Sunday, March 21, 2004

heroin heroines

How to Stop Time: Heroin from A to Z by Ann Marlowe was facinating, even prompting me to want to try the same method of alphabetizing some aspect of my life into manageable vignettes. Somehow, however, I think success at this would be somewhat dependent on the kind of obsessive-compulsive personality to which Marlowe attributes her addictive personality. I.e., I don't think my life can be measured out in coffee spoons...

Still, a good read. I tried recommending it to a friend with a husband, at that time, in successful rehab. I thought it might be enlightening to read about the junkie mind set. But she was quite disgusted by the book and I got the feeling she intended to get it out of the house as soon as possible. We don't really want to analyze this too closely, as she is my best friend, analysis being best performed on strangers at a party as a parlor trick.

The book I'm currently reading, same topic, Ellen Miller's like being killed, has more the masochistic as opposed to obsessive-compulsive junkie heroine (pun intended.) Quite painful to read, Miller's novel is well-written but her character, unlike Marlowe's, is disgusting, wallowing in self-degradation. I must have started this book before and put it down for this reason. Episodes in the first part rang familiar, specifically a little section where she is subjugated to s/m humilation in a brief fling with her plumber, complete with Freudian overtones. Second time around, I'm still reading now over half-way through, though I have been surprised with myself. Suprised that so much of the novel I didn't remember the first time. The whole book has become an exciting exercise in conscious repression. If this novel is in any way autobiographical, Miller's courage in dredging up the slime in her unconscious to write about it is the secret to the strength of character I at first read missed.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Joyce Carol Oates

What I've read by Oates has been good, although I can't really say I'm enjoying this novel. It's beautifully written but not the kind of subject you can enjoy. The characters aren't the kind you want to identify with, all being emotionally crippled in one way or another. Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang, with that great heroine played in the movie by Angelina Jolie, has been my favorite of hers so far. The first thing of Oates I ever read was On Boxing, nonfiction and somewhat autobiograhical. I've shared it with a number of people and the feedback even from non-avid readers has been positive. The YA book, Big Mouth & Ugly Girl, I read after listening to the book on tape. Strong 'be yourself' message. Oates has written so much that I haven't read. Given the sampling I have, I would say it's all good. The only question would be choosing the titles that appeal to you, as she seems to be all over the place in subject and theme. Blonde will be the next of hers on my 'to read' list, as I've just noticed on the inside flap of The Tatooed Girl that it's a novel. For some reason I thought it was a Hollywood starlets bio of some kind. Hmmm, definitely, can't judge a book by it's title.

Sunday, March 14, 2004


Read the final page of Mark Fabi's Wyrm to discover in the brief author's bio at the back on the book that Fabi is a practicing psychiatrist. Is cyberpunk now that mainstream, or is it just now upstream. Anyway, a couple of ideas that were notable from the novel: ...just as the churches were intended to take the place of the older pagan holy places...the brain...structurally and functionally, the newer part of our brains like the neocortex cover over the older reptilian brain underneath, just like the old megaliths covered over by later churches. But the snake is still there, biding its time. And, emotions are a rather primitive form of communication that is essential in establishing and maintaining social interactions.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Richard Powers

Just mailed the above title to my little brother for his 40th birthday. We are a reading family. This novel is about the power of story to heal. One of the reasons I wrote my first novel, was writing fictionally is a way to talk about things that don't fit into ordinary, rational frames of reference. I've read all of Powers, though I haven't finished his Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance. Goldbug Variations was probably my favorite. It's about a librarian and the computer world, plus a mystery told via hindsight. Everything my little heart could desire. (Although I did give this book to a friend whose opinion I value and he didn't like it. Said it was too informative for his fiction tastes. Takes all kinds.) Galatea 2.2 was cyberpunkish though a little too dry to appeal to most cp fans.

The Time of Our Singing was slow going but about half-way through I became obsessed, especially as I have bi-racial extended family. Gain was a politically themed novel on environmental health issues. Liked it but it didn't make as big an impression as some of this others. Plowing the Dark was another cyberpunkish novel. Since I'm a devotee of the genre, I liked it immensely. Briefly, to recap the two cp novels, Plowing was virtual reality and Galatea was AI.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004


My dessert for the week is Mark Fabi's Wyrm. Very cool. With all the grief I get from our IT department about security, it's fun to read about "real" issues, like in the novel where a wyrm/virus type program has become sentient. Fabi raises questions of what makes for consciousness or how we define conscious awareness. I love books that make me think and entertain me at the same time. It's sort of like working vacations.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

One of the more interesting books I've read recently is Hallucinating Foucault. The author is Patricia Duncker. An appropriate title for the first post to this site, Duncker brings to life the love affair between writers and readers. I've almost finished another of hers, The Deadly Space Between, and am going to track down The Doctor as well. Reading for gourmands. Tastes like more.