coupons don't work anymore. I realized I really ought to get some supplies for WisCon too!

- Been working on the ppt review for the course I'm TA'ing. Finally hitting the bits on Greek theatre. Still trying to figure out whether I'm going to upload this or not--a huge part of me doesn't want to because I know some of the students are just going to crib off the words and not actually study. Another part of me thinks they'll probably piss themselves if they can't access the notes. I'll ask the prof tomorrow and see what she thinks, and show her what I've got so far too.
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So... this was my first ever book signing, as in, I had a table and all. Rubato came to get me around 11.45 and we got there around 1-ish, in pretty good time. I'd never been to Clockwork Couture before so this was a pretty great chance, and I hadn't hung out with Rubato in a while. I had copies of STEAMPUNK WORLD and MOTHERSHIP.

I sold 3 copies of SPW and 1 copy of Mothership. A grad school friend came out to see me even! Another grad school friend came to get me home. I felt loved.

I still have a bunch of books left... wondering if I should try to sell to school mates and then send the rest back to the publishers or what. Hrm, decisions decisions... I don't really know what the protocol is!

I wish I had taken up Bryan Worra's offer to get a folding table when I had the chance. He bought a really great little camping table that would have been perfect for the occasion (and other occasions since we ate at it). I haven't really been able to find it since. Anyway, things I was missing at the signing:
- table
- tablecloth (luckily Dru had one extra)
- something decorative
- credit card square (luckily rubato had a program on her phone for credit cards, otherwise I might not have sold anything at all!)
- pens (because man I am not very clever)

It was an interesting experience and I think it confirmed for me that when people think steampunk they're not really interested in reading material unless it's also in a visual medium. Especially short stories! I may have done better in a general bookstore, except of course this venue was a lot more cooler!

Maurisa and I talked writing on the way home, and continued over dinner.

Tomorrow I really want to go to JoAnn's to take advantage of the coupon I have, get some embroidery threads. Maybe more mint-green thread. And I'm gonna harvest my worm castings tomorrow! See how much they've produced anyway.
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- Spot quiz today

- Practically ran off afterwards to Dr. Vint's class where Sabrina Vourvoulias and Fabio Fernandes were skyping in, which was quite exciting. I live-tweeted the thing and Storified it.

- PK and I went to lunch afterwards and worked on ICFA abstracts. We then went to Coffee Bean to continue.

- AP called at some point wondering if I had time to go shopping with her for Halloween stuff. But alas, she called when PK and I were working on abstracts.

I have a draft abstract which I think is okay. Tomorrow I'll put together a bib because bibs are mandatory for ICFA proposals which is kinda weird to me.

- I also accomplished a couple more paragraphs in my newest short story. Still haven't quite figured out how to segue into the main conflict.

- I feel really tired still, and heartache-y. It's getting annoying.

- I got my shipment of STEAMPUNK WORLD books!! I'm pretty sure the MOTHERSHIP books are in too. Gotta get them tomorrow.

- I also get to dogsit for HH tomorrow. so there's something.
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So. I just got an email from the prof I'm going to TA for. I'm staring at this syllabus and my eyes are straining at trying to focus from how white it is. I really need to not freak out, right? )
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Had a lovely day today. Went hiking with my dad and then we went to have breakfast.

Went to a nearby restaurant to have lunch with a Tumblr Friend, May, and my brother. Then we went to Jaya One to attend the arts fair and had a ton of fun browsing and meeting people! It was like going to a convention merch hall except it's all Malaysians. I bought a card game called Politiko, which is a satire on Malaysian politics. I also bought some really pretty art and some TAPIR-THEMED stuff!! I have a traveling tag with a tapir on it! Heehee.

