Thursday, October 23, 2014

What did you eat yesterday?

Like "What are you reading now?", it's a great question.

Once, when I moved to a different village and got a new doctor, he asked me, "What did you eat yesterday?" at the initial appointment. I said, "Uhhhh, yesterday's not a great example." He said, "Yeah, exactly. That's why I don't say 'describe your diet'. What did you eat yesterday, Catriona?"
I liked him a lot.

In the same way, "Who are your favourite writers?" gets a lot of Balzac, while "What are you reading now?" gets more Billingham. (Because some people are pseuds, not because Mark's not fab, by the way.)

I'd also add "And how long have you been reading it, and how many times have you abandoned it to inhale a thriller, and if you had to bet your own money if you'd ever finish it, how high would you go?"

So. What am I reading now? Actually, I'm reading magic realism, counterfactual history and a volume of short stories. Pretty high Balzac rating, eh?

In detail:

1. A pdf of an ARC of Jessica Lourey's delicious upcoming magic realism* novel THE CATALAIN BOOK OF SECRETS. It's being published under Jessie's own steam via Kickstarter and she's almost there.

*Was it Terry Pratchett who said magic realism could be defined as "fantasy by people who speak Spanish"? I like to think so. Part of the joy of reading this book - as well as the characters, secrets, wordsmithing and Minnesota, which is my favourite place I've never been - is trying to work out what magic realism is. I'm still not sure, except that I think Harry Potter must have been it. And Sookie Stackhouse. In fact, if I was pressed, I'd say magic realism is fantasy where people are called Jasmine instead of Qwon'droth.

2. JACK 1939  by Francine Mathews, for moderating at Bouchercon. (I love my job.) It's a historical thriller that sees a young JFK spying for Roosevelt in Europe just before WWII. I'm googling a lot because my knowledge of the period from a US perspective isn't quite strong enough to see what's counterfactual and what isn't, but I'm loving it. It's like Nancy Mitford crossed with Harlan Coben crossed with John LeCarre. And that's not something that comes along every day.

3. WORKING STIFFS by Simon Wood, for interviewing him at Bouchercon. I don't normally read a lot of short stories; they make me feel as if I've set off on a long walk and immediately stepped off a cliff. It might be because I tend to read for long stretches at one sitting and short stories are best read one at a time. I must say, though - these are great. I'm not surprised Simon's been such an award-botherer for his shorts. It's kind of sickening to read a plot you just know you'd have made a novel out of it and yet there he is just tossing it over his shoulder on a ten-page story. Plenty more where that came from, I can hear him say. Big show-off.


Unknown said...

I am laughing out loud in a waiting room as I read this, laughing at your perfect descriptions of a things. I am envious. Also, I am not 100% on a definition for magical realism, except it's different than fantasy because there is no world building. The magic is plopped right down inside your neighborhood cafe.

Lori Rader-Day said...

"Award-botherer" is the best phrase.

Catriona McPherson said...

Fantasy without the world-building! Now why didn't someone just say that?

Susan C Shea said...

Happy belated birthday, Catriona! I love your description of the wastefulness of short story plots. Last year I read 134, or was it 137, as a jury member of a competition and was finished with the format forever by the time I was done.