NaNoWriMo update and What I’ve Read

November 30th, 2022Posted by Nancy

First up, Nanowrimo. I set the usual goal of 10,000 words and managed 10,095 despite being away for a few days. The usual caveats apply: I don’t know what I’m doing, half of the words will/should be cut, blah, blah, blah. My goal for December is to nail down the mechanics of the ending and, with luck, actually write it. Then I should have an acceptably shitty first draft done.

On to less fraught topics – what I’ve been reading since the cottage trip. Here are some of my favourites.


Lampedusa, Steven Price. I loved this book, which is a fictionalized account of Guiseppe di Lampedusa’s life while he’s writing his classic novel The Leopard. Beautiful prose, fascinating characters, the angst of writing, the angst of life. It’s wonderful.

The Leopard, Guiseppe di Lampedusa. Well, of course, I had to then read the book itself. I quite liked it, despite some initial trepidation. It’s beautifully written and slyly funny. I found myself reading particularly droll passages aloud to my husband, which is always a good sign.

Siren Queen, Nghi Vo. Silver Screen Hollywood as run by the fey. Maybe. I was particularly impressed by how subtly she revealed the existence of magic and the nature of the bargains made by the studios for power.

Learwife, J.R. Thorpe. The string of “my God, this is soooo good” continued with this one. I was so blown away by the prose that I actually had write some of the most incredible passages down for inspiration. The narrator is bitter, clever, raw, cruel, loving, and altogether unforgettable. I admit that I also have a weakness for cantankerous old women in convents, so this was definitely my thing.

The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes, Cat Sebastian. On a lighter note, this historical romance romp was pure pleasure.

You Let Me In, Camilla Bruce. Yet another cantankerous narrator and great prose. A successful but reclusive writer disappears and two years later her heirs must read the memoir she leaves them and decide if they want their inheritance. Were all violent, tragic deaths in her past the result of her lifelong relationship with the fey or is she just mentally ill? Another one that impressed me.


SHY: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers, Mary Rodgers and Jesse Green. Composer of ‘Once Upon a Mattress’. Writer of ‘Freaky Friday’. Daughter of famed Broadway composer Richard Rodgers. Funny and honest, Mary spills the dirt on bad parents, lovers (good and bad), husbands (good and bad), music (a bit of both), sex, life in the New York theatre world. With appearances by Stephen Sondheim, Hal Prince, Carol Burnett, Leonard Bernstein, and anyone who was anyone at that time. Collaborator Green weighs in with footnotes to provide more information and sometimes corrections.

An Immense World, Ed Yong. I told everyone I met to read this. It explores the senses that animals use to understand the world and how they compare to our own. Completely fascinating and a timely reminder that the world is a complex and marvelous place that we need to protect.

What We Owe The Future, William MacAskill. After reading an article about Effective Altruism and Longtermism, I figured I should try this book to get a better understanding of it. I remain unconvinced that the happiness of billions of people who could in theory exist in the future (in computers! in space! Hey, it’s the Singularity!) is more important than the lives of people who exist right now. Also, the argument that wild animals live short lives of danger and hardship (gee, Will, did you ask them? Or ask Ed Yong?) and therefore we shouldn’t worry about them because they’re not adding to the net happiness of the universe is ridiculous.

Street Without Joy: The French Debacle in Indochina, Bernard B. Fall. Sometimes books show up from my library reserves and I’ve completely forgotten why I put them on the list in the first place. This was one of those books, but it turned out to be a fascinating book from the 1970s about the disaster of the French war in Vietnam and how the Americans promptly made all of the same mistakes. I’m pretty sure I got the recommendation from Twitter, which is another reason I’ll miss it if it implodes.

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