Tag: Amy Parker

Reading 2016: February


  1. This Census-Taker by China Miéville – The first of his books that I’ve read since Embassytown, this short novel is a bit of a departure. It’s a study in voice and character that resists plot resolution in favor of mounting tonal stresses. Somewhat similar to Jeff VanderMeer’s Adaptation in that regard. And like that book, one I found pleasant enough while reading, but didn’t overly impress. I liked seeing a stylistic departure, though, even if it wasn’t my favorite thing of his I’ve read.
  2. Beasts & Children by Amy Parker – Amy is a friend from grad school, and her debut is a collection of linked short stories that look at caretaking as understood by children from their parents, parents toward their children, and humans toward animals. Each of these stories is strong on it’s own, but there’s a delightful momentum as you watch the main characters grow into adults, meet each other, face old problems from new angles with the weight of personal history behind them. The book gets better and better as it goes along.
  3. Private Citizens by Tony Tulathimutte – Another debut from a grad school friend. Tony’s novel has been getting deservedly glowing reviews all over the place, for its hyperliterate prose, its blistering satirical edge, and its photorealistic capturing of a familiar millennial mood. I read this straight through in less than a day, and then went back and re-read chapters that had lodged especially deeply.
  4. Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman, J. H. Williams III, Dave Stewart – Probably my favorite thing I’ve read by Neil Gaiman since The Graveyard Book, with typically astonishing art from J. H. Williams III. Made me want to go back and reread all of Sandman.
  5. Odd John by Olaf Stapeldon – I’m continually impressed with the breadth of Stapledon’s imagination, and how many of his ideas have since been reinvented and made cliche in ways he could never have anticipated. Odd John is the story of the birth, rearing, and death of a superhuman, perhaps an early member of one of the species of humanity described in Last and First Men. I found this book completely enjoyable right up until chapter 16, where there’s a huge knot of anthropological racism: a superhuman from Africa is characterized in ways that read to the modern eye as buffoonish stereotypes. The volume on such caricatures is turned down thereafter, but never quite goes to zero. It’s a shame, because the book is otherwise wonderful.
Carline had this theory that we all get stuck at certain points of our lives, that they come to define us and exert a kind of gravity. Most of Daniel's stories orbited around his momma, a woman who never was, if you asked Carline. In his head Daniel was still ten years old. Though now he was adding tales from the Farm to his repertoire. Just like Daniel, to turn a pathetic stint in County for one too many DUIs into something romantic and glamorous. Like he was Cool Hand Luke. Please. She envied Danny's power to change mistake into myths. –From Beasts and Children by Amy Parker

My Friends Write Things: Hurricanes and Hauntings


  • Kingdom by the Sea” by Amy Parker – I was lucky enough to see an early draft of this story, a glorious, intense reimagining of Lolita. It’s like a literary vivisection, using scalpels historical, critical, fictional to slice away twitching layers of Humbert Humbert and extract a personal narrative for Dorothy Haze.
  • The Invention of Separate People” by Kevin Brockmeier – Kevin is one of our greatest living fantasists, and if you’ve never read him before it’s time to start. This story was originally published in Unstuck, and is about a world where people are themselves, yes, but also everyone else. Everyone is one person, until someone (everyone) begins to learn how to be separate.
  • Skin Suit” by Janalyn Guo – The main character is a lump of dark, amorphous matter that must wear taxidermied suits to appear human, but its parents are two planes of brilliant light, and it’s time for a family reunion.
  • Horror Story” by Carmen Machado – This time Carmen’s penned a creepy tale of crumbling relationships and haunted houses. Read it in the dark.
  • The Game of Smash and Recovery” by Kelly Link – It’s a Kelly Link story. That should be all you need to know, but I’ll add that this story is Kelly’s take on space opera, and dedicated to Iain M. Banks.



Recommended Short Books by Women

Yesterday I asked the internet for recommendations of short books written by women, with no criterion for what constituted “short.” Here’s what people offered. Books I’ve already read are in bold. (Recommenders are in parentheses.)

  • Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red. (Carmen Machado)
  • Willa Cather, A Lost Lady. (Debbie Kennedy)
  • Willa Cather, My Antonia. (Sarah Boden)
  • Kate Chopin, The Awakening. (Rebecca Coffey, Krystal Rios)
  • Marguerite Duras, The Lover. (Diana Spechler, Josh Rhome)
  • George Eliot, Silas Marner. (Amy Parker)
  • Marian Engel, Bear. (Carmen Machado)
  • Louise Erdich, Love Medicine. (Maureen McHugh)
  • Elena Ferrante, Days of Abandonment. (Amy Parker)
  • Carolyn Forché, The Country Between Us. (Joseph Tomaras)
  • Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm. (Jed Hartman)
  • Carolyn Ives Gilman, Halfway Human. (Jeanne Griggs)
  • Nadine Gordimer, July’s People. (Maureen McHugh)
  • Helene Hanff, 84 Charing Cross Road. (Jed Hartman)
  • Zora Neal Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God. (Amy Parker)
  • Rachel Ingall, Mrs. Caliban. (Carmen Machado)
  • Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House. (Rebecca Coffey, Amy Parker, Carmen Machado, Maureen McHugh)
  • Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived In The Castle. (Amy Parker, Maureen McHugh)
  • Tove Jansson, Tales from Moominvalley. (Jed Hartman)
  • Sesyle Joslin, The Spy Lady and the Muffin Man. (Jed Hartman)
  • Hitomi Kanehera, Snakes and Earrings. (Nick Mamatas)
  • Jamaica Kincaid, Lucy. (Valérie Savard)
  • Barbara Kingsolver, Pigs in Heaven. (Patrice Sarath)
  • Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees. (Patrice Sarath)
  • Nella Larson, Quicksand. (Alea Adigwame)
  • Ursula Le Guin, Fish Soup. (Jed Hartman)
  • Ursula Le Guin, Very Far From Anywhere Else. (Jed Hartman)
  • Tanith Lee, Don’t Bite the Sun. (@Rwenchette)
  • Doris Lessing, Memoirs of a Survivor. (Maureen McHugh)
  • Doris Lessing, The Fifth Child. (Amy Parker, Rebecca Coffey)
  • Denise Levertov, Collected Earlier Poems. (Joseph Tomaras)
  • Bertie MacAvoy, Tea with the Black Dragon. (Dana Huber)
  • Katherine Mansfield, At The Bay. (Debbie Kennedy)
  • Katherine Mansfield, Prelude. (Debbie Kennedy)
  • Patricia McKillip, Stepping from the Shadows. (Jed Hartman)
  • Jane Mendelsohn, I Was Amelia Earhart. (Stephanie Feldman)
  • Naomi Mitchison, Travel Light. (Jackie Monkiewicz)
  • Katherine Faw Morris, Young God. (Nick Mamatas)
  • Toni Morrison, Sula. (Maureen McHugh)
  • Jenny Offill, The Dept. of Speculation. (Josh Rhome)
  • Yoko Ogawa, Revenge. (Alexandra Geraets, Joseph Tomaras)
  • Sharon Olds, The Cold Cell. (Jed Hartman)
  • Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea. (Valérie Savard)
  • Joanna Russ, Picnic on Paradise. (Karen Meisner)
  • Joanna Russ, The Female Man. (Jed Hartman)
  • Ruth Sawyer, Roller Skates. (Jed Hartman)
  • Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. (Monica Byrne, Justin Cosner, Carmen Machado)
  • Cynthia Voigt, Dicey’s Song. (Jed Hartman)
  • Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome. (Amy Parker)
  • Kate Wilhelm, Where Late the Sweet Bird Sang. (Maureen McHugh)
  • Jeanette Winterson, Sexing the Cherry. (Jed Hartman)
  • Virginia Woolf, To The Lighthouse. (Amy Parker)
  • Margarite Yourcenar, Coup d’Grace. (Maureen McHugh)

I already own a copy of the most recommended book, The Haunting of Hill House, so that’s in the stack (as are several others). I think the first new one of these I’ll add is The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.