January 30th, 2009


Tooth and Claw, by Jo Walton

This was a review copy from Tor for the reissue, which is a lovely reissue. And when people send me free books, I review them! But I'd already read Tooth and Claw when it came out, so I wanted to do something a little different.

Off to the library! I had never read Framley Parsonage, from which a lot of the inspiration for Tooth and Claw was drawn. I had wanted to. This seemed like a good excuse.

I didn't intend a direct comparison, but I have to say I like Tooth and Claw better than Framley Parsonage, and I don't think it's because Anthony Trollope has never once made me dinner. I don't think it's because discussions of eating people make me a great deal less nervous than discussions of debt, either, although that's part of it. No, what struck me about Tooth and Claw was that I didn't feel like any of the characters were allowed to be placeholders. In Framley Parsonage, I liked Fanny and Lucy and the little Crawley girl, and the others were all less interesting to me. In Tooth and Claw, all of the siblings and all of their associates felt distinct and vivid to me, including--and this seems maybe important--the servants. In the previous bit of discussion on this lj about Framley Parsonage, papersky wondered aloud, "Why did I change that [detailed references to debt] when I wrote T&C?", and it's an interesting question. But despite my greater ease with chomping than with financial woes, I think the change that stuck out for me most was that Trollope's concern with the lives and livings of poorer clergymen was explicitly class-based: that these were not a class of people who should be expected to live in such dire circumstances. In Tooth and Claw, Jo and her characters broadened that concern to the rights and well-being of all dragons, not just those who seemed nice enough to have nice things.

If you didn't read Tooth and Claw when it was first out, all this stuff may distract you from the main point in reading it. I don't recommend Tooth and Claw because it is or is not like Framley Parsonage. I recommend it because it's like itself, it's not a lot like anything else, and what it's like is great fun. Dragons! Very proper dragons! Very properly eating each other under the very proper circumstances, and only while wearing the right hats! Go. Devour.

Words that have always belonged together but we never knew it before

The snot gnomes that took up residence on Wednesday have decided to intensify their partying in my sinuses, throat, and lungs today. This is as much fun as you might expect, and continues to combine with vertigo and its attendant nausea about as well. It interferes with my sleep. It makes me fuzzy-brained. It sucketh, lo, mightily. Add to that the fun of knowing that I don't get to see my grandparents when they arrive tonight because a) I am no longer really quite well enough to go out in the cold, and b) Grandpa is not as hearty a fighter-off of colds as once he was, and last year's pneumonia and the more recent bronchitis (bronchitises?) make us not willing to risk him. It's not just a weekend visit, so I'll have time with them if the gnome eviction is at all reasonable. But still, not as much time. This is not my favorite day ever.

But to cheer me up, a package arrived in the mail. I will quote the giver from the enclosed card: "I simply could not pass up an opportunity to give you plush penguin Vikings with built-in hockey." You know you're living right when someone looks at plush penguin Vikings with built-in hockey and cries your name aloud gladly. Hmm. I think you'll have to come up with some other gauge for living right, actually, because I may be fully occupying that particular social niche.

It has a whiteboard. Plush penguin Vikings with built-in hockey and a built-in whiteboard.

I am overcome. And not by the snot gnomes, even.