HomeCaracabe's books: done with

Books I've finished or abandoned so far this year. (As of this writing, I haven't abandoned any.)

Done with: November 27th
TitleInside the Outside : an anthology of avant-garde American poets
CategoryPoetry
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Roseanne Ritzema, editor;
Hugh Fox, Eric Greinke, & Harry Smith, contributing editors
DescriptionPoets in here include some well-known (such as Richard Kostelanetz), some unfamiliar to me (like A.D. Winans), and two I've published once or twice when I edited print zines (Lyn Lifshin and, again, Kostelanetz).
Start Date2022-09-28
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-11-21
RemarksLittle of the poetry in here seems especially avant garde or challenging. Notable exceptions are Kostelantetz, Savitt and Sonnenfeld.
TitleThe Sleepless
CategoryFiction
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Nuzo Onoh, author
Description"Set amidst the Biafran War, The Sleepless follows one child's struggles against both the natural and supernatural forces that threaten to end her life before the deadly enemy bombs can do so."
Start Date2022-10-30
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-11-15
RemarksWell-written, expertly paced, chilling, and heartbreaking.
TitleHaunted Kansas : ghost stories and other eerie tales
CategoryNonfiction
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Lisa Hefner Heitz, author
Description"Collects oral histories, eye-witness accounts, and local legends about ghosts, poltergeists, spook lights, and other restless spirits."
Start Date2022-10-06
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-11-06
RemarksUnless you have Kansas connections, this book is unlikely to sustain your interest. The writing style would earn an "A" in a high school English class.
TitleConvulsive
CategoryFiction
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Joe Koch, author
Description"(New museums birth atrocity in every flex)" — whatever that means, it's on the title page. A collection of horror short stories.
Start Date2022-10-07
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-10-30
RemarksA remarkable collection, not for the squeamish.
TitleWeird Dream Society: An Anthology of the Possible & Unsubstantiated in Support of RAICES
CategoryFiction
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Julie C. Day, editor-in-chief;
Carina Bissett, co-editor;
Chip Houser, co-editor;
Gregory Norman Bossert, cover illustration;
Steve Toase, social media coordinator
Description"Playful, whimsical, or dark, but always thoughtful and tinged with the inexplicably weird, Weird Dream Society brings together twenty-three stories from the most innovative creators in speculative fiction."
Start Date2022-09-21
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-10-06
RemarksA very good anthology of speculative fiction, including science fiction, fantasy, horror, and surrealism.
TitleMemoirs of a Beatnik
CategoryNonfiction
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Diane di Prima, author
Description"Portrays the coming of age of a young female artist coming of age intellectually and sensually in the beatnik atmosphere of 1950s New York." (I'm aware of the redundancy, just copying and pasting from worldcat.org."
Start Date2022-09-21
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-10-06
RemarksA fascinating but uncomfortable read. First published in 1969, the book is liberal with slurs for some ethnicities and sexual orientation. Many graphic sex scenes. Some of what di Prima experienced sexually (and, to be honest, some of what she did) would rightly be called sexual abuse today. Unflinchingly honest.
TitleAutobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse
CategoryPoetry
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Anne Carson, author
Description"The award-winning poet reinvents a genre in a stunning work that is both a novel and a poem, both an unconventional re-creation of an ancient Greek myth and a wholly original coming-of-age story set in the present."
Start Date2022-09-12
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-09-27
RemarksThe main character is both a modern-day boy and a winged, red monster, while the narrative takes place in many different levels of reality. Well-written, thoughtful, moving.
TitleAgainst the Grain
CategoryFiction
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)J.-K. Huysmans, author;
John Howard, translator
DescriptionThis "novel without a plot" follows decadent anti-hero Jean des Esseintes's attempt to retreat from life into a world of intellect, aesthetics and sensations.
Start Date2022-08-29
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-09-21
RemarksIn an early chapter, Esseintes has the shell of his pet tortoise gilded and set with gemstones. The animal dies under the weight. This is not one of those novels where the blue curtains are just blue curtains.