May and I volunteered to read aloud some stuff for a booth on sexual harassment. I also met the director for Pusat KOMAS! They produce some really terrific films, lots of great documentaries on marginalized folks in Malaysia. And then I met a young fashion design whose final project for art school was a COOL steampunk mask/shrug laser-cut PVC piece! I stopped at his booth, asked him, "so tell me about this" and he was like "so... I like steampunk" and it was like "YES I KNOW STEAMPUNK I STUDY IT" and we were psyched about it for a few minutes and it was great.

Then we wandered looking at books for a while but nothing really grabbed us. I did stop at SIRD's table, and got a catalog! They're a book distributor, not just a publisher... I already feel great about this. I really want to go visit their bookstore, buy a ton of things. They published MULTIETHNIC MALAYSIA which I really enjoyed, and it seems they also publish a ton of other really neat things.

After that, we went to get some snackies, and ended up in a cafe that sold a soda called The Tapping Tapir. It was a very tapir-y day!

Then we wandered, and ended up having dinner in a little Japanese place. Wasn't the greatest, but it was nice just being able to hang out more.

Anyways, I have a ton of business cards and really regretted not having mine on me! Looking forward to emailing a bunch of people.
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- yesterday I baked a cake using the brown rice / white rice / tapioca flour / cornstarch mix I made. It tastes like tapioca, mostly. Which I don't know how to feel about. I think I'd like it better as a cookie.

- i made a sewing machine cover as well

- then I read David Eddings' Elenium for the first time ever. It is chockful of the usual racism and strange gender stereotypes. His usual cast of characters - the thief, the strange child, the sorceress, the "practical everyman" - were present. I don't care much for Sparhawk like I did for Garion, which might be on account of his age, but he's as old as Althalus and I think Althalus is more amusing. The Styricans as being less metropolitan but more civilized, in their own view, was really interesting, but it doesn't go very far since we only have one or two Styric characters. Of course there were some Laugh Out Loud lines and some philosophical passages. Also glad that his oeuvre includes marriages between immortal women and mortal men, partners of similar ages, because the Much Older Man + Aggressive Younger Woman thing kind of tweaks my nose a bit. They're easy books to read because of all that tho, very plot-driven. Definitely not the kind of stories I've been picking out for the SEAsteampunk antho at least XD
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Got up at 7.30am to get a bus downtown (I'm getting better at using a bus other than the #1 and #16) to fetch Karen to Special Collections. Dr. Conway had brought out a really cool selection: early editions of Utopia, City of the Sun (in their original Latin), Frankenstein (which had initially been published in three volumes), Dracula (with an awful lime-yellow colour), the Time Machine (which has a very large box but is a very tiny book actually!), and Flatland (the first edition AND the fancy accordion artbook which I am a huge fan of) (also one of Karen's top favourite books so I am glad I knew of it to suggest it to her). We had a most lovely marvelous chat with Dr. Conway about all sorts of things, so I'm really glad she had time! Every chance I get to show off the Eaton to a visitor, the only word I've got to encapsulate how I feed is "chuffed".

The Time Machine was also published contemporaneously with a bunch of other novels in a kind of series and I took down a list of them:
- The Green Carnation by R. Hitchens
- An Altar of Earth by Thymol Monk
- The New Moon by C. E. Raimond
- The Wings of Icarus by Laurence Alma Tadema
- Joanna Trail, Spinster by Annie E Holdsworth

I'm going to look them up because I don't know why they might be published as part of a series with the Time Machine.

Afterward Karen and I had a drink at Coffee Bean and hung out for a couple more hours just chatting. Then we bussed back downtown, and I felt it would be a good idea because 1) yay company and b) the bus routes are kind of weird (and she confirmed my suspicions expressing how she might have been anxious at the many twists and turns the bus was taking).

Karen is such a terrific person! Wonderful conversationalist and so many interesting things to say about Barbados and grad school and stuff. She also made a connection between Sun Boy in Cordwainer Smith's "Under Old Earth" and Sun Ra which I hadn't thought about, and the stories are kind of contemporaneous so there might be a possible connection there? I don't know the chronology of Smith's Instrumentality stories so I can't look it up but it looks like an interesting thing to investigate.

