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books and reading

Topics About Which I Know Nothing

Patrick Ness is one of my favorite authors. As I’ve said before, you really just never know what you’re going to get with him. I’ve also reviewed a lot of his works like And The Ocean Was Our┬áSky, The Rest of Us Just Live┬áHere, Release, More Than This, and Chaos Walking. I think there’s only one book of his that I haven’t read. And even though his books are really diverse and none are like the others, his writing is top-notch and creative. I’ve enjoyed them all.

This book was actually a short story collection, which I’m usually not a fan of. I really like a good long plot and development. And these stories were good, but only one was exceptional- “Gifted.” My fondness for it might have been because I used to teach middle school gifted kids, like the class in the story, and we did problem-based learning, also like the story. There were definitely the over-achiever, teacher-pleaser kids, and the cynical, distant kid. Ness got these stereotypes totally correct. The story was fun and dark and took my by surprise.

The rest of the stories were fine. I’m sure they appeal to short story fans, but it’s just not my thing. Overall, a nice collection to Ness’s works. I will continue to read anything by him.

Categories
books and reading

Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls

I read Tampa, by Alissa Nutting, some time ago. And as hard as the story was to read, I was absolutely blown away by it. In Tampa, the main character is a middle school teacher who is obsessed with one of her students. She begins a sexual relationship with him. She is clearly a pedophile, preying on young men, but Nutting writes her so vividly and thoroughly, that even though you know what she is doing is beyond reprehensible, you feel badly for her because she lives such a miserable life. Tampa is a book that has stayed with me ever since I first read it.

Because I enjoyed Tampa so much, I wanted to read more of Nutting’s work, so I grabbed this short story collection, which (according to Goodreads) appears to be her only other published work. One is forthcoming in 2017, though. I admit that I’m not a huge short story fan. I can handle one here or there, but overall, I enjoy novels much more. That said, I really liked this collection a lot. The stories are all very adult oriented, namely sex in space, injecting ants into your body in the future, watching garden gnomes have sex (I loved this one, actually), going to Hell, and confronting the ghost of your mother.

I look forward to reading more from Nutting. I’ve been very impressed with how she handles taboo and unpleasant topics with care and, oftentimes, humor. To write such a varied collection of short stories shows her creativity and imagination knows no bounds. I highly recommend both of her books.