TitleVisionary Fictions: Apocalyptic writing from Blake to the modern age
CategoryNonfiction
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Edward J. Ahearn, author
Description"Beginning with the appearance of visionary writing in the work of William Blake, Ahearn traces the development of the form in texts by widely scattered authors writing in French, German, and English."
Start Date2022-08-26
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-09-19
RemarksBlake comes first, not just chronologically, but as providing a template for Ahearn to discuss the other writers, and the connection between visionary writing and historical events.
Titlecorpse whale
CategoryPoetry
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)dg nanouk okpik, author
Description"... a collection of poems that are steeped in the perspective of an Inuit of the twenty-first century--a perspective that is fresh, vibrant, and rarely seen in contemporary poetics."
Start Date2022-08-11
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-09-11
RemarksI found the poet's use of multiple simultaneous viewpoints more manageable if I mentally switched among them -- "she" for this phrase, "I" for the next one, etc.
TitleBeneath the Rising
CategoryFiction: horror
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Premee Mohamed, author
Description"Nick Prasad has always enjoyed a quiet life in the shadow of his best friend, child prodigy and technological genius Joanna 'Johnny' Chambers. But all that is about to end. When Johnny invents a clean reactor that could eliminate fossil fuels and change the world, she awakens primal, evil Ancient Ones set on subjugating humanity."
Start Date2022-08-15
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-08-27
RemarksA combination of cosmic horror and coming-of-age tale, with a fresh take on the Cthulhu mythos.
TitleThe Souls of Black Folk
CategoryNonfiction
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)W.E.B. Du Bois, author
Description"This landmark book is a founding work in the literature of black protest."
Start Date2022-07-26
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-08-25
RemarksThis work seems unfortunately contemporary in many ways, and surprisingly modern in its mix of memoir, statistics, anecdote, and analysis.
TitleThe Hollow Places
CategoryFiction: Horror
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)T. Kingfisher, author
Description"Pray they are hungry. Kara finds the words in the mysterious bunker that she's discovered behind a hole in the wall of her uncle's house. "
Start Date2022-08-09
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-08-14
RemarksMarvelous and wonderful, in the full senses of both of those words. All the main human (and feline) characters are decent people, so there's emotional investment to spare. No romance, which is neither a plus nor a minus for me, but I know it matters to some.
Title365 Days: A Poetry Anthology, Vol. 4
CategoryPoetry
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)James Benger, editor
Dan Pohl, editor
DescriptionFrom the "365 Poems in 365 Days" Facebook group. I have poetry in this anthology.
Start Date2022-07-26
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-08-10
RemarksI'm flattered to be included with such skillful and incisive poets.
TitleThe Hearing Trumpet
CategoryFiction: Surrealism
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Leonora Carrington, author;
Pablo Weisz Carrington, illustrator;
Olga Tokarczuk, author of afterword
Description"The novel begins in the bourgeois comfort of a residential corner of a Mexican city and ends with a man-made apocalypse that promises to usher in the earth's rebirth."
Start Date2022-07-26
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-08-08
RemarksA visionary take on agism, feminism, and ecological catastrophe.
TitleMy Heart Is a Chainsaw
CategoryFiction: Horror
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Stephen Graham Jones, author
Description"In her quickly gentrifying rural lake town Jade sees recent events only her encyclopedic knowledge of horror films could have prepared her for..."
Start Date2022-07-22
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-07-26
RemarksA gripping read that kept me up too late more than one night.
TitleThe Haiku Anthology: Revised Edition
CategoryPoetry
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Cor Van den Heuvel, editor
Description"Over 700 of the best English language haiku, senryu and related works."
Start Date2022-06-05
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-07-25
RemarksA valuable anthology of haiku and haiku-adjacent poetry. Read it slowly and attentively to get the full value of each poem. (Usually good advice for poetry, though I can think of some exceptions, e.g. Byron's narrative verse.)
