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Drood - Dan Simmons

KESpires

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I don't think it comes to Simmons being ignorant. He's made the comment that he can't write a single sentence if he is unsure of the historical accuracy. He also said he was going from actual letters and correspondence and that he stuck to what his research into the actual bio of all the characters involved revealed. All that being said I don't know what Simmons is thinking and I also haven't read the book.

But man, do I want to read the book now or what... I might grab it this weekend.
 

j d worthington

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I don't think it comes to Simmons being ignorant. He's made the comment that he can't write a single sentence if he is unsure of the historical accuracy. He also said he was going from actual letters and correspondence and that he stuck to what his research into the actual bio of all the characters involved revealed. All that being said I don't know what Simmons is thinking and I also haven't read the book.

But man, do I want to read the book now or what... I might grab it this weekend.
LOL... yes, I'm going to have to get my hands on a copy of it, just to see how accurate the impression I've gained from the quotes above (and Paladin's statements) are. I'm hoping that I'll be pleasantly surprised here, but I must admit that I've grown wary of the ability of modern writers to capture any semblance of writers as recent as 50-60 years ago when supposedly using their voices, let alone those of over a century ago. It can happen, but it's damn' rare. Most often, it ends up being a caricature, rather than a reasonable facsimile. I can forgive slips, as long as I can tell that you genuinely researched the person well before attempting to "imitate" him/her, but if I see flagrant divergences, then I tend to throw the book against the wall... numerous times, in fact.:rolleyes:

Nonetheless, because I have a fair degree of respect for Simmons as a writer himself, I'm willing to give it a try before judging the book itself; but on the impression gained from the quote above... I stand by my statements concerning that, and I can't help but feel a little saddened seeing such coming from a man with Simmons' general abilities.....
 

KESpires

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I think a lot of this comes down to a difference of opinion between you and Simmons on Wilkie Collins's place in history and his place beside Charles Dickens. Well, a supposed disagreement.

Such as the disagreement you and I have about whether or not Collins is remembered as well as Dickens. You are coming to the table from a perspective of a person who makes it their business not to leave a stone unturned. I'm coming to the table from a person who has to read in between customers at work, kids and wife at home, writing, editing, rewriting, sleeping, and more often than I should, eating. It is amazing with the amount of stuff crammed into each of my days that I even have time for posting on this site. Probably I shouldn't, but I am getting off point.

Each of us is assuming, and we could each find others to back our opinion up, that because we have or haven't heard of Collins before Simmons plucked him to be the narrator of his new novel, that that amount of knowledge somehow permeates onto others.

But we can agree on a few points. He isn't as well known as Dickens but was a friend/admirer of Dickens.

Beyond that I'm going to check out DROOD and also some of Collins work. I'll probably start with his short fiction. I have grown to really like short fiction and if the man is competent at short fiction then I have much more confidence he'll be competent at novel writing and thus have gained the necessary investment in my time to read one of his novels.

Also, which books by Simmons have you read? I've read ILIUM and am devouring OLYMPOS as quickly as time allows. I'm going to get THE TERROR next after finding out the premise behind it. Have you read his noir crime fiction by any chance? Has anyone here? I'm interested in it only because he writes it. I don't usually go for that sort of thing.

Then again, I thought that before and was pleasantly surprised.
 

Connavar

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Edgar Allan Poe isnt as known as Chickens if you go after what children read,see in school does that mean Poe who is a huge important writer,influenced many great writers are mediocare in comparison cause of popularity reasons ??

Thats the only point that i have problem about Simmons words.

Speaking about this actual book i tend stay clear away fiction books about famous writers. Like this book about Robert E. Howard and HPL being involved in a story that is Lovecraftian in tone.
 

j d worthington

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KES: I think I'd have a bit more evidence on my side with that aspect of it, as Collins is one of the more well-known English writers of that period, and still remains relatively popular. I agree entirely that he isn't as well-known as Dickens, or as good a writer overall (though there are times when a comparison of the two would have Collins come out ahead), but again, he remains popular enough to have a fairly large reputation even today, and for several of his books and tales to remain perpetually in print and sell well enough to continue having shelf space in the bookstores.

