Saturday, December 31, 2005
So, I have been trying to figure out what I find so appealing about Sunshine and Twilight. I rarely, if ever, have the experience of wanting to immediately reread a story. Even *gasp* Charles de Lint. It's really strange.
For one thing, I am not a fan of horror fiction. I enjoyed both versions of Nosferatu, as films, and Dracula was interesting. But I only read Mr.Stoker's work because it's such a well known story. I'll probably, eventually, read Frankenstein for the same reason. It's not on my immediate list by any means though.
And, in spite of my Gothic past (how goth could I have been if I like Donovon?) vampires were just unappealing. See, not very goth. What IS it with the fang thing? *ick* And Lestat?? Anne, honey, what were you thinking, taking, doing with yourself back then? The movie itself was just strange.
Then I had this sudden flashback to my childhood and going to bookstores with my mom as she fed her Harlequin Romance habit. You know the books I mean? The ones you can't in any shape, form, "I'll even pay you to take them", get rid of in a used book shop? The ones that came out twice a month: six of the white and six of the colored? The ones that you graduated to after reading all 145, and still counting, Barbara Cartland's?
You don't ?
*shudder* please don't let that be the reason.
There is hope. I went to Powell's today (what? I only have like 25 books unread yet on the floor, not the shelves) and browsed some titles that a friend said were similar to Twilight.
*whew* Nothing like it in my mind.
Typical night crawlers, typical wilting female leads (Golly why does Jaques/Eduardo/ Guillame only see me in the dead of night? Oh why does he never come swimming with me and my friends? Poor, poor soul. I must make sure he is safe from harm as these uncaring town folk do not see him for his true self. I wonder what the name of that mildewey cologne he wears is? It's so dank and mysterious.)
No. Thank You Very Much.
I hope I didn't damage the copies when I shoved them back on the shelves. Oh dear. I hope no one saw me looking at them......no , I'm sure no one did....Think I'll go read King Lear now.
Welcome to 2006****CV
Friday, December 30, 2005
It's a light read and not one that is supermeaningful and heady in its philosphy. How could a book that has Vampires playing baseball--"the American pastime"-be deeply mystic, I ask you.
It reminded me somewhat of Sunshine except that it is set in a highschool, the vampires are students (of course no one knows) and their clan leader is a respected doctor in the local hospital. Oh, and there is a very minor sub plot about an agreement made between the cold ones and the local native peoples.
Essentially it was a cute romance. I imagine that I would have liked Buffy if I had a TV. I have a feeling that this story was semi inspired by the series.
The main character reads classics-a Jane Austin fan, is bright, clumsy, and incredibly unflappable. The hero is inhumanly beautiful (author's description), a pianist, troubled, etc etc. He's a good noble Beast ;)****CV
Thursday, December 29, 2005
By my previous calculations I should have finished JS&MN this past Wednesday: I haven't. See, I figured 100 pages a day would leave me time to dip into some other reading as well. Alas, no. It's not that the 100 pages a day was undoable I just didn't do it. On the bright side it is a book I can happily read while knitting (nothing too complicated). It's just that the pages will insist on turning themselves *whine*
In the book stash department I acquired two tales today both YA: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer and Hannah's Garden by Midori Snyder. The latter author is an administrator along with Terri Windling on the Endicott Studios web site. If you are a de Lint o'phile and haven't checked it out do. (I am a blogger newbie so please forgive the non-linkage).
Speaking of deLint o'philes, he (and we know who he is don't we? ;) has a new book which is being previewed and due out in the Spring. It is tentatively called Widdershins and involves Geordie and Jilly. I wonder if the Crow girls will appear? Also, he is going to redo his website some time early next year.
While browsing the book shop I kept picking up and puting back first David Copperfield then Oliver Twist. I see a Dickens of a day in my future.****CV
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Mr. Hardy's writing is filled with wonderful and detailed descriptions of places, people, emotions and social dilemmas. I sank readily into his idylls and symbolic language. However. There is a point at which I need to know whether I remain floating down a melifluous stream on a midsummers day, hand lazily trailing in the water to a safe harbor; or a crushing water fall.
At 4 in the morning I stopped at the end of The Woman Pays and skimmed the end of the next part (Tess tells Angel, Angel reacts typically) kept skimming (oh look, a Radcliffe moment) and skimming (possible elopement to Brazil curtailed) and skimming (Alec the Evangelist?!? brief pause oh ok) and skimming (lechers are poor losers and spiteful to boot) and skimming ( don't mess with a woman with a complete place setting at hand) then read all of Fullfillment.
