Thursday, July 28, 2005

I have decided to read

I realize the last two posts imply that I'm losing my mind, and given the mood of the past two weeks that would be a logical conclusion to draw. But I simply decided that I was wandering around feeling empty and adrift because I AM empty, and I gathered together my scattered "to read" pile.

My mom picked up a very interesting little reprint called "The Prairie Traveler," written by a U.S. Army Major and originally published in 1859, for those emigrants not lucky enough to have a Boz in their company. It has chapters on what to pack, how to handle emergencies, choosing and care of animals, and the behavior of Indians. Much looking forward to that, but not in the mood at the moment.

I am currently reading George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones, loaned to me by Shara almost two years ago with the instruction to let her know how it ended. I can't say I blame her. It's dense, tangled, and indifferently written, in my opinion. The characters are rather cardboard and single-note, especially at the beginning, but I'm about a quarter of the way through and things are picking up. Beginning writers, take note: it's really really hard to get into a book when the first eight chapters each have a different viewpoint character, with no apparent connectivity to what went before, and you're throwing up fifteen years of backstory, place names, family names, royal titles, allegiances, fathers, men-at-arms and offspring, onto the poor reader in a single regurgitation. By the time I got to chapter 12 or so I was starting to see a pattern but I kept having to check back to earlier chapters to make sure they were talking about whom I thought they were talking about. But now I'm intrigued by the plot and some of the characters are starting to distinguish themselves, so I shall soldier on. This book is actually very good for reading during the dog days of summer, with the endless descriptions of snow and ice and people freezing to death.

Tony was nice enough to loan me a stack of classic sci-fi, including several of Asimov's Robot books (le sigh... I suppose they're good for me, like fiber), Bradbury's Martian Chronicles, which I admit to being curious about, and one sweet surprise I am particularly looking forward to: Franz Lieber's The Conjure Wife. Have heard good things about it, periodically consider buying a copy. But this is better, saves me some money and instant gratification.

I also have Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness, which I got three chapters into and quit--it may have been groundbreaking in its day, but to my mind it's just obvious and hand-wringing. Then I have a copy of some time-travel thing by Caleb Carr, the arrogant wanker, which I've been meaning to read for years, and of course Idoru, which is still tented open to chapter four on my headboard. At least Gibson's got some style.

It's a good selection and variety of words, at least. I used to read a book a day, for crying out loud, but since I got married it just seemed to be a waste of time. Also I spend so much time sitting down, at work and in the car, that it's really hard for me to land and stay when I'm at home. But I can't seem to write, and reading takes no effort and is a marvellous way to escape reality, which is not too brilliant at the moment, so hey? Why not.

And related to all this reading, go look at the new PDF excerpt on AJ's blog. I saw the earlier version, it wasn't bad, but comparing that to this is the difference Dorothy saw when she stepped out of the silent gray farmhouse into Technicolor Munchkinland.

5 comments:

C8H10N4HO2O2 said...

Holly, thank you so much! Been a bit of a grind, lately; always nice to get a reaction.

And good luck. Reading does sound like the ticket.

SJ said...

What about Gaiman? Stephenson? What about the new Dragon Lance series? To think that I spent all that time addicting you to them... Or at least you blamed me for that once.
draxes

sj said...

. I find that King's advice in On Writing comes in handy for those who have long commutes. (Mine being 1 and 1/2 hr one way; and about 2 back) "Audio books, unabridged audio books"

Holly said...

I like Gaiman as a person, but his writing strikes me as childish; Stephenson... not sure yet, Cryptonomicon is on my desk, haven't decided whether to read it yet.

Dragonlance.... you're kidding, right? I gave away my old copies long ago. Once you stop being fifteen they're not that enthralling anymore.

Although I do like Gaiman when he's deliberately being childish--I was very impressed with Coraline.

Holly said...

Oh, and I've read On Writing at least three times. I got an advance copy from the publisher before it came out. Very good stuff.