alisa alering

Writer of fantasy and other fictions


Recommended Books about California

California is not a place well-known to me. I once went to San Francisco in August and took only summer clothes. From the daze of my hypothermia I remember burritos in  Berkeley, mopeds downtown, and worrying that the wind on the Golden Gate Bridge would blow my glasses right off my nose.

Right now I am reading April Smith’s North of Montana, set in LA. There is a real feel for place, which is 50% of the reason for reading any mystery. Today I came across a list of books chosen by author Lisa See that illuminate different aspects of the Californian geo-character. Except for the James Ellroy, I’d never heard of any of them before, and now want to read all of them. That’s a darn good book list.

Also check out See’s books, if you haven’t already. I really enjoyed her ‘Red Princess’ mysteries, featuring Lui Hulan, an agent for China’s Ministry of Public Security. I’ve been a bit disappointed with her swerve into book club territory with Snow Flower & the Secret Fan and Peony in Love, but admit to having an ARC of Shanghai Girls on my to-read pile right now.

I wanted to include a See’s slideshow of ‘Shanghai Girls’ here as a bonus, but making that work is giving me more grief than I feel I deserve on a Friday afternoon, so if you’re interested, you’re going to have to mosey over to Flickr all by yourself.

1 Comment

A new leaf

I’ve been gone a long time. Tri-state visit to the East Coast: MD, PA, & NY. I learned that a backyard in Brooklyn on a Saturday night can seem like a quiet Pennsylvania town, but there’s still sugarcane for sale 6 blocks away.

It was turkey hatching season in PA and it seemed like everyday we scared out a turkey, fifty feed ahead jerking down the path like a robot jogger. One day there was a cracked turkey egg, all speckled brown and leaky embryo.

I had some bad writing news (rejection) and some good writing news (scholarship). The rejection hit me pretty hard. I took the dog out for a walk up the mountain, and among the gnats and ferns, thought it was probably really stupid of me to ever have thought I could write anything and I would probably write and write for my whole life and still just be an embarrassing, boring mess. Rejection still feels the same, but I recover quicker. 24 hours instead of 6 months.

Being away from home is a good time to plan your wholesome new life. I plan to go back to Fang-Fang. I plan to read more short stories. I plan to be a better person, have a cleaner house, be kinder to the leper cat (Squeaky, you know who you are), work less, write more, eat fewer chocolate chips straight out of the 10-pound Sam’s Club bag, and pull the weeds in my garden.

It’s a long drive from Indiana to Central PA. I am thankful for audiobooks and vegetable roll sushi from the Kroger in Athens, OH.