And now turns out [personal profile] starlady is also in town! So I get to hang out with cool people again! Yay! I am going to be so peopled out by the time summer is over.
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Is there a name for the trope where the main character has to have sex in order to save the world? Aside from all the fairytale endiings where Heterosexual Love's Kiss or some declaration of Heterosexual Love, Jay Lake's MAINSPRING ends in a Realization of Heterosexual Love and KW Jeter's INFERNAL DEVICES ends in, essentially, sex-to-save-the-world. I'm going to call them Acts of Aggressive Heterosexuality, but there must be a TVTrope about this already.

(Also Lake's GREEN ends in an Act of Aggressive Heterosexuality even though it's technically a homosexual act, because it's a lesbian-for-the-sake-of-the-Male-Gaze act therefore it is essentially an Act of Aggressive Sexuality.)

I mean really now.

I've also read NEWS FROM NOWHERE and LOOKING BACKWARD, both 19th century utopia novels. NEWS FROM NOWHERE has that silly "it was a dream!" trope and is awfully libertarian ("abolish government!") and was supposed to be a response to LOOKING BACKWARD which is, well, The Government Is A Corporation which is about centralized socialism growing out of capitalism but man, is that hella optimistic (and it also has an exceedingly silly romance subplot). Marge Piercey's WOMAN OUT OF TIME's utopia also has that odd libertarian feel and the idea that each village has its own culture which is adapted from specific regional culture is kind of... iffy to me. (Although I did laugh at the future sense of history in which Harriet Tubman delivers "Ain't I A Woman" before, uh, laying seige to the Potomac?) I also liked "per(son)" as a gender-neutral pronoun, but there still didn't seem to be a lot of queerness going on. Although it's better than Joanna Russ' THE FEMALE MAN which is hella binarist, I mean, father-mother two-parent family units in a future where there's pretty much just one gender?

I also got around to reading FLATLAND. It was cute, but kind of flat.

20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA was not, as I had hoped, about fighting kraken 20,000 leagues in the sea's depth, but more a 20,000 league tour of the world's oceans and a very long catalog of the fauna, geography, shipwrecks and one Canadian's kvetching about being trapped in a submarine. There are exactly three obvious anti-colonial sentiments expressed by Nemo in the whole of the book; the rest is pretty much him being a misanthrope and quitting civilization just because he can.

I'm going to read as much of SO LONG BEEN DREAMING now.
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- been reading up all weekend and I'm getting a much better idea of how I want to use my lists for my research now... I've been saying for some reason that all my lists have nothing to do with my research interests, and that's only half true... my Cultural Studies list is making me think through my project carefully. I had it set up to talk about nationhood and critical race theory, but really it's more "Cultural Studies genealogy and whiteness studies" and that's OK because my diss is going to be a semiotic reading of whiteness in steampunk material culture anyway.

My postcolonial theory list is helping me really think through why representation in SFF matters so much and giving me a lot of food for thought for future projects... we're reading Kristen Mandigma's "Letter from a Socialist-Realist Aswang" and when I introduce it tomorrow for the SF reading group, I think I will mention Benedict Anderson's Specter of Comparisons and how it's appropriately named after a sentiment Jose Rizal has about heightened national awareness coming from comparing against other nations.

My SFF list... well... it doesn't go... I don't have time to read (and it's mostly novels) and the non-fiction and just bleh. I might ask the professor if I can take off the non-fiction stuff, or at least not be tested on it. =/

- Went to see Captain America: TWS after Nalo's reading on Wednesday... I got a huge tickle out of the shot of Maria, Natasha, Sam and Steve walking into the secret bunker together. I only intellectually understand the feeeeeels I keep seeing about Bucky; MY heartbreak was when Peggy literally forgets that she and Steve had obviously been having a conversation. I don't even know if that's how Alzheimer's works??

