I thought it would be cute to start a little monthly series where I talk about what I’m reading. I already post mini-reviews on Twitter when I finish a book, but I often feel like I have my most relevant thoughts on stories and non-fiction when I’m in the middle of them. So I thought, why not have both?
The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice (en Español)
I’m loving the sequel to Anne Rice’s bestselling classic, Interview With the Vampire, just as much as the original. However there is a certain heavy, languid quality to her prose, which means I have to read it a bit slower than I would normally go. I think, having just come off the back of Sapiens, I’m a bit put off by the prospect of reading such a long book. I do just love her characters, though.
Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
This is my first Terry Pratchett novel. I know, I know, fake fantasy fan etc. The thing is, Discworld is one of those series that seems almost impossible to enter as a newcomer. Everyone you ask has a different opinion on where you should start. It wasn’t helped by the fact that my uncle bought me a Pratchett book, Making Money, which is not only a sequel to a previous book, but also renowned as one of the weaker entries.
There’s something about Terry Pratchett’s humour that is a bit difficult to grasp at first…But I really appreciate how hard and fast he is with the world building. It makes me think I should be less serious with my own fantasy world, and maybe even go for full comedy like this.
Estona Soveta Poezio (Estonian Soviet Poetry), translated into Esperanto by Hilda Dresen
A weird one, I know. I picked this up for free the last time I taught a course at the Esperanto Association of Britain. They have a set of big bookshelves with secondhand books that are in too poor quality to resell, hence the shabby state of this book.
I’m loving this, because it’s the kind of thing I can only really read in Esperanto. You would think English, being the world’s biggest language, would be the best source of obscure translated foreign works, but because the market for this kind of thing is so small, it would probably never get published. Whereas in Esperanto, there’s a wider source of cultural backgrounds and much more interest in hearing quieter voices in the literary landscape.
In terms of actual quality this is a mixed bag. Generally the language use is very capable, but this is more to do with the translation than the original. There’s lots and lots of nature references, which I find difficult enough in English, let alone Esperanto. Every now and then, there’s a poem about how dandy Lenin is, which is a bit funny in a modern context. There are a few poems that have really stood out to me, which I will save for future use and reference.
Emily Reed is a writer and academic on videogames, who raises the medium above its usual testosteroney tedium with thought-provoking pieces. JRPGs are dead has similarly deep dives into the world of game development, from an admittedly cynical perspective, but equally a refreshing one in a world where video game fans have essentially turned into free marketing arms for a billion dollar industry. Also the title is piquant.