[Plura-list] Kelly Link's "Book of Love"

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Tue Feb 13 09:14:55 EST 2024

Read today's issue online at: https://pluralistic.net/2024/02/13/the-kissing-song/

Today's links

* Kelly Link's "Book of Love": A deceptively quirky tale with rusty razors at its core.

* Hey look at this: Delights to delectate.

* This day in history: 2004, 2009, 2014, 2019, 2023

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current writing projects, current reading.


🤮 Kelly Link's "Book of Love"

Kelly Link is one of science fiction's most important writers, a master of the short story to rank with the likes of Ted Chiang. For a decade, Kelly's friends have traded whispers that she was working on a novel - a *giant* novel - and the rumors were true and the novel is glorious and you will *love it*:



It's called *The Book of Love* and it's *massive* - 650 pages! It is *glorious*. It is *tricky*.

If you've read Link's short stories (which honestly, you *must* read), you know her signature move: a bone-dry witty delivery, used to spin tales of deceptive whimsy and quirkiness, disarming you with daffiness while she sets the hook and *yanks*. That's the unmistakeable, inimitable texture of a Kelly Link story: deft literary brushstrokes, painting a picture so charming and silly that you don't even notice when she cuts you without mercy.

Turns out that she can quite handily do this for *hundreds of pages*, and the effect only gets *better* when it's given space to unfold.

Hard to tell you about this one without spoilers! But I'll tell you this much. It's a story about three teenaged friends who return from death and find themselves in the music room at their high school, face to face with their mild-mannered music teacher, Mr Anabin. Anabin explains what's happened in frustratingly cryptic - and very emphatic - terms, but is interrupted when a sinister shape-shifting wolf enters the music room.

This is Bogomil, and whenever he speaks, Mr Anabin turns his back - and vice versa. Anabin and Bogomil appear to be rivals, and Bogomil may or may not have been the keeper of the land of the dead from which the three have escaped. There's also a forth, a tattered shade who's been dead so long they don't remember who they are or anything about themselves. Bogomil would like to take the four back to the deadlands, but Anabin proposes a contest and Bogomil agrees - but no one explains the contest or its rules (or even its stakes) to the four dead teenagers.

That's the wind up. The pitch that follows is flawless, a long and twisting mystery about friendship, love, queerness, rock-and-roll, stardom, parenthood, loyalty, lust and duty. There's a terrifying elder god of Lovecraftian proportions. There are ghosts upon ghosts. There are ancient grudges. There are sudden revelations that come from unexpected angles but are, in retrospect, *perfectly* set up.

More than anything, there are characters. It's impossible not to love Link's characters, despite (because of) their self-destructive choices and their impossible dilemmas. They are so *sweet*, but they are also by turns *mean* and spiteful and resentful, like the pinch of salt that transforms a caramel from inedible spun sugar into something that bites even as it delights.

These characters, so very likable, are often dead or at death's door, and that peril propels the story like an unstoppable locomotive. From the very start, it's clear that some of them *can't* survive to the end, and Link is merciless in making you root for all of them, even though this means rooting *against* them all. This, in turn, creates moments of toe-curling, sublime horror.

Link has built a complex machine with more moving parts than anyone has any business being able to keep track of. And yet, each of these parts meshes flawlessly with all the others. The book ends with such triumphant perfection that it lingers long after you put it down. I can't wait to read this one again.


🤮 Hey look at this

* Apple Is Lobbying Against Right to Repair Six Months After Supporting Right to Repair https://www.404media.co/apple-is-lobbying-against-right-to-repair-again/

* Blowing the Door Off Boeing’s ‘Epstein Deal’ https://prospect.org/justice/2024-02-09-boeing-max-doj-epstein-deal/

* RSS Parrot https://rss-parrot.net/


🤮 This day in history

#20yrsago danah boyd’s social networks talk from ETCON https://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2004/02/11/my_etech_talk_revenge_of_the_user.html#004027

#20yrsago Harlan Ellison’s AOL/Time-Warner suit https://web.archive.org/web/20040901000000*/http://lawgeek.typepad.com/lawgeek/2004/02/9th_circuit_wro.html

#20yrsago Google is Harder Than it Looks ETCON talk notes https://craphound.com/googleetcon04.txt

#20yrsago Emotional Design: The Principles ETCON talk notes https://craphound.com/normanetcon04.txt

#20yrsago My ETCON talk, in the Public Domain https://craphound.com/ebooksneitherenorbooks.txt