- The practice questions my Cultural Studies prof gave me are hard tho! Well, maybe they won't be after I talk to her, but one of them deals with Asian cultural production and I'm just like uhmmmmmmmm because I have no idea how to answer that??

- I'm also behind on my reading for Dr. HM which I feel bad about seeing as I see him so regularly and he's always so free with his time for me. Sigh! But we have such good conversations.

- I flipped through a Fatima Busu anthology last night and one of the stories I decided to randomly read.... is a letter from a child to his/her mother and there's a whole thing about "dajal" infesting the village and I was like WHAT THE HELL IS A DAJAL and the online kamus tells me that it's a "one-eyed monster"?? Or some sort of omen for kiamat?? I'm going to ask Dr. HM what it means and if it means what the dictionary tells me, well, no one can tell me that's NOT a spec fic story!!! Neat. I'm also reading some stories at random from a book called Malaysian Short Stories, edited by Lloyd Fernandez.

- Part of my book booty today includes Syed Alatas' Myth of the Lazy Native and Shahnon Ahmad's political satire SHIT (y'all remember that one?) and FUCK YEAH ANGRY MALAYSIAN WRITERS

- man I really want to go to the ETST seminar tomorrow but urrgghhh I don't wanna do the reading.........

- I got out to the Kim Stanley Robinson reading tonight! It was nice. He said a lot of interesting, validating things. And he signed the book I bought just for today, and made it out to me and my brother! And of course I met someone who I share a mutual acquaintance with... two, in fact! And I got to meet the organizer of EagleCon, which is a thing happening in a couple of weeks that I really want to go to because SteamFUNK writer Balogun Ojetade will be there and I don't really want to miss seeing him!

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For quals, that is, and more to remind myself that I got quite a bit accomplished in a short amount of time and I should be able to do just as much in the next couple of weeks.


Benedict Anderson, The Spectre of Comparisons: Nationalism, Southeast Asia, and the World.
Started off slow and I thought it was gonna be more of what he wrote in Imagined Communities, but really much more engaging and as Dr. G said, more interesting. Covers a lot of regions: Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia. Some interesting observation on historical trajectories of radicalism and independence.

Elleke Boehmer. Stories of women: gender and narrative in the postcolonial nation.
Mostly about how postcolonial writers write about women as stand-in metaphors for the nation and national identity. I'm not crazy about it because there was a lot of close reading of things I never read before.

Ketu Katrak. Politics of the Female Body: Postcolonial Women Writers of the Third World.
More stuff I never read before, more gender stuff, lots of things that we already talk about as women writers ourselves, idk.

Gayatri Gopinath. Impossible Dreams: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures.
Was afraid this would be more of the same, but not really. Diasporas trouble the concept of national identity; queerness does the same on the gendered national body. If the nation is gendered according to patriarchal norms, then queerness creates a destabilizing frame with which to approach and trouble national identity. Kinda cool, eh?

Khoo Gaik Cheng. Reclaiming Adat: Contemporary Malaysian Film and Literature.
So, adat, a thing I don't really understand but anyway, Khoo argues that modern media allows for the recuperation of adat. Lots of focus on Tuah/Jebat binary, critique of ketuanan Melayu, and Malay cinema as Cinema of Denial with tensions between adat, Westernization and Arabization. Put this way, the feeling I get from local writers querying me about whether mythological creatures in their SEAsteampunk submissions makes sense; I'd been worrying about getting more "magical East vs. technological West" stories as if magic stuff is really all Asian writers have to offer to the SFF ouvre, but set in a context of reclaiming adat it kind of makes more sense. Still, would like to see a good mix of hard science steampunk alongside fantastic myth steampunk.

Achille Mbembe. On the Postcolony.
I did not so much read this as skim it; lots of big statements, sweeping theory, very grand, very Africa-specific, many big words I could not handle at this point in time.

