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bibliotechy@bookwyrm.social

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A Prayer for the Crown-Shy (EBook, 2022, Tordotcom) 5 stars

After touring the rural areas of Panga, Sibling Dex (a Tea Monk of some renown) …

Like a soothing cup of tea

5 stars

Another sweet and generous tale, so full of heart and the doubts that can fill one. I found myself moved to think about the world differently and literally reconsidered my career choices at one point while reading. The way the author teases out ideas about identity and self-perception really landed for me.

On a less positive note, this book got me trouble when I laughed out loud in bed and woke up my wife who had just nodded off. Thanks Becky!

COBOL WITH STYLE (Hayden Books) 4 stars

Inspired by the "Elements of Style" by Strunk and White--in that the authors address those …

Suprising resonant though I don't know COBOL

4 stars

I picked this book up on a whim when it was on a free shelf outside a store in a tiny town in New Mexico. I was intrigued by a book about programming from 1976 with a cover that gave a feeling of downright whimsy; cherubs, intricate ornamental patterns along the border. And even the title: "COBOL with Style" gave it a more modern feel. Most older programming books I have encountered have a much dryer, matter-of-fact presentation, setting out to teach you the facts of the language.

Though I've never written a line of COBOL in my life, and never plan to, I decided to read this anyway and I was pleasantly surprised by how much of it felt applicable. It spends most of the first half encouraging you not to just jump into programming, but spending time upfront assessing and fleshing out the actual problem, planning your approach …

Milagro Beanfld War (Paperback, 1986, Ballantine Books) 5 stars

Joe Mondragon, thirty-six with not much to show for it, a feisty hustler with a …

A war of ideas, via beans

5 stars

A wildly entertaining and enthralling story of a small New Mexico town (Milagro) and the effects of money, power, history, and perception, on the lives of both its residents, both poor and wealthy. The author spares no paragraphs in telling the sometimes tragic, sometimes ridiculous, history of the towns residents, many of whose families date back to original Spanish settlers.

What I've really been left thinking about is the statement it makes about the outsized importance that the perception of power plays in determining the towns fate. While the richest person in town (referred to via nicknames and translation from Spanish as "Vulture" Devine ) has accumulated most of the land and power in town, seizing on the times of weakness of the poor, what doomed the residents, and their ancestors, to dispossession was their perception that they were powerless. The crux of the novel is about taking power, even …

Japanese Tales of Lafcadio Hearn (EBook, 2019, Princeton University Press) 4 stars

A collection of twenty-eight brilliant and strange stories, inspired by Japanese folk tales and written …

Japanese fairy tales as told by an outsider/insider

4 stars

I really enjoyed these spooky fairy tales with mercurial fairy kings, a woman whose soul was a tree, nefarious floating ghost heads, and more. Apparently Hearn collected these tales over his decades settling into a Japanese life, translating and selecting ones he’d thought would be interesting to a Western audience.

I was fascinated by the life of Lafcadio Hearn as described in the introduction. His peripatetic biography was wild, from tiny Greek Island childhood to London pauper, to Midwestern reporter to chronicler of New Orleans backways, and then ultimately settling in Japan. I think I’ll be reading more about him based in this.

What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky (2018, Tinder Press) 5 stars

"A dazzlingly accomplished debut collection explores the ties that bind parents and children, husbands and …

Beautifully crafted stories and characters

5 stars

A joy to read , even when the stories themselves deal with difficult topics, because of the effortless flow of the narrative in each short tale. As a collection, it gives a kind of kaleidoscopic view of Nigéria: past, present, and future; from hard nosed reality to speculative magical realism; from the homeland to the diaspora. Absolutely loved it and can’t wait to read more from the author.

Black Jesus and Other Superheroes (2017, University of Nebraska Press) 3 stars

Black Jesus and Other Superheroes chronicles ordinary people achieving vivid extrasensory perception while under extreme …

Not as good as I’d hoped

3 stars

A collection of short stories, with an emphasis on short. Many 2 page stories that felt more like an idea for a short story, or a scene from a full story. Perhaps a stylistic choice to go along with the “peek in my on someones life” theme of these stories, but it just felt jarring to me. The author also goes heavy on literary stylistics, using unusual and surprising metaphors and descriptions, which I found distracting and confusing. That said, I really enjoyed he last two stories in this collection which are longer and more fleshed out, where the author’s style is spread out around exposition that helps ground the characters, enriching them to be more than mere vehicles for ideas.

Borges, a life (2004, Viking) 4 stars

Edwin Williamson’s major new biography is the first in any language to encompass the entire …

Like a narrator for Borges' inner monologue

4 stars

The thing I found most enthralling about this biography of Borges, is also what gave me pause: the intense and assured focus on Borges' inner life and its influence on his writing. Williamson spins a compelling narrative about the how the traumas, and occasional triumphs, of Borges personal life were the driving force behind the triumphs, and occasional traumas, of his public life as an author, poet, and scholar. The book delves deep into the formative experiences of his life, from isolated in-home education and the wonder of his father's library, the pressure of his storied patrician familial background and his mother's expectations, to his struggle's with romantic love and his own insecurities about being worthy of it. Williamson's depiction of Borges channeling those feelings into writing is persuasive and effortless, almost always letting the actions and creative works speak for themselves in showing their relationship.

And yet...while I found …