ObDisclaimer: Just my opinions, I have no music degree, this is me analyzing music for my own benefit and I don't claim this will make sense to anyone else, comments/criticisms welcome.
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Meedja people wanted to film an interview with me in Former Place Of Work: this was supposed to happen next Monday, and ended up being today, this morning, before the facilities open to the public. (Greatly tempted to send The Famous Shirt on its own to do the job.) They did lay on a car to take me there. There was not a great deal of faffing about before we got to the, you know, actual interviewing.
This went fairly well, though I always suspect meedja luvvies to rave insincerely: this may be unfair.
I was fairly knackered after this, but yesterday I had an email from someone who wanted to discuss matters of mutual research interest, and was going to be visiting the Library today, so I said, could do coffee, or lunch, and we had a fairly intense and wide-ranging discussion of research over an extended lunch.
And when I got back to my desk, there was an enquiry from Another Meedja Person about a thing they're researching which is one that has (according to me) already been Done to Death, and they were very vague about what sort of angle they might be taking. But I thought I should at least get in a reply politely indicating that It's Been Done.
And then I came home, fully intending to rest for a bit and then go out again to the gym, but could not bring myself to leave the house again.
But at least I think I have done a fair amount of communicating Mi Learninz to people at various different levels today.
I continue to snag books out of my son’s Scholastic book order forms. One of the latest was Shadowshaper [Amazon | B&N | IndieBound], by Daniel José Older. It’s an enjoyable, relatively quick read. Here’s the summary:
Sierra Santiago planned to have an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes the first party of the season. Her stroke-ridden grandfather starts apologizing over and over. And when the murals in her neighborhood begin to weep real tears… Well, something more sinister than the usual Brooklyn ruckus is going on.
With the help of a mysterious fellow artist named Robbie, Sierra discovers shadowshaping, a thrilling magic that infuses ancestral spirits into paintings, music, and stories. But someone is killing the shadowshapers one by one — and the killer believes Sierra is hiding their greatest secret. Now she must unravel her family’s past, take down the killer in the present, and save the future of shadowshaping for herself and generations to come.
The “About the Author” section notes that Older lives in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, which is where the book takes place, and it shows. Sierra’s world feels real and fully developed, populated with interesting people and places. It’s a far cry from some of the generic pseudo-New York settings you sometimes get.
I love the concept of shadowshaping, the way the magic works as a collaboration between spirits and shadowshaper, and the possibilities of that power. One of my favorite scenes was watching Sierra discovering what she could do with a simple piece of chalk.
Sierra and the rest of the cast are great, all with their own personalities and flaws and conflicts. They feel like real people…it’s just that some of them can bring their artwork to life.
My only complaint is that the villain felt a bit flat and obvious. But the ideas behind that villain, the theme of the privileged cultural outsider barging in and making a mess of things, are totally valid and powerful. I wouldn’t want that to change; I just would have liked to see a little more depth to them.
And kudos for the awesome librarian.
I’ve seen a number of reviews praising the diversity in the book. On the one hand, I do think that’s worth recognizing, and I definitely appreciated it. On the other… I don’t know. I wish we could reach a point where we don’t have to praise authors for showing the world the way it is, and could instead just note when authors fail to portray a realistically diverse world. Does that make sense? I dunno…probably something that needs a longer blog post to unpack.
Anyway, to wrap this up, the ending was lovely and made me eager to read Shadowhouse Fall, which comes out in September of this year.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.