book review

Thumbs up for An Introduction to Shinto by David Chart. Philosophy.

This was recommended to me as the best introduction to Shinto for the completely ignorant; I agree and will second the recommendation. The author is a Brit by birth, now a Japanese citizen, who has been a devout practitioner of Shinto for many years, and works as a consultant for Jinja Honcho (the largest Shinto organization).… >> Read more

Two thumbs up for A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life by George Saunders. Writing.

With the exception of two or three SFF authors, I don’t enjoy reading short stories, which means I don’t write them with any confidence, either. I am always suspicious that they are merely vignettes rather than stories.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York by Roz Chast. Travel.

I know nothing about Roz Chast other than that she is a cartoonist, but I share her love of New York, and specifically, wandering around on foot just looking at things. I got to do that for about five days once and they were some of the best days of my life.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for Green Angel by Alice Hoffman. Science fiction.

After a girl’s family is killed in some sort of semi-apocalyptic event, she finds a new emotional identity and learns how to survive. If you embrace this novella as a work of poetry, it is lovely. If you insist on having things logically explained, you will hate it. I can keep myself in the former camp, with a bit of effort.… >> Read more

Two thumbs up for Mo Dao Zu Shi (Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation) by Mo Xiang Tongxiu. Fantasy.

This review contains spoilers, but you’ll thank me. Context first: my roommate and I watched The Untamed on Netflix over the course of something like five days. It’s 50 hour-long episodes – my eyes stopped being able to focus and I was learning Mandarin by osmosis by episode 40.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for The Guiding Nose of Ulfant Banderoz by Dan Simmons. Fantasy.

A novella set in the world of Jack Vance’s Dying Earth; I haven’t read any of that series but it didn’t reduce the pleasure I took in this gleefully purple little gem. Shrue the Diabolist learns of the death of Ulfant Banderoz, proprietor of the Ultimate Library, and sets out on a quest to possess the library’s secrets.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for Roadmarks by Roger Zelazny. Science fiction.

The hallmark of the books I’ve read by Zelazny is that they are almost entirely dialogue, and nothing is explained, so reading them is like doing an enjoyable logic puzzle. As, indeed, was my experience with Roadmarks. However, even one week after reading I discover I retained none of it except for the delightful fact that the characters include two sentient books, Flowers (Les fleurs du mal) and Leaves (…of Grass) which help their human companions interface with their cars.… >> Read more