Martin Barker. The New Racism: conservatives and the ideology of the tribe.
Less a theory about race than an examination of the rhetorics surrounding the many justifications of racism and xenophobia (this was written in 81). Really goes in deep talking about Hume and sociobiological stuff.

Amin Sweeny. A Full Hearing: Orality and literacy in the Malay world.
A look at how oral culture remains steeped even in the print culture of Malay storytelling. Not sure I buy the argument but it's pretty interesting!! I thought I could buy it especially when thinking about Twitterjaya but hrm, I just don't know.

Sulastrin Sutrisno. Hikayat Hang Tuah: Analisis Struktur & Fungsi.
The prof loaned me this book just to see how I'd react to it, and it was strange. Apparently it was a really big deal when it first came out! Because it was the first time anyone had ever thought to analyze Hang Tuah using structuralism. And I don't like structuralism. It's got diagrams and shit. Also a handy summary of the whole hikayat. Which was kind of strange. Lots of things I don't recognize from the usual Hang Tuah stories. Also a genre discussion because genre discussions never die.


Keris Mas. Jungle of Hope. English translation of Rimba Harapan by Adibah Amin.
I really liked it! It was slow, as most of these things are, but I really liked the ensemble cast. I've never been bothered by shallow head-hopping, especially when it's done to show how complex people are. It ends at the point of tension, but it's a long-term sort of novel which also hits my buttons.

Somerset Maugham. "The Force of Circumstance"
Racist white woman can't handle that her racist white husband had a Malay live-in mistress and three kids before she came along. It's too bad because they are so very in love. She might not even be racist but for constantly calling the Malay woman "black" and it was kind of jarring to see the N-word being used.

---. "Footprints in the Jungle."
Murder mystery! Telegraphed whodunit from page three!

---. "The Yellow Streak."
Yellow streak referring to the Malay blood in the main character who has some crazy white anxieties about being tainted by his mother's blood.

---. "The Outstation."
The classist snob versus the racist bully. Classist snob has principles informed by noblesse oblige adopted from his aristo friends; racist bully has a chip on his shoulder because he's a white dude born "in the colonies" so not as good as a ranking officer or whatever. The latter gets killed. He had it coming.

Fatima Busu. Salam Maria.
Posted about it earlier. I'm not crazy about it, but then I am not crazy about cardboard characters and special snowflake figures.
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in the fridge:
- cookie dough, this time with Crisco instead of butter. apparently this gives a famous amos like texture. I'm not holding my breath but hey, there will also be peanut butter chips mixed in with my usual chocolate chips
- ragout made with the leftover (failed) bak kut teh with lamb pieces. except this ragout is even thicker because it will be made into krokets! i've got to buy breadcrumbs but i'm very much looking forward to this.

- ranajit guha's dominance and hegemony
- arjun appadurai's modernity at large

working on:
- Cheah Pheng's Spectrality of Nations

also read:
- holocaust for hire which is a silly captain america novel that a prof gave away (along with a bunch of comics). it is from the 70s, has a grumpy but comedic white nick fury, an italian mafia, and some journalist couple who start of hating each other but end the story in love in the most contrived way possible. the red skull has got hold of some sonic gun technology and is using it to level cities and plans on using a satellite to annihilate the world, and of course captain america must stop him. what never fails to baffle me about these kinds of plots is how the scientists who develop the science who happen to be on the good guys' side never seem to think through the consequences of their work as they develop it. it's such an easy read, and it's a very slender book, so i think i finished it in an hour or so.