TitleThe Curious Case of H.P. Lovecraft
CategoryNonfiction
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Paul Roland, author
DescriptionA biography of the influential horror writer and notorious bigot.
Start Date2022-07-16
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-07-25
RemarksInteresting and entertaining, if sometimes amateurishly written. More than once the author uses a word close to his intended meaning (i.e., "gluttonous" when I'm pretty sure he meant "gelatinous"), and his psychological insights are not particularly penetrating.
TitleCoyote Songs: a barrio noir
CategoryFiction: Horror
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Gabino Iglesias, author
Description"In this mosaic horror/crime novel, ghosts and old gods guide the hands of those caught up in a violent struggle to save the soul of the American southwest."
Start Date2022-07-17
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-07-20
RemarksExciting, thought-provoking, moving. The opening scene is quite evocative (before it turns horrible), and though I have little in common with the young man in the scene, it took me back to my own fishing trips with my father.
TitleYour Body Is Not Your Body: A New Weird Horror Anthology
CategoryFiction: Horror
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Alex Woodroe, editor;
Matt Blairstone, editor
Description"A new weird horror anthology to benefit trans youth in Texas"
Start Date2022-06-30
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-07-17
RemarksThe best anthology of weird horror I've read in years.
TitleThe Gnostic Gospels
CategoryNonfiction
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Elaine Pagels, author
Description… draws on those [Gnostic] texts to illuminate the world of the first Christians and to examine the different ways in which both the Gnostics and orthodox constructed God, Christ, and the Church.
Start Date2022-07-01
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-07-15
RemarksA fascinating look at early alternate versions of Christianity.
TitleThe Confessions of an English Opium-Eater
CategoryNonfiction
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Thomas De Quincey, author
DescriptionDe Quincey's autobiographical account of his laudanum addiction.
Start Date2022-06-04
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-06-30
RemarksPossibly the first addiction memoir. Well worth reading, but Thoreau justly complained of De Quincey that he leaves nothing unsaid. Long paragraphs are the norm -- the longest about 6 pages.
TitleWhat Can You Say Against a Death Machine?
CategoryFiction
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Marty Shambles, author
DescriptionA collection of absurdist flash fiction.
Start Date2022-06-27
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-06-29
RemarksA delectable read, not a clunker in the bunch.
TitleManhunt
CategoryFiction: Horror
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Gretchen Felker-Martin, author
Description"Beth and Fran spend their days traveling the ravaged New England coast, hunting feral men and harvesting their organs..."
Start Date2022-06-12
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-06-26
RemarksI went into this book afraid it had been overhyped, but it did not disappoint. Whatever content warnings you need, this book has that content. Parts definitely made me uncomfortable, but not in a bad way.
TitleQueens of the Abyss: Lost Stories from the Women of the Weird
CategoryFiction
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Mike Ashley, editor
Description"This new anthology follows the instrumental contributions made by women writers to the weird tale, and revives the lost authors of the early pulp magazines along with the often overlooked work of more familiar authors."
Start Date2022-05-20
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-06-11
RemarksNone of the writers was unfamiliar to me, but most of the stories were. The only disappointment was Marjorie Bowen's "The Bishop of Hell," where the author drags the supernatural onstage at the last moment to provide a moral. The most pleasant surprise was "The Seventh Horse," by surrealist artist Leonora Carrington.
TitleFolly Took a Seat and Laughed in our Faces: A Poetry Anthology
CategoryPoetry
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Rebecca Rijsdijk, editor;
Leanne Kuiper, editor
Description"Sunday Mornings at the River's Quarterly poetry publications, feature the work of contemporary poets from all over the world." This anthology is for Winter 2021. (My review copy is an ebook, but it’s also available in paperback.)
Start Date2022-05-04
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-06-04
RemarksI will be posting a review of this book soon.
TitleWhat Is Life? & other scientific essays
CategoryNonfiction: science, philosophy
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Erwin Schrödinger, author
DescriptionA variety of essays written for the lay reader by renowned cat killer/non-killer and Nobel-winning physicist Erwin Schrödinger.
