Friday, August 6, 2010

Vacation Reading List

We are in the last stage of summer, now. I can smell the "end" in the air: a mix of freshly-cut alfalfa, liquefied manure spread on shorn fields, and the mist of mosquito spray...

I am gathering up my books and papers to take to the cottage in far northern Wisconsin, and for the sake of my marriage, I am not taking anything post-apocalyptic. Hubby says it's making me a bit ... shall we say, nuts. I read Paolo Bacigalupi's most recent book Ship Breaker, as well as The Windup Girl. Both are set in a near-future where there's very little food and the gap between rich and poor has widened even further (in the case of the former), and where what food there is has been genetically engineered by huge megacorps that have in turn spawned unstoppable mega-bugs that kill off the crops and cause mass famine (in the case of the latter). Coming as this does on the heels of my teaching Food, Inc.and Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, I'd say that Bacigalupi has hit the right nerve. I now have nightmares about our garden getting fungus and giant bugs.

So my vacation reading list:
  • Dracula Bram Stoker (re-read)
  • Snow Crash Neal Stephenson (re-read)
  • The Anubis Gates Tim Powers (re-read)
  • In Defense of Food Michael Pollan (finish for class)
Plus whatever else I can find that's halfway interesting when I finally get to BookWorld in Minocqua. If they have George Mann's new book The Osiris Ritual (steampunk), I'll be getting that. Gail Carriger's third book in the Parasol Protectorate, Blameless, doesn't come out until 8/31, which is inconvenient for my vacation plans. William Gibson's new book Zero History doesn't come out til September 7th so I'll have to cram that in while I'm getting the semester underway. He'll be at Borders on Michigan Ave. in Chicago on 9/17 so I'll have to see if I can get down there for that.

I'm also taking my notebooks so that I can keep scribbling ideas for my own book. I've discovered that sitting on the pontoon boat in the sun does wonders for my overall attitude about life, and when I'm in a better frame of mind, I can take my post-apocalyptic nightmares and turn them into something useful.

My protagonist has a name and I'm beginning to get the history together. In spite of having my chapbook summarily rejected last week, I'm feeling pretty good about my prospects for getting some work out there, and even though I've overloaded my brain with dystopic visions of the future (again), I'm feeling hopeful that we'll find a way out of the mess. The involuntary media-fast I'll be on (no cable, no internet, spotty phone service) means that I'll be able to focus without getting angry at the BS that currently passes for new-media journalism coverage of climate change, the oil spill, wheat shortages in Russia, and the Tea Party's unsurpassed arrogance and stupidity.

Be well, my friends.  

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