Nonrequired reading: Prose Pieces by Wislawa Szymborska

Andersen took children seriously. He speaks to them not only about life’s joyous adventures, but about its woes, its miseries, its often undeserved defeats. His fairy tales, peopled with fantastic creatures, are more realistic than whole tons of today’s stories for children, which fret about verisimilitude and avoid wonders like the plague. Andersen had the courage to write stories with unhappy endings. He didn’t believe that you should try to be good because it pays (as today’s moral tales insistently advertise, though it doesn’t necessarily turn out that way in real life), but because evil stems from intellectual and emotional stuntedness and is the one form of poverty that should be shunned.


From the author’s note:

I GOT THE IDEA OF writing Nonrequired Reading from the section called “Books Received” you find in many literary journals. It was easy to see that only a tiny percentage of the books listed later made their way to the reviewer’s desk.

At first I thought I’d be writing real reviews, that is, in each case I’d describe the nature of the book at hand, place it in some larger context, then give the reader to understand that it was better than some and worse than others. But I soon realized that I couldn’t write reviews and didn’t even want to. That basically I am and wish to remain a reader, an amateur, and a fan, unburdened by the weight of ceaseless evaluation. Sometimes the book itself is my main subject; at other times it’s just a pretext for spinning out various loose associations. Anyone who calls these pieces sketches will be correct. Anyone insisting on “reviews” will incur my displeasure. One more comment from the heart: I’m old-fashioned and think that reading books is the most glorious pastime that humankind has yet devised.




Her Left Hand, The Darkness by Alison Smith

I wanted to tell her that I had never before read an author who – fearlessly, eloquently – took society apart and held it up for me to examine…

She told me about writing…when no one expected you to write, when there was little support for a woman writer, had some advantages: ‘If no one is expecting much, it’s not hard to exceed their expectations.’

Alison Smith for Granta Magazine

Cover Reveal

Can’t wait for 2019 and the first romance novella from this team!

Cover by @ashley.e.shannon, who is currently selling premade Urban Fantasy, Young Adult, and Romance covers for great prices. If you want to pick up a nice end of the year bargain, send Ashley a DM!

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Seventh Annual Bisexual Book Awards

Congratulations to Mariëlle S. Smith and Sìne Màiri Ní Ailpín for the My Voice, My Story project.

“The Bisexual Book Awards gives publicity to books with bi themes and characters…preventing those books from falling through the cracks and alerting the bi+ audience and beyond to their existence”, says Bi Writers Association founder and director Sheela Lambert.Bisexual Voices FINAL - copia

You can also find the winners of the Bisexual Book Award listed on Goodreads.


Start the weekend as you mean to go: with a re-read.

Angel of the Blockade by Alex Wells

Nata spends her time zipping through the black in her ugly yet bad-ass spaceship, taking pride in being the best smuggler the Imperial regime has never caught. When she takes on an expensive mystery cargo, however, the risk reaches far beyond her pride.

“You’re a cheap asshole,” I call to Bara as I cross the threshold of the bar. I don’t have to wait for my Traveler to give me a rundown to know they’re there. Bara’s always there. Bara doesn’t sleep, shit, or fuck as far as I know.

The bar smells like old socks, sour beer, and just an edge of mustiness, which means the air filters are probably a couple weeks past due. Starting to go moldy, but not bad enough to actually give anyone a respiratory infection. It almost overwhelms the weird, dirty cinnamon scent that characterizes Corona Nine Station and never leaves the back of your throat once you’ve sucked in your first lungful.

“And you’re a sleazy shitbag,” Bara returns calmly. Their ident chip reads off to my Traveler as human, their voice—not too high, not too low—sounds like they’re speaking through a metal tube, and what those things add up to isn’t any of my fucking business. I like Bara, and Bara likes me, and that’s all that matters. “Business or boredom?”

The significance of plot without conflict

“In the West, plot is commonly thought to revolve around conflict: a confrontation between two or more elements, in which one ultimately dominates the other. The standard three- and five-act plot structures–which permeate Western media–have conflict written into their very foundations. A “problem” appears near the end of the first act; and, in the second act, the conflict generated by this problem takes center stage. Conflict is used to create reader involvement even by many post-modern writers, whose work otherwise defies traditional structure.

The necessity of conflict is preached as a kind of dogma by contemporary writers’ workshops and Internet “guides” to writing. A plot without conflict is considered dull; some even go so far as to call it impossible.

This has influenced not only fiction, but writing in general–arguably even philosophy. Yet, is there any truth to this belief? Does plot necessarily hinge on conflict? No. Such claims are a product of the West’s insularity. For countless centuries, Chinese and Japanese writers have used a plot structure that does not have conflict “built in”, so to speak. Rather, it relies on exposition and contrast to generate interest. This structure is known as kishōtenketsu.”

The rest of the essay here

Houston, Houston, do you read?

Making my way through the S.F. MASTERWORKS list:

Tiptree Jr., James, Her Smoke Rose Up Forever.

The novella Houston, Houston, do you read? was first published in, wow, 1976, in the anthology Aurora: Beyond Equality. It won a Nebula Award for Best Novella in 1976 and a Hugo Award for Best Novella in 1977.


                 “They were good men,” he says bitterly. “They aren’t bad men. You don’t know what bad means. You did it to them, you broke them down. You made them do crazy things. Was it interesting? Did you learn enough?” His voice is trying to shake. “Everybody has aggressive fantasies. They didn’t act on them. Never. Until you poisoned them.”

They gaze at him in silence. “But nobody does,” Connie says finally. “I mean, the fantasies.”

“They were good men,” Lorimer repeats elegiacally. He knows he is speaking for it all, for Dave’s Father, for Bud’s manhood, for himself, for Cro-Magnon, for the dinosaurs too, maybe. “I’m a man. By god, yes, I’m angry. I have a right. We gave you all this, we made it all. We built your precious civilization and your knowledge and comfort and medicines and your dreams. All of it. We protected you, we worked our balls off keeping you and your kids. It was hard. It was a fight, a bloody fight all the way. We’re tough. We had to be, can’t you understand? Can’t you for Christ’s sake understand that?

Another silence.

“We’re trying,” Lady Blue sighs. “We are trying, Dr. Lorimer. Of course we enjoy your inventions and we do appreciate your evolutionary role. But you must see there’s a problem. As I understand it, what you protected people from was largely other males, wasn’t it? We’ve just had an extraordinary demonstration in that. You have brought history to life for us.”

An acute, complex longing for the women he has known grips him. Women to whom men were not simply—irrelevant.



Halloween is for readers… — Clare London, Author

Do you enjoy reading MM books with a seasonal theme? Halloween isn’t just for pumpkins, ghosts, and horror trains. This season’s reads can also be spooky, scary, funny, sexy, weird, horrific, thoughtful, melodramatic, shocking, redeeming, and overall romantic… Whatever it means to you, whatever you like to read, come and take a look at the […]

via Halloween is for readers… — Clare London, Author