#15yrsago Apple sez jailbreaking iPhones is illegal and should be banned https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/02/apple-says-jailbreaking-illegal

#15yrsago RIP, Atomic Ed Grothus, curator and proprietor of the Black Hole of Los Alamos https://web.archive.org/web/20090213231519/http://wps.com/archives/EdGrothus/

#15yrsago Hard data on ebook piracy versus sales — slides from O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing panel https://archive.org/details/ChallengingNotionsOffree

#15yrsago FDR: Time-travelling destroyer of economies https://prospect.org/article/country-run-idiots./

#15yrsago Kansas Representative introduces anti-netroots campaign finance reform bill https://web.archive.org/web/20090216145249/http://seantevis.com/weblog/story/my-response-to-house-bill-no-2244-aka-the-sean-tevis-bill/

#15yrsago EFF asks the FTC to protect the public from Digital Rights Management https://www.eff.org/files/filenode/DRM/drmcomments_final.pdf

#15yrsago Neil Gaiman waxes sensible on Kindle Audiobooks and the redonkulous Author’s Guild https://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/02/quick-argument-summary.html

#15yrsago Salmonella Peanut CEO won’t eat his own peanuts, cites Fifth Amendment https://www.mprnews.org/story/2009/02/11/peanut-co-owner-refuses-to-testify-to-congress

#15yrsago Why the EVE Online industrial espionage econopocalypse is “fun” https://www.raphkoster.com/2009/02/11/the-eve-upset/

#10yrsago Chinese-language Bing searches in the USA censored to match mainland Chinese results https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/feb/11/bing-censors-chinese-language-search-results

#10yrsago The Coruscant Tapestry: 30′ long Star Wars cross-stitchhttps://web.archive.org/web/20140222222211/https://nineteeneightyeight.com/products/aled-lewis-the-coruscant-tapestry

#10yrsago Militant commander accidentally blows up dozens of trainee suicide bombers https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/suicide-bomber-kills-suicide-bomers

#5yrsago Police lobbyist: cops will not be motivated to stop crime unless they are allowed to steal people’s stuff https://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/news/taken/2019/02/03/sc-civil-forfeiture-police-defend-practice-say-funds-essential-law-enforcement/2746412002/

#5yrsago Courthouse shut after sheriff notices bedbugs “falling out of” lawyer’s clothes https://www.3newsnow.com/news/national/oklahoma-lawyer-with-bed-bugs-falling-out-of-clothing-causes-county-courthouse-to-close

#5yrsago Thomas Piketty explains how Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax is American as apple pie https://www.lemonde.fr/blog/piketty/2019/02/12/wealth-tax-in-america/#xtor=RSS-32280322

#5yrsago After promising health care execs that Medicare for All was dead, Pelosi’s team plans toothless pharma deal https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2019/02/pelosi-advisor-proposes-non-binding-arbitration-road-lowering-drug-prices.html

#5yrsago Netherlands court strikes down Dutch grifter’s patent claim over Ethiopia’s ancient staple grain teff https://qz.com/africa/1545111/ethiopias-teff-flour-is-no-longer-patented-as-a-dutch-invention

#5yrsago Bank lobbyists are scared to meet with AOC because she might humiliate them on Twitter later https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-banks-aoc/banks-weigh-whether-to-embrace-or-avoid-progressive-firebrand-ocasio-cortez-idUSKCN1PV27N/

#5yrsago Barefoot Engineers: rural women from Malawi, trained as solar engineers, who are electrifying their remote villages https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/gallery/2019/feb/11/barefoot-engineers-malawi-solar-power-in-pictures

#5yrsago Amazon just bought mesh wifi company Eero. Oh, great. https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/12/18221441/amazon-buying-eero-disappointing

#5yrsago A short list of “all the bad things” about Uber and Lyft https://usa.streetsblog.org/2019/02/04/all-the-bad-things-about-uber-and-lyft-in-one-simple-list

#5yrsago The WPA’s horseback librarians https://historydaily.org/female-librarians-on-horseback

#5yrsago The most censored Wechat topics: US-China trade war, Canadian arrest of Huawei CFO, ZTE sanctions, more https://globalvoices.org/2019/02/11/censored-on-wechat-a-year-of-content-removals-on-chinas-most-powerful-social-media-platform/

#5yrsago Freedom EV: free/open replacement firmware for your electric vehicle — including a Tesla https://github.com/jnuyens/freedomev

