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Reading to retreat, recharge, and resist

by Jonathan 0 Comments

The last three months have been a rollercoaster, to say the least. In order to maintain some semblance of sanity I’ve turned to reading even more than usual.

I’ve been trying to hone my short story skills more. Normally I listen to podcasts, but as of late I’ve turned to some collections on my shelves. The two listed below have a nice array of stories and that may be part of the problem. I get pulled into the stories and forget to evaluate them critically. That’s good for the authors, not so good for my learning. Still, I’ll read on and enjoy if nothing else.


And this:


I’ve got to keep one foot in “reality” and am doing so by reading this. I can’t recommend The Devil’s Chessboard enough. I’m about two thirds through and, so far, it’s providing and pretty good background into the shaping of the CIA in the wake of World War II. If you’re paying attention, decisions from 60+ years ago are reverberating strongly today.


Last, but definitely not least, I’ve been enjoying the hell out of We Are Not Good People by Jeff Somers. I’m not all that enamored with Urban Fantasy, but the tone of the story, the character development and the magic have be sucked right in. I’ve read some Richard Kadrey, Neil Gaiman, Jim Butcher, and probably some others and I would put this up there with American Gods and Neverwhere, broadly speaking. Anyway, we’ll see how it ends but I’m all in.


In addition to reading, I’ve been working on a couple of short stories. Not surprisingly, they reflect some of the issues we are dealing with on a daily basis. With some elbow grease, these will find a home in the short fiction marketplace.


Lastly, a shout out to This is Horror and The Outer Dark podcasts (currently enjoying The Outer Dark’s State of the Weird episode. Sooo good.) These shows get me through all the local miles I travel taking my daughter to school, running to the store, etc. Fully entertaining and smart.

That is all. Be well and take care of yourselves.


Three Rip-Roaring Good Reads

If you’re looking for a few books that beg to be plowed through, here are a few that fit the bill. I had almost forgotten what it was like to tear through page after glorious page staying up late to find out what happens next.

The best part? There’s more to these books than just compelling story lines. Each is a reflection of our current existence and the oddities/frustrations/questions that go with it.

But rather than me trying to tell you, here’s the list. Go and read for yourself.


Under the Empyrean Sky

A lovely story of the heartland set in a world of genetically modified crops and wealth inequality gone horribly awry. Part of the Heartland Trilogy by Chuck Wendig. The second book, Blightborn, just came out today.




Unease. Insidious. Lingering. Strange. Annihilation conjures all these feelings and more. The first book in the Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer. The second book, Authority, is already out and the final book, Acceptance is out this fall.




Max Barry’s novel about the power of words hit the mark for me. Inventive, disjointed and fun. Bonus: Once you’ve read Lexicon, go take this quiz. It’ll leave you … well, wondering.

So get out there. Read. Have fun.

Edward Abbey or China Mieville?


Alright, who wrote this?

“…oil refineries appear, catalytic cracking plants, a thicket of pipes and stacks with flare-off fires brighter than the sunlight. Nostril-prickling smells float on the air, sly and sinister. Factory buildings of rusty red sheet metal, their windows broken, stand next to foundries and blast furnaces with brick chimneys sixty eighty feet a hundred feet high. Near each clanging workshop is a settling pond, a tailings dump, a slime pit filled with oily sludge, toxic solvents, pathogenic chemicals, black tars and industrial vomit roiled together in a marbled arabesque of brilliant, unforeseeable colors …

You guessed it: Edward Abbey.

Could be something right out of New Crobuzon though, eh?