- when she woke by Hillary Jordan. it's a scifi retelling of the scarlet letter, a dystopia in which criminals undergo "melachroming" which means their skin is literally tinted to mark the severity of their crime, and since the main character committed the crime of murder as she had an abortion (it's also a super fundie setting) she is sentenced to be a "red". it's still a pretty fucking racist world but there's only a couple of characters of color. the structure of the book is pretty straightforward with its five-act, and thru it a transformation of the MC's romantic love for her lover that forestalls a happy ending together. there's a "feminist" group that gets women who have been melachromed red for abortion out of the states into Canada, and helps provides abortions. it's generally a very fast read but idk, while it's def a condemnation of christian fundamentalism, with an exploration of how even a loving family can bring a child up believing some fucked up shit that only leads to tragedy, i don't think it goes far enough and at the end of the day it's still about the main character trying to get rid of the stigma of being a Red. It doesn't match up with the interesting work that scarlet letter does, but then I read it when i was very young and from what i understood of it, hester subverts the stigma of the scarlet letter, appropriating it and making it an emblem not of "adultery" but of "absolution" and she lives her life.

- MISTERI ANAK JAGUNG which i gather is about an indonesian migrant living in someplace called "urbana, america" and about two chapters in i kind of got bored. i'm still planning on finishing it! it just will take longer than i expected
jhameia: ME! (Default)
Books I bought the other day on the B&N run with HH:

- Gail Carriger’s Blameless (because I lost my copy, re-reading to write fic with Chinese characters and my world did not feel right with a missing book in the series)
- Gail Carriger’s Etiquette and Espionage, book 1 of the Finishing School series (I’m not as taken with this series as I am with the Parasol Protectorate… I guess because I feel putting children in an environment where lying and two-facedness is just terrible, but I must make do until the Parasol Protectorate Abroad series comes out)
- Cherie Priest’s Fiddlehead (last book of the Clockwork Century series?! Sadface!)
- Helen Oyeyemi’s Mr. Fox (never read her before, might as well read some of her now)
- Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (because I ought to read some postcolonial literature sometime)
- Essential Arabic (gotta work on some vocabulary and not let that uni year go to waste)
- That comic book with shorts from ATLA. (I read Part 3 of The Search. Blech what they did with Ursa but at least they gave her a happy ending, and she apologized for abandoning Azula and Zuko. I guess.)

The Parasol Protectorate is always a pleasure to read, although I find I have less and less patience for Alexia Maccon and her interminable need to open her damn mouth every chance she gets instead of just listening and being smart about her questions. Same goes for Conall. But Ivy! And Lyall! And Biffy! I tried fancasting for them the other week, came up with:
Ivy: Amanda Seyfried
Lyall: David Tennant
Alessandro Tarabotti: Christopher Eccleston
Akeldama: Tom Hiddleston (Tom Cruise is no longer as effete as in his IWTV days sadly)
Channing Channing of the Chesterfield Channings: Fassbender
Biffy: Either Blair Dunlop or Ben Barnes
Countess Nadasdy: Julie Walters
Floote: Jean Reno

E&E is... already showing signs of disturbing the canon set in the PP books and that always makes me cranky. I guess I have very little patience for settings which are all cutesy on the surface ~dark brooding danger underneath~ but that might also be the YA standard which I can't deal with.

I considered buying more JR Ward Black Dagger Brotherhood books and then realized how much I didn't care given that I've already given away all my BDB when I left HALIFAX.

Cleaned my office today and then went to see Frozen followed by dinner at a Japanese resto with KK. It was a pretty decent movie. I kind of... don't like Elsa's SUDDEN REVELATION at the end about how to SUDDENLY control her powers? Like, really? It felt very ham-handed. Olaf was not as terrible as I feared and Kristoff could have been drawn Saami and that Hans thing, well, I could have done without it. Meh. Whatever. It was fun for a lark.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
I went shopping at MPH the other day and got a few books:

The Pacific Rim novelization, which is interesting insofar as Alex Irvine develops the kaiju-attacked 'verse a bit more. I find the wording in a couple of the military memos kind of awkward (I expect them to be clipped, and not filled with unnecessary words like "however"), plus he got Aleksis and Sasha wrong (plus never really develops them, which is disappointing). (Also, they did not run during Mako's first Drift. They strode away.) The inordinate focus on Newt versus Hermann was also kind of irritating. As much as I like Newt, I feel he needs to be counterbalanced by Hermann. Chuck doesn't become more likable but his relationship with his dad becomes more compelling. Stacker is awesome as expected. Mako's also underwritten. Oh well.