I don't think I'll view Stone Henge in quite the same way anymore.
The only question I have is: At any point in the story is the reader told directly what Alec and Tess were to each other during those first four months?
I will read other Hardy works. I found his pacing restful but not sleep inducing. I just hope that if they all follow similar denouments (oh fancy word ;) I can skim that part. Upton Sinclair was enough of a moralizer in the Jungle that I feel I have met my quota for this decade.****CV
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
I tend to fall into one or many of those categories depending on the story or part of the story I am currently reading (hey chittavrtti, remember?). But, I do tend to get a bit het up when deragatory statements are made regarding an author's work not because of the work itself but the lack of similarity to the authors' previous pieces.
I admit, I do like it when an author continues characters beyond one story. One finds a certain comfort when an author maintains a consistent technique, scenario, or plot device. I also admit there are definite times when an author should not continue a character, and times when an author should change plot tactics. I have reached a point in my reading life where I appreciate a beginning, a middle and an end (the end not neccessarily being death but simply a finale).
I also believe that an author's work -if they are true to themselves, should reflect their current world view. This view may, and usually does, change over the course of their career. This is to be expected and looked for. I am not in favor of preaching through fiction --I have seriously avoided Dianetics and the current postapocolyptic serialization.
So all that said (and you may be wondering just exactly where this is headed) I am going to share my view regarding Deerskin by Robin McKinley.
Deerskin is a retelling of the story Donkeyskin in which a princess is beaten and raped by her father the king, barely escapes and hides by disguisng herself as a peasant wearing a donkeyskin and eventually exacts her revenge. From the outset this is not a pretty tale. I am hardpressed to imagine the Disney studios making it into a family feature. I am not hardpressed to believe that there is some historic precedent for this story, in the sense that similar abusive events actually occurred. There is another story I remember starting to read which pursued a similar theme except that it is not the father but an invading tribal leader who is the abuser. I could not read that story. As far as Deerskin is concerned I had to read from the second part on before I could read the first.
Unlike McKinley's other works which also involve heroines overcoming difficulties, Deerskin is timid, insecure, friendless, and a pawn with no future of being anything else. At the end of the story she has overcome some challenges but still faces many others and so the ending leaves the reader hopeful but uncertain about her future.
**END OF SPOILER**
Greatly simplified then, Deerskin is a person in transition leaving behind one life and having to create life anew. This being a "fairy tale", though no fairies are invloved, she of course acquires certain aids in this transition: a dress of pure white deerskin which never becomes soiled, an empathic ability to find others in distress, endurance beyond the norm, and the presence of an unseen figure who is never named, but, she does not acquire mental stability. Deerskin is still the princess abused or what we would call a victim of PTSD regardless of outward appearences.
Deerskin is not an easy story to read. Some will complain that passages are too wordy, that the violence is horrific (not in quantity but for what it is), that it is too atypical of Ms. McKinley's other works. And though there are several allusions within it to her world of Damar this may be an aspect which most unsettles her already disturbed readers.
Nor is Donkeyskin a pleasant story. Neither is Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Aschenputtle, or the Snow Queen. To expect an author to be consistent in their works is normal. However, to express shock that an author may venture away from a reader's preconceived notions of what this author writes or should only write is both unrealistic and disrespectful.
In Deerskin Ms.McKinley has created a character who is vulnerable, pathetic, has no sense of place or control of her world and in spite of it all continues to exist with awareness. It does not have a neat and tidy ending, nor should it.
Perhaps that is the point of these older stories. Here is an event and it's circumstances. Here is how some say it concluded. You decide if it did or did not occur. It doesn't matter. For here we still are today.***CV
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Friend 1: Good Morning!
Friend 2: Good Morning!
Friend 1: Y'know I'd like to greet you in a seasonally appropriate manner but I don't know what that is....
Friend 2: How long have we known each other?
Friend 1: I dunno. Twenty years?
Friend 2: And you don't know what, or if, I celebrate by now?
Friend 1: (Shuffles feet. Looks anywhere but at friend) Well y'see I always thought of you as a friend not a belief system so....
Friend 2: So why change now?
