September's Sojourn through Seismic Scripts and Scelestic Characters

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Mar 21, 2005
Please post what you are reading in the month of September...:)

@Vertigo: I like Cormac McCarthy's The Road a lot. I also have his Borders trilogy, which consists of All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing and Cities of the Plain. Having said that although opinions on this work can vary wildly I would strongly recommend Blood Meridian to you. It's something of a cult classic and probably my favourite work by McCarthy.

You're definitely on good form, A Canticle for Leibowitz is a great book.

Still working on FROM OFF THIS WORLD anthology and THE KING IN YELLOW. Slow reader ain't all it's cracked up to be.:(
Hellstrom's Hive by Frank Herbert.

One of the Gollancz SF Masterworks series. It's an intriguing idea but the pace of the story is a bit too slow for my liking.
I am reading Joanna Russ's We Who Are About To ...

Partly due to discussions on here about women writers, grim-dark and so on, I am going to be reading mainly women writers for a few months. I've set up a blog here:
Currently half way through GRRM's A Feast For Crows. While I enjoyed the first three books very much, I'm feeling this 4th book is less engaging. Still a good read.
Finished Anne Lyle's Alchemist of Souls - the review is up - Alchemist of Souls Review

And at last will be starting The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie.

I've had this one recommended a couple of times, and heard a lot of good things so I'm looking forwards to it.
After finishing The Dark Domain by Stefan Grabinski, and From Door to Door by Bernard Capes (I left the fist story unfinished for two years, so one day I just came back and decided I'm gonna finish the whole book now), I finally got around to Là-bas by Huysmans. I've been interested in this one evers since it came up during the occult studies of the main character in Harvest in Poland.

....And, since I'm on a roll of getting to things I've been putting off for years, I also started The Insane Root by Rosa Praed.
Finished CJ Cherryh's Downbelow Station last night. Excellent book. After the fantastic first chapter things slowed down. The next hundred or so pages brought us into the lives of the characters and life on Pell station. It picked up as the Union forces were advancing on the station and agents began to attempt to subvert the station and some key inhabitants. The book shifted again to focus on the three way power struggle between the Mazianni, the Union, and the Pell/Downbelow people, and then picked up a fourth party, the Alliance (won't say much about them as they get into spoiler territory).

The macroscopic view the of the first chapter never comes back. Instead we get a fairly close third limited POV in the minds and lives of characters, and the political, mental, and physical struggles they go through. There are a couple space battles, but they are not focused on in the writing. Even during the battles the focus is all about the characters, to the point where the battles are more peripheral. I'm ok with this. I can read Weber for detailed space battles. Cherryh brings her own tastes to the subject, and she built up plenty of trust with me throughout the preceding pages. On the topic of trust, the political maneuverings at the end were a bit hard to follow, or at least a bit hard to fully understand - the shifting loyalties and whatnot - but I just sat back and read, trusting Cherryh enough to let her do what she wanted.

All in all the book was very satisfying, and prompted me to order a few more of the Alliance-Union books.

Going to start Ericson's The Crippled God today. This feels like a momentous occasion. When I finish this book it's quite possible that I'll have read more words by Ericson than by any other writer. The Malazan Book of the Fallen series pretty well redefined the term epic for me, and from what reviews I've read this final book will push the envelope yet further.

I would strongly recommend Blood Meridian to you.

I'll second that. The book terrified me. It's an amazing accomplishment.
About to start Phase IV by Barry N. Malzberg, a novelization of the offbeat movie, the only one directed by Saul Bass, famous for his title sequences for Hitchcock, among others. The combination of the New Wave author and the unique movie should be interesting.
Just finished The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. Lovely, lush descriptions of Alaska, cracking start but I failed to connect with most of the characters and felt the early promise tailed off a bit.

In a bid to read more YA I picked up Silver by Woodings. Good pace, interesting storyline but a bit formulaic and, I thought, the characters lacked depth.

