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dusted off in read-only

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posts by rossb Commoner | joined 20 Feb 2006 | 2


Kelly Link's stories and other recommendations posted 20 Feb 2006, 08:02 in Literature DiscussionKelly Link's stories and other recommendations by rossb, Commoner

Having just panned David Mitchell's stupid book "Cloud Atlas" in a previous thread, I thought I should at least offer a suggestion or two of things that [i:1ohobc0k]are[/i:1ohobc0k] worth reading and which might be less well known. Kelly Link's two volumes of stories, "Stranger Things Happen" and "Magic for Beginniners" operate on the borders of fantasy. Her ideas are original her characters engaging, and the stories are very entertaining. She is a very, very good writer. A writer who might appeal to Bakker fans is Lawrence Durrell, whose ethereal "Alexandria Quartet" and the two volume "Revolt of Aphrodite" (also occasionally available separately as "Tunc" and "Nunquam") are not exactly fantasy but do have a kind of hyper-real sensibility that might appeal to readers on this forum. John Crowley's "The Deep" and "Engine Summer" (the two novels also available with the lesser "Beasts" in the omnibus "Otherwise") are fabulous (literally and figuratively) fantasy novels. Cynthia Ozick's "The Puttermesser Papers" is not genre fantasy but does have some fantasy elements and is certainly one of the best books written in the last few years (will she win a Nobel prize?). Finally, although totally unrelated to fantasy, I just can't stop myself from recommending my literary hero, Henry James (start anywhere, but particularly "The Portrait of a Lady", "The Wings of the Dove" or "The Ambassadors") to realise just how good literature can be, and how nonsense like "Cloud Atlas" becomes an insignificant mote of dust by comparison. view post


posted 22 Feb 2006, 20:02 in Literature DiscussionAny Wolfe fans? by rossb, Commoner

I recently got around to reading the Shadow of the Torturer and the Claw of the Conciliator, having been intending to do so for many years. I am not generally put off by "difficult" books provided the rewards are worthwhile. Wolfe is certainly a difficult writer, but I did not feel in this case - for me - the rewards justified the effort of reading it. In fact, if the books were not so highly regarded by so many people whose opinion I respect, I would probably have dismissed them outright as nothing more than someone's recollection of a 70s LSD induced trip, best forgotten rather than described as serious writing. I certainly didn't feel that the strength of these books was characterisation, description, the ability to turn an elegant sentence or any of the other "normal" characteristics of "great" writing. I do recognise that there was some hidden meanings and secret things embedded in the novel, but really there must be more to it than that. A great novel must be more than a cryptic crossword puzzle. In my experience, you either like a novel or you don't. or you at least appreciate it or not, but it is not generally possible to persuade someone to like a book just by explaining what is good about it. (There are some exceptions to this, of course, and we have all had experiences of coming back to something we did not, on a first reading, understand or appreciate, and then enjoying and understanding and wondering why we had so much trouble the first time.) Nevertheless, I would be interested to know what it is about Wolfe that so engages other people. view post


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