#5yrsago How to think about climate change and “cost-benefit analysis” https://progressivereform.org/cpr-blog/on-buying-insurance-and-ignoring-cost-benefit-analysis/

#5yrsago Artist Nan Goldin leads protests at the Guggenheim and the Met over their reputation-laundering of the Sacklers’ opioid epidemic fortunes https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/nan-goldin-leads-a-protest-at-the-guggenheim-against-the-sackler-family

#5yrsago Addressing inequality is foreign policy, not domestic https://crookedtimber.org/2019/02/11/democracy-and-inequality-as-a-global-policy-agenda/

#1yrago After Ohio rail disaster, Buttigieg is silent on restoring the safety standards Trump repealed https://pluralistic.net/2023/02/11/dinah-wont-you-blow/#ecp


🤮 Colophon

Currently writing:

* A Little Brother short story about DIY insulin PLANNING

* Picks and Shovels, a Martin Hench noir thriller about the heroic era of the PC. FORTHCOMING TOR BOOKS JAN 2025

* The Bezzle, a Martin Hench noir thriller novel about the prison-tech industry. FORTHCOMING TOR BOOKS FEB 2024

* Vigilant, Little Brother short story about remote invigilation. FORTHCOMING ON TOR.COM

* Spill, a Little Brother short story about pipeline protests. FORTHCOMING ON TOR.COM

Latest podcast: What kind of bubble is AI? https://craphound.com/news/2024/01/21/what-kind-of-bubble-is-ai/

Upcoming appearances:

* The Bezzle at Weller Book Works (Salt Lake City), Feb 21

* The Bezzle at Third Place Books (Seattle), Feb 26

* Tucson Festival of Books, Mar 9/10

* Enshittification: How the Internet Went Bad and How to Get it Back (virtual), Mar 26

* Media Ecology Association keynote, Jun 6-9 (Amherst, NY)

* American Association of Law Libraries keynote, Jul 21 (Chicago)

Recent appearances:

* Why Taylor Left Tiktok (Today, Explained)

* Online Platform Decay (Tim Ventura)

* Decentralization, Digital Rights, and the Future of the Internet

Latest books:

* "The Lost Cause:" a solarpunk novel of hope in the climate emergency, Tor Books (US), Head of Zeus (UK), November 2023 (http://lost-cause.org). Signed, personalized copies at Dark Delicacies (https://www.darkdel.com/store/p3007/Pre-Order_Signed_Copies%3A_The_Lost_Cause_HB.html#/)

* "The Internet Con": A nonfiction book about interoperability and Big Tech (Verso) September 2023 (http://seizethemeansofcomputation.org). Signed copies at Book Soup (https://www.booksoup.com/book/9781804291245).

* "Red Team Blues": "A grabby, compulsive thriller that will leave you knowing more about how the world works than you did before." Tor Books http://redteamblues.com. Signed copies at Dark Delicacies (US): and Forbidden Planet (UK): https://forbiddenplanet.com/385004-red-team-blues-signed-edition-hardcover/.

* "Chokepoint Capitalism: How to Beat Big Tech, Tame Big Content, and Get Artists Paid, with Rebecca Giblin", on how to unrig the markets for creative labor, Beacon Press/Scribe 2022 https://chokepointcapitalism.com

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone technothriller for adults. The *Washington Post* called it "a political cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1840/Available_Now%3A_Attack_Surface.html

* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a solution. https://onezero.medium.com/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism-8135e6744d59?sk=f6cd10e54e20a07d4c6d0f3ac011af6b) (signed copies: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2024/Available_Now%3A__How_to_Destroy_Surveillance_Capitalism.html)

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1750/July%3A__Little_Brother_%26_Homeland.html

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed copy here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2682/Corey_Doctorow%3A_Poesy_the_Monster_Slayer_HB.html#/.

Upcoming books:

* The Bezzle: a sequel to "Red Team Blues," about prison-tech and other grifts, Tor Books, February 2024

* Picks and Shovels: a sequel to "Red Team Blues," about the heroic era of the PC, Tor Books, February 2025

* Unauthorized Bread: a graphic novel adapted from my novella about refugees, toasters and DRM, FirstSecond, 2025

This work - excluding any serialized fiction - is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. That means you can use it any way you like, including commercially, provided that you attribute it to me, Cory Doctorow, and include a link to pluralistic.net.


Quotations and images are not included in this license; they are included either under a limitation or exception to copyright, or on the basis of a separate license. Please exercise caution.


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"*When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla*" -Joey "Accordion Guy" DeVilla
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