This morning I finished As Simple As Snow by G. Galloway. He includes a minor tribute to Haruki Murakami but I consider the entire work to be influenced by him. If you have not read Kafka on the Shore I highly reccomend it. I consider it one of Murakami's more accessible works. Warning: there were a few scenes in the story that I had to know the outcome of before I could read them, 'nuff said
I had a friend in SF who worked in a local cafe, The Beanery, named Pat. She mentioned Murakami several times to me but I never got around to reading him until this past summer. I suppose one could classify him as a romantic noir surrealist, but that would be just a name. I find classifications handy when searching for a particular book but find them more indicative of a store owners personal system (if it is a small business) then neccessarily what the book is. Can you just imagine a store with a section called Romantic Noir Surrealism? Could a clerk even say that section's name with a straight face? ****CV
Friday, December 23, 2005
I am finding many references in Ms. Clarkes work though that are reminding me of Katherine Briggs' collections. This is not neccessarily bad only I wonder how many people who read her novel will think that these anecdotes are her creation? Maybe not many. I do find it difficult to imagine anyone reading this story who is not already familiar with victorian authors or magic realism. The book is nearly 800 pages long. Not a typical airport time filler.* That said I find Ms. Clarke's style surprisingly light. It is Dickens in memory not actuality.
Some reviewer I had read regarding Ms, Clarke's debut had expressed disappointment that it took so long for the story to actually start. I usually find the story to start at the beginning of chapter one. I am not sure where others look. Perhaps this is the same reader who objected to all the non dialog in Sunshine.
Here is a handy trick I learned when a young reader.
If the narrative is putting you to sleep skip to the quotation marks. Quotation marks typically indicate conversation. They are a clue that more than one character is currently present in that part of the book. If a bit of the conversation is muddy (because a crucial detail is included in the previously skipped narrative then skim back through the narrative until that word appears. *presto*) Of course this requires some atttention while reading and if it is too much of a strain then by all means lay the tedious volume aside and choose something less taxing.*****CV
*regarding airports and reading it is thanks to such long stretches of time I finished a wonderful biography of Frida Kahlo
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Pay the Piper, Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple
Evelina, Fanny Burney
King Lear, William Shakespeare
Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare
Winter Rose, Patricia McKillip
Fire Bringer, David Clement-Davies****CV
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
I no longer live near a beach. I haven't found another means of celebrating that is as meaningful for me. Maybe I simply have moved too much in the last couple of years.
Still, the wild hunt moves through tonight. Tomorrow light begins its increase. The cycle continues.
Sutras I.2 : wholeness is the process of being and becoming aware*****CV
Read some more of Little, Big, then set it aside to attempt JS&MN. Well, what do you know? I can read it now.
When I was about 14 or so I really wanted to read the Gormenghast series by Mervyn Peake. So I went to In and Out of Print Books on Clement St. (it's no longer there) and found all three volumes, bought them and brought them home. Now mind, I had recently found out that Sting had purchased the rights to one of the volumes-can't recall which one right now, because he was considering one of the characters as a part in a film--no not Fushia, Steerpike. Having just seen, Brimstone and Treacle, I thought it a perfect match. I had also read the series referenced in other readings. (I tend to do that: look for the books and authors mentioned within the books I read).
So there they were. Sitting on my shelf. Waiting for me to read them. I pick up vol. I, turn to the first chapter and wham! I hit a brick wall. The writing will not let me in. I tried. Several times. Got very frustrated. I had never met a book I couldn't read before. And it wasn't the language it was the style of the language that was blocking me. When you are a 7 book a week addict this can be very annoying.
Finally I ended up setting the books aside and two years later I read all three in two weeks.
JS&MN seems to be the same. Either that or Con speak, "I have recently come to this area and have not yet decided if I am staying. I rather think that I am not." p355, is Dickensian enough that the style in which JS&MN is written in has become accessible. Whatever. Maybe it's not so much Dickensian as it is Vampiric Quainte.
Childermass appears to be very puckish ;)***CV
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
There are few books that I will actually reread. It's not that other stories are uninteresting or not worthy of a revisit it is simply that few call to me. Asher Lev by Chiam Potok, Sunshine and Deerskin by Robin McKinley, Mulengro by Charles De Lint, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (but I can't find my copy), are all I can think of right now that I would be willing to reread despite the evergrowing pile of unreads by my bed. (Oh, and any of the Witchworld novels by Andre Norton :)
I do not know if this is because most books leave a clear enough image afterwards that I do not feel the need to reread them, or, if certain characters call to me like old friends asking me to come out and play again. One of these days I might figure it out*****CV
Monday, December 19, 2005
Then it rained and when I went out today there was salt, slush and icy patches on the sidewalks and the roads.