Library run later, though. :)
Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

I'm trying to familiarise myself with recent trends in the fantasy genre and find books similar to the one I've written. Apparently a new writer needs to know exactly where the market is and who the recent names are - which I don't oh dear.:confused:
If it's any consolation, Lauren, only one agent that I know of asks for an author to know three current, not long-term best seller, comparitors and why. It's good practice, of course, to read wide and know where your stuff sits, but being able to say the book will appeal to readers of ... Name one is generally enough. :)
Just finished More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon: I loved it!

More than human explores the next step in human evolution, in this case the formation of a collective conscience, based on Gestalt theory. I found the concept of the novel fascinating, and enjoyed the conflicts faced by the various entities in the collective mind. The story follows six extraordinary children, each born with mental powers ranging from telepathy to telekinesis, who come together and form a being far and beyond it's constituent parts.

Sturgeon's writing style is challenging but ultimately rewarding. His prose is precise, poetic and potent. The second section of the book in particular is wonderfully crafted, the tension building as "Homo Gestalt" reflects during a psychiatric investigation.

The three separate sections each have their own voice, which I found to be a bit jarring and ultimately affected the flow and pacing of the novel. This aside, more than human is an intense read, and delivers a rewarding investigation into potential avenues of human evolution.

Onto A Storm of Crows, I'm flying to Vegas on Saturday, so that should be a good fuel to get me through!
Finished the excellent River of Stars by GGK. He's one of my favourite authors, and I really really like the semi-historical China he has wrote about on his last few books.

I was at a bit of a loose end on what to read next, so I decided to read The Black Company by Glen Cook. Its been 10+ years since I read any of these so looking forward to them again.
Finished Huysmans' Là-bas.

I have to say I am dissapointed. After the ominous, if a bit hazy, way it was brought up in Harvest in Poland, I was expecting a tour de force of the senses, but instead the whole thing feels like the first half of a novel, who'se latter half somehow got lost and so the publisher stuck a "Finis" at a seemingly random spot.

The first problem is, the novel fails to deliver what it promises. It promises us a study of Giles de Rais, even if delivered as a story-within a story, inside of a prose work. However the book, which at first delves into the matter in detail, quickly begins to lose focus, as this is halted continously by informing us of the author's amorous (mis)adventures, and the side plot involving "modern" (as in the early 1890's) diabolism.

The latter has potential to be interesting, introducing us to not only many curious anecdotes of religion and diabolism, but even goes so far to set up a rivalry between a fallen, diabolical priest who places fatal curses on others from afar, and his opponent, an ex priest who specializes in excorcisms. Heck, one of the novel's incidental characters gets cursed by the former and cured by the later, but this all happens offscreen ! We only meet Gévigny before he is cursed, and only return to him after he is cured. The diabolical Canon Docre makes a single appearance when he celebrates a Black Mass and the main character is attending, but not only does he never speak to the main character, or any the regular characters in the book for that matter, and never appears again after the few pages reserved for the Black Mass, but Dr. Johannès, the healer-priest and Docre's rival, never actually shows up in the flesh at all !

All the buildup of Docre and contemporary satanism leads to nothing, yet it distracts so much from the Giles de Rais stuff that there is a forced remark on the penultimate page so that the main character can summarise Giles' execution, having only gotten to the end of the trial.

There are other problems I typically have with period works dismissing other religions in favour of the "one true faith", (the main character literally says, towards the end of the book "....for Buddhism and the like are not big enough to be substituted for the religion of Christ."), the fact the book opens on a very dull and very long discussion of materialism and the like.

One of the few good points are the aforementioned anecdotes and the way in which certain details about Giles de Rais' actions are described in detail, however I assumed as much given the general tone of the Fin de siècle.

I would not mind so much, assuming that this buildup and conflict might be continued in the following novels in the loose "tetralogy" featuring the main character Durtal, however it appears that not only do these books have even less plot then this one, but that Durtal, who was an atheist, is already a converted catholic in the second book, apparently, and looking up the other two, these seem to just focus on liturgy.

I read that some readers took offence at the novel's language and demanded that L'Écho de Paris end the serialisation. Honestly I would not hesitate to believe at least some would have written to have it stopped due to it's boredom and slow pace.
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