Every year (well, for the last three years, anyway), Elizabeth and I go to the Jersey Shore for vacation. She's from New Jersey, and I'm from Canada, which only really has "cottage country." The Shore and Canada's lakeland both boast sun, water, and slightly rustic ways of living, but they couldn't be more different. Nonetheless, both allow you to read books in gentle peace.
So, every year, when we go down to the Shore, I develop a sweet reading list. It's the one time of the year when I can literally sit and read for hours on end; not necessarily because my regular schedule doesn't allow me to, but because the beach, with its hot/cold alternations (i.e. sun and surf) is really the perfect environment for reading.
Inevitably, my reading list goes through many permutations. I get 90% of my books from the library, and those I don't I'm ordering from an online store because they're too obscure for any local shops to have in stock, which means I'm frequently waiting on something I've got on hold or something I've got on order. This means that my excitement goes up and down as weigh the various possibilities of my roster: I'll have some selections and swap them in and out as books come and go, slowly developing the sweetest possible pile of books. I even order the way I will read them in my read before I even crack a spine.
As I explained to Elizabeth's younger brother, who's a big football player, it's like I'm building my fantasy football team, only it's entirely fantasy.
So, yeah. Time to get to the story this blog post is actually theoretically about. I just got an email that Steph Swainston's "Above the Snowline" has arrived at the local library branch for me. I literally made this face:
Steph Swainston is by far the best "weird fantasy" writer. I remember when I got into this stuff, I read her name alongside Jeff VanderMeer and China Miéville (specifically they were being called "New Weird," but I think New Weird encompasses a lot of stuff that isn't "weird fantasy," so here I'm limiting myself to stuff that obviously falls in the same general tradition as Tolkien, only that instead of pleasant vales there's just generally absolute insanity like mushroom police and dream-eating moths); and although I was obsessed with those two gentlemen much more quickly, and though I still like both of them a lot, I can now, at the end of it, say most definitively that Steph Swainston does weird fantasy the best, by far. And that's why I made that face.
Because laying your hands on a book you really want to read is amazing.
(For the record, I also made this face for Joe Abercrombie's "Red Country" and Spinoza's "Ethics." Call me what you will.)
COME, PATSY. WE RIDE TO THE SHORE.