Tomorrow I will head out and see if I can pick up an Arden edition of King Lear or Tweflth Night and perhaps catch a showing of Walk the Line or Narnia. Meanwhile I started Little, Big today.***CV
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Alan Garner appears to me to be one of those writers who has a story to tell but does not feel the need to blanket his readers in either minute descriptions or verbal bric a brac. This was especially clear to me in The Owl Service. I realized while reading this story that I am very used to authors providing explanatory details and side lights (footnotes within the paragraphs so to speak). When these don't appear I find myself hanging on to each turn of phrase and paying much more attention to the plot and characters.
"....another message in the artichokes...." whaaa-?
I admit it. If the author lets me I can become a very lazy reader. Mr. Garner won't let me. An example of this is that one of the characters names in Weirdstone is Colin. Ordinary enough. In passing though he is called Young Dog and told not to be insulted as it is a noble name. End of detail. On with the plot.
Hey! Just a minute! What do you mean young dog is a noble name? You couldn't be referring to...nah....but......Cuchalan? The young dog of Cuchal??? Chalan....colin....Oh fine! Be that way.
Now that I'm on Winter Break I may finally get around to reading, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell. For some reason every time I glance at it I am reminded of Mervyn Peake.....Of course I also have, Tess..., to read and, A Tale of Two Cities, to complete.
It's funny, but, only recently did I become aware of what a sweet writer Mr. Dickens was. I recently re-read the opening chapter to, A Christmas Carol, online. Not only sweet but a great sense of humour.*****CV
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
I just found out that a teacher I discovered last summer is still in the area and is in a new studio. I get to have pratice taught again! Which is really good considering I've not been putting too much effort into it lately and the last urdvha danurasana I felt in my arms for days afterwards.
I used to have such a commited practice too. 6 days a week, 2 hour sessions, really nice. Then I moved from my hometown to a place where a shopping center is the Town Center and public transit runs every 45 minutes.
I am so glad to be back in a city, I cannot tell you. However, it has been a challenge to find a studio. And to be honest where the teacher is is not that great but, she is so like my first teacher: in style and manner, that that is okay.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
I'm tempted to read, The Dark is Rising, or, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, tommorrow (we started, Well Wished, but...).
Finished at home: Thomas the Rhymer, by Ellen Kushner. Lot's o' lovin' goin' on in this story. *blush* Still, lovely counterpart to other reading I have been doing. I'm beginning to get a sense of the recycled themes in the Fair Folk tales.
New reads: Ombria in Shadow; The Weirdstone of Brisingamen; The Owl Service.
BTW is anyone familiar with the game of fidchell?*****CV
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Today I found out that I am like Mohair Yarn, good at covering up bad choices and impossible to move from a position taken; and the book, Watership Down--I would be recognized for my deep and complex nature if only I wasn't always talking about talking rabbits.
I'll put the responsibility of talking rabbits onto having, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, read as my bedtime story for a year when I was five.
On another topic, I've been dipping into my Katherine Briggs finds and just read two novelles: Clem Cloudsley, and, Cap O'Rushes. The first is very similar to Robin Hood except the Archery contest takes place after Clem is granted pardon for hunting the King's deer and before the King finds out that Clem and his two stalwart companions have decimated Clem's home town (300+ persons). Clem ends up becoming a forester for the King and his wife is placed in charge of the Royal nursery.
What itches me about this story (besides crime paying) is that Clem is pardoned because the King owes the Queen a favor. But, there is no reason given for why she uses the favor (and it appears to be a one time deal) for Clem and his friends. She just shows up and says remember your promise to me husband? Well this is it. The King isn't too pleased and considers it a waste too, couldn't she ask for some forests or jewels?
Cap O'Rushes reminds me of Cinderella (only the fancy dress is the same dress three nights running, and there is no lost slipper but a ring given). According to KB it is the theme for King Lear.
I think I have discovered a wonderful excuse to buy a collection of Shakespeare :)*****CV
Saturday, December 10, 2005
This morning I read a story called, The Druid's Tune, by O.R. Melling. It follows the adventures of two modern Canadians when they get caught in a Harpers spell and whisked into the middle of Queen Maeve's raid.
I love the fact that the harper is called Peter Murphy, and is moody and anti social.