The odd thing is, I'm not a huge fan of Collins. I like most of his work that I've read, but I wouldn't put him terribly high on my list of favorite writers. However, I'm not that big a fan of Dickens, either, though again I like most of his work that I've read -- it's just that neither of them quite appeals that strongly to my personal taste. Both, however, are well worth reading, though one should do a little research with Collins, as he was prolific enough to have a few true clunkers in there, as well.

Connavar: I assume you are referring to Shadow's Bend. It's not a bad novel, and actually does better at capturing at least a shadow of HPL, Howard, and Smith now and again -- which is a damned sight better than most such attempts, for reasons far too lengthy to go into here. But yes, you're probably better off avoiding it for the time being at least. And by all means, avoid The Arcanum as if it were the Black Death. That one escaped being launched through the wall only by virtue of being a library book, and I have an intense antipathy to damaging things from the library -- no matter how much they may deserve it.:rolleyes:
 

KESpires

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I'd agree that for those inclined to go hunting, yes you'd find more.

For those who pick up the odd book here and there, they are much more likely to have knowledge of Dickens than Collins.

But this argument could go on forever as the nuances of work being remembered versus being touted in the educational establishment is a fruitless debate. As I haven't read Collins I'll just stop at this point. Once I've read him I may agree with Simmons, that his writing was mediocre, or I may agree with you, that it was good enough to still be read and appreciated today and that Simmons made a harsh judgment of his writing in naming it mediocre.

However, most of the sticking points in this argument come down to how Simmons views Collins. Factually I think he'll probably come out on top. Simmons is a good writer and doesn't shy away from research.
 

thepaladin

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Interesting side point...from now on people's views of Collins may (quite likely will be) influnced by this book as "a lot of people" struggle in telling the difference between fact and fiction once they are "mixed".
 

j d worthington

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However, most of the sticking points in this argument come down to how Simmons views Collins. Factually I think he'll probably come out on top. Simmons is a good writer and doesn't shy away from research.
So I would have said before this. But from what is said in the excerpt above, I'd argue that at least some of his statements go completely against anything I've ever seen from any Collins scholars, many of whom research the man and his milieu for decades....

And one doesn't have to "go hunting"; just as a personal example, I began running into Collins' tales in anthologies -- both supernatural tales and mysteries/suspense stories -- at an early age, and I can't recall ever being in a bookstore that didn't have at least one or two of his titles on hand, frequently more. This was without me being particularly interested in looking him up -- as I said, both Collins and Dickens are less to my personal taste than many other writers -- but merely noting which writers were included in such volumes or at the stores... or at least, those whose names I had begun to recognize because they were made so familiar by constant representation.

However, you have a certain amount of justice here, as those who are occasional readers, or are mainly readers of contemporary fiction laced with an occasional foray into older writing (the "odd book here or there"), are less likely to be familiar with Collins (or any of the other notable writers of that period, for the matter of that), as the names we become familiar with through exposure to them in school make up a very tiny number of even the best writers of any period. But I repeat: this is a very long way from his work being "forgotten".

And Paladin: You're quite right, and this is one of my problems with such presentations. What I see here is a very subjective view of Collins and his work, given the appearance of authority, a false comparison of Dickens and Collins with an agenda that raises the one at the expense of the other; and such as that can color how a writer is viewed for a very long time. Most people still have in mind the picture of Poe presented by Griswold, and that was exploded a very long time ago. But it is more sensational than the reality, and that tends to tickle people's fancy more than the much more complex, nuanced man that Poe was. The same is true with interpretations of Lovecraft and Howard, and has been done at times with Dickens, Maturin, and Mary Shelley as well. And frankly, I find such an approach to be disingenuous at best....

However, before going further with this conversation, I'd best get a copy of the book and read it, as so far I'm going on the comments made outside of the novel itself. I have little doubt that Simmons has written an entertaining and even thought-provoking novel; my point of contention is this one aspect, and the novel itself may leave a different impression....
 
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