Start Date2022-04-15
StatusIn progress; p. 132 / 263
End Date2022-06-03
RemarksSchrödinger writes about science, the philosophy of science, the psychology of science, and the immortality of the soul. Really.
TitleDark Country
CategoryFiction: Horror
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Monique Snyman, author
Description"When a ravaged corpse is discovered in Pretoria, South Africa, Esmé Snyder—an occult-crime expert—is called in to investigate." (Ebook, ARC)
Start Date2022-05-05
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-05-18
RemarksI will be posting a review of this book soon.
TitleThe Rehearsal of Misunderstanding: Three Collections by Contemporary Greek Women Poets bilingual edition
CategoryPoetry
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Rhea Galanaki, author
Jenny Mastoraki, author
Maria Laina, author
Karen Van Dyck, translator and author of introduction
DescriptionThe three books included are The Cake, by Rhea Galanaki; Tales of the Deep, by Jenny Mastoraki; and Hers, by Maria Laina.
Start Date2022-04-15
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-05-04
RemarksAll three poets began writing when Greece was under a dictatorship. That era over, they retained their strategies of subterfuge and indirection to write about the experience of being women in a patriarchal society. Time, location, identity, and language are fluid and ambiguous in these works, and the meaning often resides in what is left unsaid.
TitleAnother Country
CategoryFiction
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)James Baldwin, author
Description"Set in Greenwich Village, Harlem, and France, among other locales, Another Country is a novel of passions—sexual, racial, political, artistic..."
Start Date2022-03-25
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-05-03
RemarksA beautiful, brutal work. Another Country was a bestseller, but got mixed reviews from the critics. Some, of course, objected to the homosexuality in the book. Today, a more likely complaint among my circle would be that there don't seem to be any gay characters in the story. (Or maybe one, in a bit part.) The queer men seem to be either bisexual, or "Straight, but I'll make an exception for you." A marvelously written, emotionally complex work.
TitleHand to Mouth: The Truth About Being Poor in a Wealthy World
CategoryNonfiction
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Linda Tirado, author
Description"In Hand to Mouth, [Tirado] gives a searing, witty and clear-eyed insider account of being poor in the world's richest nation. She looks at how ordinary people fall or are born into the poverty trap, explains why the poor don't always behave in the way the middle classes think they should, and makes an urgent call for us all to understand and meet the challenges they face."
Start Date2022-03-30
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-04-15
RemarksI've been poor, and my experience corroborates Tirado's account of what it's like. The last chapter is an open letter to rich people, but this is a book that everyone should read.
TitleNew Poets of Native Nations
CategoryPoetry
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Heid E. Erdrich, editor
Description"New Poets of Native Nations gathers poets of diverse ages, styles, languages, and cultures to present the extraordinary range and power of new Native poetry."
Start Date2022-03-08
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-04-14
RemarksI'm not saying you won't find canyons and eagles and feathers and coyotes here (nor am I complaining because they are present), but that isn't all you'll find. Erdrich truly has assembled a diverse selection of Native American poets, voices: some accessible, some challenging, some lyrical, some harsh. Not all of the poetry is in English, and when it isn't, translations usually aren't provided, but I'm at fault for not learning the language(s) of the nation I live in.
TitleThe Atrocities
CategoryFiction: horror
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Jeremy C. Shipp, author
Description"When Isabella died, her parents were determined to ensure her education wouldn't suffer. But Isabella's parents had not informed her new governess of Isabella's… condition, and when Ms Valdez arrives at the estate, having forced herself through a surreal nightmare maze of twisted human-like statues, she discovers that there is no girl to tutor."
Start Date2022-03-19
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-03-24
RemarksA delightful bit of weird horror. Shipp has a vividly visual imagination, and a way of throwing out tantalizing hints of stories behind the story being told.
TitleChristina Rosetti: A Divided Life
CategoryNonfiction: biography
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Georgina Battiscombe, author
DescriptionWhen published in 1981, this biography of Rosetti was said to be "the first in more than two decades… drawing upon hitherto unpublished materials."