GERGASI from Buku Fixi by Khairul Nizam Khairani. It has to do with historical artifacts and stuff, something from the 16th century reappearing in modern times. The Buku Fixi twitter-admin rec'd this to me as something representative of their SF catalog.

HIJAB SANG PENCINTA from Alaf 21 by Ramlee Awang Murshid. I was admiring the cover and reading the copy when someone else exclaimed "YOU BACA INI??" and I was like "uh no, but I would like to! Is it good??" and we had a disjointed but interesting conversation about the series. Apparently the writer is Malaysia's no. 1 thriller novelist. Also, she pointed out to me something else: Alaf 21 has staff writers who have to churn out something new every three months, whereas Kaki Novel, on a different shelf, takes submissions. HIJAB SANG PENCINTA is actually maybe #3 in a series (the first book came out years ago) and I had difficulty deciding which book to get, but shamelessly, I picked the one with the sexiest cover. It also has to do with the 16th century and someone from the 16th century finding his way to the 21st century. I have a thing for stuff that has long-term arcs.

BINI AKU TOMBOY KE? from Kaki Novel, by Arisa Eriza is the last book I got! It's got a great cover: a high heel shoe that looks really sporty, topped with a baseball cap. It apparently seems to be about a girl who dresses really butch and two guys in love with her, one of whom is worried he might be gay because he falls for her, the other who is a "kasanova". I'm just really tickled because the main female character, who goes by Zack, may be hella genderqueer (girls have fallen for her). This might turn out to be a total homophobefest, but it might also turn out awesome. Either way, that cover is well worth it.

I won't have time to read any of them for a while, but I'll bring them along to California in case I do have time to sneak a read here and there. I'll let you know how they are.

Moar books

Jul. 8th, 2013 12:45 pm
jhameia: ME! (Default)
So I read Tanith Lee's "Space Is Just A Starry Night" which, compared to her fantasy short stories that I've read, are kind of cold and depressing. They are neat, of course, a lot of neat concepts, but I didn't care for most of the characters she wrote about, and I'm sort of not a fan of stories that run like "she led a boring terrible life, and THEN! Something Strange Occurs!" ("Felixity" and "Stalking the Leopard" are like that) (there's no real significance that I can tell from the random happenings aside from "these characters are desperately rich and boring"). I liked the very first story quite a bit, but idk, I wouldn't shed a tear for the lack of this anthology's existence.

I also read Ellen Oh's PROPHECY. It's about a yellow-eyed Demon Hunter who is reviled by everyone in her city because her uncle the King insists on keeping the public ignorant of the demon threat (so when possessed people go missing, they blame her, which is not untrue, but they don't know the full story either). There's a prophecy about how someone descended from the line will become The One who will unite the kingdoms against the Demon Lord. It's a Korean-inspired setting (the Demon Lord has possessed the daimyo of the Yamato kingdom across the sea) which I rather liked, but the writing lacked something for me. It was a page turner and I finished the book in about 3 hours, which doesn't happen unless there's just not a whole lot to mull over.

And maybe I am just not cut out for YA because I kept grimacing at the protagonist's reaction to just about EVERYTHING. IDK, I think a 17yo royal who's been hated all her life would sort of stop freaking out over certain shit and listen to her intuition more? I think there are some realistic things going on here, and I really like the fact that she doesn't have a dysfunctional relationship with most of her family but the whole "AaaaaH I can't be the Dragon Musado because that's supposed to be my royal cousin and I'm a girl!" There was a kind of love interest type, who was painted as a friend pretty much the whole time. Which isn't so bad if it didn't keep telegraphing in screechy tones "LOVE INTEREST LOVE INTEREST" but I'm not sure what Oh could have done to have kept it platonic although important. Their interaction was also quite jarring, compared to the interaction with her brothers and cousin--how do you switch to that kind of almost-mean teasing with someone you've only known a while when you don't even have that with your own brothers? I think that relationship could have been better built.

