Posted by: Mish | October 6, 2009

Circumnavigated & Wishlist

I was trying not to open another book until I finished one of my current reads, which is why I postponed cracking Rosemary and Rue. I have the feeling that once I commence, I won’t be able to put it down. But a few days ago, I found myself unexpectedly involved with the Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making. Technically, I didn’t open a new book- just a browser. The online novel is one of Catherynne Valente’s latest projects, in which she adds a new chapter every Monday. It’s available for free, but donations won’t be denied.

In the tale with the all too short title, the Green Wind comes to take September to Fairyland because she seems “an ill-tempered and irascible enough child”. During her numerous adventures September meets a variety of colourful characters like the witches Hello and Goodbye and a Wyverary named A-thru-L who doesn’t know much about Fairyland’s capital, Pandemonium, because it begins with P. They correct her mortal misconceptions about friendly fairies and other such pleasantries while teaching her the land’s rules and regulations, such as how “the practice of alchemy is forbidden to all except young ladies born on Tuesdays”, “aeronautic locomotion is permitted only by means of Leopard or licensed Ragwort Stalk”, and “all traffic travels widdershins”.

“Latitude and Longitude turned smoothly towards each other, as though they were on pedestals. They began to bend and fold like staircases, reaching out for each other and interlocking, hand into hand, foot onto knee, arms akimbo. They moved mechanically in their strange circus dance, jerkily, joints swinging like dolls. The street shook a little, and then was still. Ever so briefly, Latitude and Longitude kissed, and when they parted, there was a space between their mouths just large enough for a Leopard carrying a Harsh Air and a little girl. All September could see on the other side were clouds.”

I’ve enjoyed the nine chapters navigated thus far. It’s fun, witty, academic, and reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland and other such stories while remaining original. A friend who pointed the novel out to me asked how it compares to Valente’s other works that I’ve read. I think the first thing I said was, “different”. It’s far closer to a G-rating than Palimpsest or “the Ballad of the Sinister Mr. Mouth” in that it’s less macabre and challenging. Whether that will change further on, I won’t try to guess because Valente is full of surprises. Her poetic prose and use of language weaves a spell around the reader. As I admitted to said friend shortly after WorldCon, I love her brain.

…And…because their works are often intertwined and it’s difficult to mention one and not the other, SJ Tucker wrote “September’s Rhyme” to accompany chapter 1. I think now’s a good time to blame Sooj for adding to my reading pile. Really, it’s the tricky pixie’s fault. I ain’t complainin’, merely sayin’.


Musing Monday‘s topic was about wish lists and if they’re kept and shared. About 90% of the time I purchase books for myself so my list is more for me than anyone. It’s pretty rare for someone to surprise me with a book, I think the last time was two summers ago. From the Dread Pile o’Reads, these are the books that have been lusted after the longest or shoved their way to the top of the list:

  • James Endredy: Ecoshamanism
  • Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett: Good Omens
  • Neil Gaiman: Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
  • Robert Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land
  • Moises Kaufman: Gross Indecency- the Three Trials of Oscar Wilde
  • Mercedes Lackey: Foundation
  • Jennifer 8. Lee: the Fortune Cookie Chronicles
  • Michael Pollan: The Omnivore’s Dilemma
  • Rebecca Stein: Anthropology of Religion, Magic, and Witchcraft
  • Catherynne Valente: the Orphan’s Tales, I & II
  • Roger Zelazny: Changeling


  1. I quite want to read Stranger In A Strange Land as well, and I’ve heard a lot of good things about Good Omens in the last week or so, so that’s definitely on my list.

    Hmm, a book reminiscent of Alice In Wonderland? You’ve caught my attention…

  2. Stranger in a Strange Land was REALLY GOOD, interesting in many ways, hard to put down, and I’ll probably read it again. I finally read Good Omens and it was good. A friend said it makes more sense if one’s familiar with Revelations so I may read it to fill in some of the blanks. Have you read Circumnavigated? I got distracted so still haven’t finished it.

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