Start Date2022-03-13
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-03-30
RemarksBattiscombe spends too much ink debunking an earlier Rossetti biography. On the other hand, she wisely doesn't take the poetry as a reliable guide to the poet's life events. Enjoyable enough, and an easy read.
TitleThe Changeling
CategoryFiction: Horror
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Victor Lavalle, author
Description"When Apollo Kagwa's father disappeared, he left his son a box of books and strange recurring dreams. Now Apollo is a father himself—and as he and his wife, Emma, settle into their new lives… Apollo's dreams return and Emma begins acting odd."
Start Date2022-02-15
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-03-19
RemarksIt's not clear for quite a while whether this is supernatural or psychological horror, but it is effective either way. It's also obvious, from topics the story touches on where I have some experience or knowledge, that Lavalle did his research thoroughly.
TitleBarracoon
CategoryNonfiction: biography, history
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Zora Neale Hurston, author
Deborah G. Plant, editor
foreword by Alice Walker
Description"The Story of the Last 'Black Cargo.'"
Start Date2022-03-01
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-03-12
RemarksHurston's first full-length book, Barracoon was not published in her lifetime—perhaps partly because she let Cudjo Lewis (Kossula) tell his own story in his own words, and perhaps in part because it describes the complicity of some African leaders in the slave trade. The story of Kossula's life is a harrowing and heartbreaking one.
TitleA Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology
CategoryPoetry
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Czeslaw Milosz, editor
Description"A collection of the world's greatest poetry from the past two thousand years brings together five hundred works by more than two hundred poets, along with commentary by the editor."
Start Date2022-01-30
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-03-08
RemarksA good anthology, with only a few of those poems you find in dozens of other anthologies. Milosz has the tact not to include his own poetry, though he does include a relative or two. The word "things" in the title is as important as "luminous" — Milosz is very much a poet of this world, downright anti-romantic. I found the introductory comments to the poems suprisingly banal, coming as they do from a Nobel literature laureate. Many of them seem more appropriate for a middle school textbook on literature appreciation. In a couple of cases, Milosz seems to be saying the poem (which he selected for inclusion) really isn't very good.
TitleMirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone
CategoryNonfiction
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Eduardo Galeano, author
Mark Fried, translator
Description"The unofficial history of the world seen — and mirrored to us — through the eyes and voices of history's unseen, unheard, and forgotten, over 5000 years of history."
Start Date2022-01-14
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-02-28
RemarksThis book is easy to read in short bursts, but in doing so, you run the risk of missing connections and modulations from chapter to chapter. (Most are shorter than one page.) A succession of chapter titles will give you an idea: "Nijinksy," followed by "Origin of Jazz," "Resurrection of Django," "Origin of the Tango," "Origin of Hollywood," "Origin of Modern Art," and "Origin of the Modern Novel."
TitleCertain Dark Things
CategoryFiction: Horror
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Silvia Moreno-Garcia, author
Description"Welcome to Mexico City… An Oasis In A Sea Of Vampires…"
Start Date2022-01-14
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-02-14
RemarksNot scary, but entertaining and suspenseful. I'm impressed with how economically Moreno-Garcia builds her world, with its subspecies of vampires coexisting with, using, fighting or evading ordinary humans. The ending satisfies, and the journey is enjoyable.
TitleCool Shades of Eventide
CategoryPoetry
Author(s) / Editor(s) / Translator(s)Nancy Krieg, author
Description
Start Date2022-01-14
StatusFinished reading
End Date2022-01-29
RemarksA delightful book, filled with marvelous images and phrases. The author is a musician, and it shows both in the frequent musical content and in her ear for language. One stanza from the title poem:
emotions
we light them
like cigarettes and defile
the air of someone else
friends cough and choke
as they listen
(Disclosure: Nancy Krieg and I are both in the 365 Poems in 365 Days Facebook writing group.)