cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (book)
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When I traveled to Texas for my sister's wedding, I took two small, easy to transport paperbacks to keep me from fretting overmuch in the airports. One was Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros, which I believe is her second collection of poetry. The poems are short, so I plowed through about half the book before my brain felt too full of thrilling turns of phrase and genius word choices. The themes are repetitive--a little too fiery for my tastes, especially since they tend toward self-immolatory passions. Which sounds weird coming from me, but... Maybe without grounding context, the passion is too easy to read as melodrama, or romancing martydom? In any case, I'd be happy to finish the book eventually.

The other book was Tropic of Night by Michael Gruber, which was recommended at one of the many "How to (not) Write the Other" panels I've attended, as an example of a white writer doing all right by his POC characters and subject matter. Whereas some folks want an easy breezy read on vacation, I was hooked by the main characters' attention to details. I read a lot of this crime novel (it's no mystery who the murderer is, ever) when I wasn't at the airport; in fact, whenever I needed a break from socializing I picked it up. I'd read it before settling to sleep, too, which gave me a deliciously uncanny experience: I was actually a little unnerved after I turned out the light! I am a huge horror fan, and I'm almost never creeped out by books anymore, so this was a welcome surprise. The creep-out factor doesn't come from the gore, although there's a good amount of that, but because Gruber does an excellent job of showing how an intelligent, highly educated American woman's stubborn rationalism cedes to belief in ritual magic. As I said in my Goodreads review, I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Upon returning home, I returned to There Is No Lovely End by Patty Templeton. This is the Gothic Americana historical fantasy I've been wanting to read for YEARS. Patty's refreshing take on Sarah Winchester moves beyond the long-prevailing "sorrowing hysteric" caricature of the Widow Winchester and her insane house. Equally enthralling are Patty's original characters: criminal brothers Hennet and Walleye; the awful but kinda awesome hellion Hester (she prays neither to God nor the Devil but to HERSELF) and her besotted stalker, a dandy journalist who hangs himself to get her attention, then follows her around in ghost form for years; Hester's ghost-beloved but beleagured son Nathan who's targeted for murder almost the whole book through; traveling medicine man Reverend Enton Blake...not to mention all the animals and houses, all with their own personalities, living or dead. And Patty ties all the story threads together into a deeply satisfying conclusion. It may not be a Lovely End, but I loved it anyway.

No progress on On the Rim of Mexico, but Tweetie and I are continuing with The Fast and the Furriest.

A couple of online story recommendations:
excerpt from "Furious Angels," from the collection We Will All Go Down Together by Gemma Files. I was actually a little mad when I got to the end and remembered "Shit, yeah, excerpt." I definitely need the book now.

"The Husband Stitch" by Carmen Machado. A little funny, a little spooky with its callbacks to urban legends aplenty, sometimes sexy, a lot heartbreaking. It's one of those stories that looks so easy and yet, no one does it like Machado.

"Silent Snow, Secret Snow" by Conrad Aiken. Given my age, my first thought was "Any relation to Joan Aiken?" And yup, her father. This is a perfect creepy story for when the wind turns cold and winter lurks around the corner.

What do you look for in a vacation read? Or, if that's too far-afield for you right now, what are your favorite Halloween-y stories?
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