There's also generally a TOTAL DEARTH OF FEMALE CHARACTERS besides the characters. I appreciate that she has a good relationship with her mom, but her relationship with her aunt is strained. There are also the "angels"--spirit representatives of major regions across the world, who guide her and her cousin. But they identify her cousin as The One and then go up to Heaven (to "recharge", basically). That's it? No commoner character for her to talk to? No one to conspire with?

Anyways. Meh.


Jul. 5th, 2013 06:42 pm
jhameia: ME! (Default)
Finished two books this week, after reading Steaming Into A Victorian Future. I'll have to go to campus to search the library databases for some academic reviews so I have an idea what they look like since I have to review the antho. The two novels I read were Sofia Samatar's Stranger in Olondria and Mary Anne Mohanraj's The Stars Change.

I love Sofia Samatar's voice in A Stranger In Olondria, just as I love her poetry. She submitted to the Steampunk Shakespeare antho I edited which was also very beautiful but not quite what I was looking for. I love the world she's set up, and the main character character is infused with poetry. Someone else wrote in their review, I think it was [personal profile] starlady, that it really is a story about the love of reading, although I think the story shows how tyrannical people can be about texts at times. Jevick's quest to recover the body of someone he only met once is compelling to me, but I have many feels about ghosts, but the larger conspiracy he becomes accidentally complicit in, the civil /religious war between two cults who have Different Ideas (about ghosts, specifically), was, eh. It made for a good couch for Jevick's core quest but IDK, I wasn't very invested in it. It felt like a contrivance that came up to rest Jevick's love of literature and his quest for Jissavet upon and give it higher stakes. Which is OK! I just didn't care. It's still a good book and maybe Sofia will write a compendium of the poetries she showcases in it.


For some reason I'd never read anything by Mary Anne Mohanraj before, I don't think. I heard her read a story when she was WisCon GOH. Anyway, The Stars Change is a lovely intro to her writing. She'd told me that she wanted to write about South Asians in space, and that the novella is also erotica, and I was like "South Asians in space having sex? I am ALL for that" and while reading this it occurred to me that she hadn't told me about the intergalactic war being spearheaded by human supremacists, the amazing ensemble cast, the beautiful little injections of Indian-ness and postcolonial snark. It's got ordinary people who suddenly gather to do extraordinary things in the face of terror and fear. The cast is intergalactically diverse and she writes aliens that are clearly different in several ways, not just physically but culturally too. There're people who don't care about each other, people who love their loved ones, and people who really love each other. Unlikely couples and unlikely heroines. Cooking samosas while people convene for a community discussion on how to stop a potential massacre. There's discussion about finding God and faith and how that should guide ethics. I'm pretty sure no one would call this literary or whatever, but it hits a lot of right spots. I am emotionally exhausted from it.



Not sure what to read next yet. Possibly some Tanith Lee though.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
So as some of you know, I am moving to California and have to transport stuff across the border. Except moving companies are expensive. My major things are a bed, a printer, a piano keyboard, and a sewing machine, but the rest are pretty replaceable.

My books, not so much. I don't have enough books to warrant a 2500lbs minimum but that's still quite a hefty number of books.


It'll work like this:

1) I'll create a master list of the books I have and throw it up on Google Docs.

2) If you're interested in borrowing a book from me, write your name in. Try to keep it reasonable, because

3) I'll pack them in boxes and mail these books to you. I'll take care of the shipping.

4) You keep the boxes, because when you are done reading the books, and I'm safely ensconced in California, you can use that same box to mail the books back to me.

This way, I get to keep my books and get them transported to me anyway, and YOU get to read books you might not want to actually buy for yourself.


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