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Title: Sea, Swallow Me
Author: Craig Laurance Gidney
Number of Pages: 199 pages
Book Number/Goal: 16/50 for 2011
My Rating: 2.5/5

Jacket Summary: Ancient folklore and modern myth come together in these stories by author Craig Laurance Gidney. Here are found the struggles of a medieval Japanese monk, seduced by a mischievous fairy, and a young slave who finds mystery deep within the briar patch of an antebellum plantation. Gidney offers readers a gay teen obsessed with his patron saint, Lena Horne, and, in the title story, an ailing tourist seeking to escape his troubles at a distant shore, but who never anticipates encountering an African seagod. Rich, poetic, dark and disturbing, these are tales not soon forgotten.

Review: Honestly I wasn't really impressed with this book. There were a few stories I really liked and the rest were just okay. Also, the copy I have is an ARC, so it's got a lot of mistakes, which hopefully were corrected in the final proof (the most annoying one was in the Japanese story, where Amaterasu was misspelled as Amaratsu throughout the story).
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Title: War Dances
Author: Sherman Alexie
Number of Pages: 256 pages
Book Number/Goal: 68/75 for 2009
My Rating: 2.5/5

This is a collection of short stories and poems linked mainly by the fact that they're about whiny guys. I don't know. I did like a couple of the stories (especially the last one, Salt, and the title story), but the ones that left a bad taste in my mouth really left a bad taste in my mouth and kind of overpower all the rest. The Ballad of Paul Nonetheless was just gross, and I get that he was supposed to be a gross asshat guy, but I don't really need to read a story about a guy who's just wallowing in his assholishness while going "wah, wah, poor me", you know? I could go anywhere on the internet and find a million of them.

Added to that the fact that I'm not a big fan of poetry and these poems didn't do anything to change my mind, and that the writing itself wasn't that great, this was just really not the book for me. I'm glad this wasn't the first thing of his I ever read, otherwise I'd probably write him off and never read anything of his again.
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Title: Wish I Was Here
Author: Jackie Kay
Number of Pages: 198 pages
Book Number/Goal: 30/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

I didn't enjoy this quite as much as I did Why Don't You Stop Talking, but it's still a really awesome book. I just love the way she writes, her use of language, everything.

As with her previous short story collection, most of these are about queer people (mostly lesbians, though the last story is about gay men), though this time they seem to be mostly not about people of color (only two (IIRC) are specified as being PoC and many are specified as being white, with a few that don't indicate one way or the other).

I think my favorite stories were Wish I Was Here, My Daughter the Fox, and The Mirrored Twins.

Mooch from BookMooch
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Leni Zumas "Farewell Navigator" - 0.5/5

This is the worst book I've read in a long time. The stories are full of themselves, dripping with this "ooh, I'm so deep because I write about X" feeling, yet they're so fake, like the author obviously has no clue what she's talking about. A good example would be the one about a girl who supposedly comes from a town so small it's not on any map, past or present, yet the town not only has a YMCA, it had two high schools until recently! A town as small as the one this girl is supposed to come from would probably not have a school at all, much less multiple high schools. I live in a city with a population of...wikipedia says 88,000 in 2006, surely more now, and there is only one high school!

That's the point at which I almost gave up on the book. I was halfway through and getting more and more annoyed with each story. But I did see it through to the end, mainly because it's only 170 pages.

But from the very first story I was annoyed. The first story is about a boy with blind parents. The portrayal is pretty damn offensive (the dad serves dinner full of blood because he cuts his fingers when he cooks; the mom is portrayed as a pathetic loser who tries to seduce the son's friend), and also sets the tone for the fatphobia that is a running theme throughout the book. Bad people are not only fat, but described in detail as being gross and disgusting and lazy slobs who sit around doing nothing and have no lives. Also all fat people are, of course, fat because all they do all day is stuff their faces.

There are also stupid factual errors like a girl's (fat, loser) mom who watches an old program about the Challenger, except the author couldn't be bothered to find out that the Challenger exploded on takeoff, not after it had been in space. (And it's just a casual mention, obviously not meant to be an alternate universe or anything.)

Like, do you have to be lazy on top of being offensive and pretentious? Really? Meh. Since LibraryThing lets you give half stars, I didn't even give this a one.
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Ali Smith "The First Person and Other Stories" - 3.5/5

I would like to read more of Smith's short stories, as there are some here I really enjoyed a lot, but at least from this collection, I think I like her better as a novelist than a short-story writer.

I often feel a little lost reading her stories, as if I'm not quite getting what she's after, but in a novel there's at least a little longer to try and get hold of it, whereas here, there were several stories I was left feeling like they were rather pointless. Even those, I did enjoy, though, because I just love her writing so much. Even when I've no idea what she's on about, I love the language and the flow of her prose. It's always beautiful.
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Jackie Kay "Why Don't You Stop Talking" - 5/5

Oh wow. Just wow. I loved Trumpet and have been eager to read anything else by Jackie Kay since then and this is the first thing I've been able to get my hands on. It BLOWS TRUMPET AWAY. Seriously.

Not every story was awesome, but they were all very, very good, and there were several that instantly became some of my favorite short stories ever. I especially loved Out of Hand and Married Women.
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This book was interesting. I can't say I loved it, but I definitely enjoyed the stories and would read more by her. One thing that bothered me, though, was that they're all told in first person, all about different people, and yet all have the same, very odd/quirky voice to them. Which...would work fine if that were her narrative voice and she were writing in third person. Less so when I'm supposed to believe that every one of these people is this peculiar in exactly the same way.

One thing that greatly amused me, though, is that two of the stories are RPF! But, but! I thought only perverts and sickos on the internets wrote fiction about real people! One of the stories has Madeleine L'Engle as a character, as well as Madeleine L'Engle's (fictional) husband. And the husband has an affair! Maybe it's okay because Madeleine L'Engle is (recently) dead.


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