Books Finished in January

1. A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
2. Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente
3. Links: A Collection of Short Stories by Kaylia M. Metcalfe
4. Ancient, Ancient: Short Fiction by Kiini Ibura Salaam

Total for the year: 4

Favorite Read:
Palimpsest was complex and lyrical and wonderful.

Books Still in Progress at the End of the Month:
Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon. I thought I’d be done by now, but it’s fascinating and fact heavy, which is why it’s taking me so long to read.


1. A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A Study in Scarlet is both Doctor Watson’s and the world’s first introduction to the frustrating, arrogant, and brilliant Sherlock Holmes. Watson in seeking a new flat to in which to live ends up paired with the consulting detective at 22B Baker Street. While at first Sherlock’s profession and strange behavior is a mystery to the Doctor, he soon finds himself following Sherlock along in seeking out the truth behind the mysterious death of an American traveler. While I didn’t like it as much as I enjoyed the tales in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the novel is short and a quick read with a compelling mystery.

2. Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente

Discussed elsewhere.

3. Links: A Collection of Short Stories by Kaylia M. Metcalfe

The story stories in Links look at the way humans long for connection in the world and often fail to achieve that connection through bad luck or personal flaws. Most of the stories are good with sparse, clean prose. Though there were two with endings so bleak, I hated them).

Since I like to focus on the positive, here are the four I liked most.

“Angel” was a surprising and powerful story about a young man who spends his free time time begging for change he doesn’t need. The story shocked me the way brought to people together in a moment of collision.

In “Aside” an estranged mother and daughter try to find connection during a car ride is a simple tale, presenting lovely character sketches. Wonderfully bitter sweet.

“Surface Dweller” is about a woman who goes home with an art student to see her art and have a one night stand. But it turns out the art student keeps a frightening secret hidden in her bedroom. A subtly fantastical tale.

“Wife” is one of two speculative tales in the collection, presenting a women is trying to fit into her assigned role as new Wife despite past sorrows. Though, it’s presents a bleak society with little to no freedom, the story manages to be subtly hopeful.

4. Ancient, Ancient: Short Fiction by Kiini Ibura Salaam

In Ancient, Ancient, Kiini Ibura Salaam presents one of the most inventive and creative collection of science fiction and fantasy stories that I’ve read in a long time. I hardly even know how to describe some of these stories without giving everything away, the worlds and universes presented are so unique. Salaam’s writing often has a sensuality to it, which is quite lovely.

While I didn’t connect with all of the stories, here are the ones I loved.

“Pod Rendezvous” was my favorite story in the collection. Laki feels trapped by her fate of having to join a mother-unit and decides to throw a last hurrah party in the Velvet Stretch, while her sister Se-Se works feverishly to help Laki find an escape. It’s a smart and moving coming of age story in set a strange future (or maybe an alternate world altogether). I resonated quite a bit with both Laki and Se-Se.

“Desire” is the story of a woman named Sené who has an encounter with the god of desire, Faru. As with any encounter with the gods, it has wonderful and dangerous results. This is a poetically written and superbly sensual tale.

I also loved “Debris,” in which a family skeletal beings take a visit to the earth during Día de Los Muertos celebrations. I can’t say more without giving the entire story away, so I’ll just say that I loved it.

The titular story, “Ancient, Ancient,” is one of the shortest in the collection. It tells the story of an ancient being awakening through the body of a young woman. Though short, it is packed with layers of imagery in a rather poetic fashion, making it just as fulfilling as many a longer tale.

“Battle Royale” is the story of a young man who is punished by his grandfather for taking part in a semi-dangerous set of games involving dancing through a mock battle. The punishment involves the young man being forced to experience the lives and deaths of several people faced with subservience and slavery in history, each one stranger and more brutal than the last. This was so strange, powerful, moving, and I wanted so much more. I found myself both loving the story and being unsatisfied with the ending. All I can say is that I hope she continues the story elsewhere.