The writing is okay. Melling has written other books set in Ireland more recently that show her increased skill as an author (for example, The Hunter's moon). What I enjoyed about this particular book was that having read the Tain as literature during the summer, I can now read it as YA fantasy and enjoy the characters as persons - if that makes sense. We meet Queen Maeve, her daughter Finavarr -- who has been promised to seven plus kings so far--, her son Maine the honeytongued, Fergus (an Ulster chieftan), Cuchalan (the champion of Ulster), and Emer (Cuchlans beloved); all of whom attain a sense of being people rather than mythohistorical symbols.
There is another YA book called the Hounds of the Morrgain by Pat O'Shea which mentions the seven sons of Maeve (the Maines). In this story, though, the sons are only heads in the ground - their bodies having been buried below them.
I will probably now place the Druid's Tune next to the Tain as handy references for each other.****CV
Friday, December 09, 2005
I'll sing you one o; Green grow the rushes o
What is your one o?
One is one and all alone and ever more shall be so.
I'll sing you two o; Green grow the rushes o
What is your two o?
Two, two the lily white boys, cloth-ed all in green o; one is one and all alone and ever more shall be so.
I'll sing you three o; Green grow the rushes o
What is your three o?
Three, three the rivals. Two, two the lily white boys......
I'll sing you four o; Green grow the rushes o
What is your four o?
Four for the gospel makers, three, three the rivals.....
I'll sing you five o; Green grow the rushes o
What is your five o?
Five for the symbols on your door, four for the gospel makers.....
I'll sing you six o; Green grow the rushes o
What is your six o?
Six for the six proud walkers, five for the symbols on your door...
I'll sing you seven o; Green grow the rushes o
What is your seven o?
Seven for the seven stars in the sky, six for the six proud walkers.....
I'll sing you eight o; Green grow the rushes o
What is your eight o?
Eight for the April rainers, seven for the seven stars in the sky...
I'll sing you nine o; Green grow the rushes o
What is your nine o?
Nine for the nine bright shiners, eight for the April rainers...
I'll sing you ten o; Green grow the rushes o
What is your ten o?
Ten for the ten commandments, nine for the nine bright shiners....
I'll sing you eleven o; Green grow the rushes o
What is your eleven o?
Eleven for the eleven that went to heaven, ten for the ten commandments...
I'll sing you twelve o; Green grow the rushes o
What is your twelve o?
Twelve for the twelve apostles...eleven for the eleven that went to heaven....
A friend brought in a stack of medieval books and CDs today. They were waiting on my chair when I returned from lunch :)******CV
Thursday, December 08, 2005
I cannot tell if the flashing temperature sign downtown is true or if one of the numbers is burnt out.
Our angora rabbit (Jack by name) is continually moving in his hutch and his paws have become soled in fur.
Please let there be snow so I can stay in bed tomorrow.*****CV
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
In the first house lives a boy and a cat. In the same house (sort of) lives a boy, a cat, and a dog. In the third house (almost) the exterior is being watched by Lord Herne and his company. I find it a good winter solstice tale as it doesn't define for the reader what is good and what is bad. There is light. There is dark.
I like books that give cause for a person to think.
At the end of the chapter three reading, two of the community seemed rather pleased to be able to identify the stories that three of the four heroes mentioned had been in: Ged Sparowhawk, Aragorn, and Wil Stanton. I was surprised that no one recognized Arthur Pendragon (but then perhaps they didn't associate King Arthur with his father).
Independantly I am reading, Little Mysteries, and finding this book, too, to be layered in a lovely way.***CV
Monday, December 05, 2005
Finished: one pair of mittens, and, preparing to start a pair of chocolate and cream gloves. I haven't decided if they should be fingerless or not. I do want them to be long though :)*****CV
Friday, December 02, 2005
Yet we went to see Murder by Decree, and I freaked at the fisheye sequence where the audience becomes Jack the Ripper as he runs down an alley towards his victim. And then there was that really creepy part in the 7% solution where Holmes is seeing snakes writhe towards him from his ceiling fixtures *shudder*. And the scene in Watership Down where the farmer's field is covered in blood....
Does this sound like there might be some good old fashioned issues regarding love and violence?
Anyway. I now get to read Td'U as part of a book group which means all the bits left out of the film I will know :)
But that probably doesn't mean all that much, as I suppose I am old enough and mom would even let me sit through Excalibur now.*****CV
Thursday, December 01, 2005
The mysteries of ribbing for Mittens and decoding the code of crochet is currently happening at my place of employ so my literary reading is on pause at the moment.
Howsoever, I do have a new Mahfouz awaiting me this weekend (if only I can find my way out of the forest and to the river Nile)****CV