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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

Book larnin'

Started Peg Kerr's The Wild Swans today. Only a few dozen pages in, and she already made me choke up once. Very nice. Clean style. Vivid characters. Comments when I finish, and finish I suspect I will.

And seeming even cleaner and more sweeping in comparison to the last book I read, which was Sarah Hoyt's All Night Awake, since I'm still playing ketchep with the Elizabethan Fantasy. Let us merely say that this one did not rock my world, and move along: more specifically, I found the writing style repetitive and overtold, the characterizations shallow, and the plot insubstantial. I often look very hard to find what a given writer has 'done right,' even in a book I do not like.

I'm not managing to do that in this one.

On the other hand, Hoyt is moving these books by the metric buttload, so she must be doing *something* right. Perhaps the style is just a little too forthright for my tastes.

I finished Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint on the airplane. It was considerably better than I remembered: I liked it rather a lot this time. Dunno what I was thinking when I read it back in 1998 or so and was underwhelmed.

I really need to read some nice hard crunchy science fiction before all this fantasy rots my brain.


I finished Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint on the airplane. It was considerably better than I remembered: I liked it rather a lot this time. Dunno what I was thinking when I read it back in 1998 or so and was underwhelmed.

Ahha. Interesting. I read it very young and liked it so well that I'm almost nervous to reread it now for fear it wouldn't hold up. Have you read any of her short stories? http://www.wgbh.org/wgbh/pages/pri/spirit/ellenbib.html
I haven't! Thanks for the link!

I liked it better than Fall of the Kings, as it has a more concrete narrative arc, which is a big deal for me: I like me a narrative arc--although Kings may be more beautifully written.

Good books.



Peg Kerr

That book was so brilliant I read it three times, checking it out from the library.

And then I bought it.



One, I so envy you your boy. To build you a desk like that....

Second, I envy you your time to read. I mean, I haven't really read a book since I devoted two days last month to finishing Black House. I'm really depressed by how much my reading has stopped including paperbacks, and been replaced by reams and reams of OWW chapters. This does not bode well from improving my writing, I think lol. Must somehow find time to finish the library book I've renewed 6 times, but I've been mugged by the editing bug for Lex (finally! 1200 words on that last night), the new scenes for book 2 and my review count.

By the way, sorry I haven't gotten back to you on what you sent me yet. I plan to address it next week.

Have a great weekend!

Re: Jealous

Please don't stress it. I'm like totally without time to do anything workshoppy currently.
I abandoned Ill Met By Moonlight very early on - it got onto that pile of 'maybe I'll get back to it' and so far I haven't been moved to do so. I think your comments express pretty well what I was finding less than compelling about it.
I wonder what people like about them.

I always wonder that when I find an author I ***really*** don't click with, especially one who seems to be building a fan base.
I'm so glad you liked Swordspoint this time round--it's one of my favorite books, and I do love the way Kushner uses language in it.

And I've got my copy of The Fall of the Kings--far earlier than I expected to. It doesn't call up quite the same response as Swordspoint which is good really--but I do appreciate a book which shows evidence of intellectual rigour, and that one does.

evidence of intellectual rigour--

ooo. Can you clarify that comment a little? Because it sounds like exactly the thing I long for in fantasy, and so often do not see.

I usually call it primary-sourcing: even in fantasy, I think it helps to read a *lot* of nonfiction, and fiction outside the genre, if you hope to have anything to say that hasn't been said a bajillion times....

Let me know what you think of Fall when you finish it, please?

Re: evidence of intellectual rigour--

Um. Yes, partly it is about primary sourcing--dealing with ideas and issues properly and thoroughly, not just scraping over the surface because they look good--but partly it's to do with the way a text interacts with the genre and the conventions it accesses. It has to do with not taking the...I guess, the vocabulary of conventions at face value, but going further into them and exploring all the possibilities, the things that usually get neglected Problematising them, if you will. The most obvious place The Fall of the Kings does that is with the 'sacred sexuality' concept, but there are others.

I'll have to reread it before I can talk about it in any sort of coherent way, though...

I gave up on Hoyt's Ill Met by Moonlight 150 pages in -- the writing seemed surprisingly clumsy and the fairies were neither interesting nor convincingly portrayed. That sold well? Wow, I'm a really lousy commercial weathervane.

I think fairies are often the kiss of death in a fantasy novel however. They work in Poul Anderson's Broken Sword, Warner's Kingdoms of Elfland and of course Little, Big -- not counting Tolkien, that's all I can think of.
I have fairies in two books--Bridge of Blood & Iron and The Stratford Man. They're far closer to traditional fairies--the Daoine Sidhe, with a bunch of modernizations and changes, and a strong influence via balladry and the Tain--than most fantasy fairies, however.

And I agree, most fantasy fairies are awful. Not dark and deep enough.

Of course, I am not a good judge of whether my own fae work.

I like Peter Beagle's and Brian Froud's fae a lot, however. There's also some nice stuff in the first MAGE graphic novel. The redcaps in that book just blew me away. They're so perfectly petty and vicious.
Thanks for the MAGE tip -- I'm not familiar with it but I'll check it out. I shoulda added Dean's Tam Lin to the list, too.

I haven't read the later Beagle books -- didn't know he useed fairies.

Yeah -- the darkness and skewedness of fairy psychology is hard to capture, and most attempts to portray fairyland at any length are a bit giggle-inducing.
There are two MAGE series--I won't give it away, but the first of the two is, IMHO, very nice.

The second one not so much. *g*

Beagle has fair folk in The Folk of the Air and Tamsin./i> Both of which are *well* worth the read.

If you ever have a moment of extreme boredom, I'd be happy to show you some sample chapters of how I'm using them. But of course I wouldn't presume, etc. *g*
Sorry for the lack of a speedy reply -- deadlines have been keeping me offline.

I'd love to see some fairy chapters -- as long as you'll forgive me for potentially long waits for comments.
By all means--drop me an email. *g*

Mine is listed under my userinfo.