Monday, September 2, 2013

Not too late for summer reading. How about genre fiction?

With H U G E thanks to my brother Mike for the gift and recommendation of Connie Willis' Doomsday Book,  Hugo and Nebula winner and a book that I could not put down but had to, as it was too hot at night for my reading light.  When anyone tries to tell you there is no such thing as climate change, send them to Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico or Colorado, among other places, during the past week or the week ahead.  Steamed artichokes, that's what we are, pilfering from other budgets to allow air conditioning to run as long as it must.  But I digress.

It would be too easy for me to become a spoiler for this novel which transcends genre, though its action is based on time travel and opens in Oxford, 2054.  The specific past in which a young historian has been, as they say, dropped and a parallel present share the pages here, pages that Connie Willis says took her five years to write.  I can well imagine.  The 14th century and a time 40 years from now are equally (what do reviewers usually say) riveting, engrossing, absorbing.  Yes, absorbing, one of those tales that you wish could go on forever, yet you can scarcely breathe, needing to find out what happens.

This has been a good year for Hugo/Nebula winners, beginning with another of my brother's finds, Among Others by Jo Walton.  And hearing my lament at having finished Doomsday Book, my son suggested and loaned The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, also a dual Hugo and Nebula-award winner which I have just started and which holds considerable promise.

Thinking of - and enjoying - genre fiction reminds me that Michael Chabon has multiple awards to his credit, including the Pulitzer for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay which is about comic books, among many other things.  He is another dual Hugo and Nebula winner for The Yiddish Policemen's Union, a revised history of Alaska and Jewish refugees which, easy prey that I am, had me wondering how there was such a significant part of our modern past about which I knew nothing.  Then I reminded myself - Hugo and Nebula, not non-fiction.  Chabon also expresses his thoughts about writers being being given a genre label and consigned to lesser status in the literary world in Maps and Legends, essays about, as he calls it, "reading and writing along the borderlands."

For any who wish to plunge deeper into the giants whose books have won both the Hugo and Nebula awards, here is a blog post and list.  How many have you read?


beth coyote said...

Thanks, reading When Women Had Wings, the latest from Terry Tempest Williams. A gorgeous book.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Beth - I looked up your book on Amazon and I can understand the appeal - the notion of all the journals, blank. If you ever feel like it, I'd like to know more. Summer and reading have always gone together for me, walking home from the library with a stack of books. Heaven. xo