|Books read, late August
||[Sep. 1st, 2010|01:13 pm]
Frank Asch, Star Jumper: Journal of a Cardboard Genius. This got accidentally returned with some books my godson had borrowed, so I read it before putting it in the basket to return to him. It was fine but no better than that, in my unfortunately adult opinion; it was awfully focused on being nice to one's younger brother. Some younger brothers deserve niceness more than others.
Glen Cook, The Black Company. I had fun with some aspects of these horrible people doing horrible things. Honestly the part that bothered me most was how much Cook wanted to try to insist on male being the unmarked state while...not having it that way. Actually. He wanted to have a female character he could keep referring to as male. While having her be female. And authors have some awesome authorial powers to make some things important and others unimportant at will. I just don't think this is one of them. I just don't think "she's effectively male, oh wait she's not" is one of those things.
Guy Gavriel Kay, Tigana. I had not reread this in years. I thought it was my favorite Guy Kay. Upon rereading I'm pretty sure it is. I had forgotten some really good bits with Baird and like that, even.
Juliet Nicolson, The Great Silence: Britain from the Shadow of the First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age. This was not the most cheerful book one could ever choose to read: 1918-1920 is not a period filled with unmitigated hope and joy. The end of a war is more fraught than we like to acknowledge sometimes. I knew I was going to be writing about this book, and I went down to read the paper. On the editorial page was a cartoon of a soldier saying to the President, "It's good to be home from the wars, sir. Now all we want is our old jobs back." The President was saying, "Oh, oh!" And the uniform was different, the President was not the Prime Minister, but otherwise it could have run in Nicolson's book. I found most of this book interesting, but it was sometimes disjointed, and I found the choice of illustrations particularly odd--there were all sorts of illustrations I would have liked to see, and the ones I did see did not always seem particularly relevant. The portrait of Coco Chanel, for example, did not do a particularly good job of conveying the line and shape of clothing she was making popular at the time. I have some sympathy for Nicolson in this regard--the author sometimes has very little to do with the figures printed in their book--but it was a thing to notice.
Jack Vance, Araminta Station. This was a very odd duck: a book that was fine as long as I was reading it, but, despite several very dramatic events, appeared to generate in me no narrative tension whatsoever. Whenever I put the book down, I felt I was picking it back up again because I am in the habit of reading and this is the book I was reading at the time. And yet that sounds as though the actual experience of reading it was horrible, and it wasn't, not at all. It just did not pull me forward in any way. Instead of saying, "Oh? Oh?" to the events of this book, I said, "Oh. Oh," and was content to take what Vance told me. I see, this is how their station is set up? All right. I see, this person was murdered? All right. This strikes me as possibly taking the authoritative voice a bit too far. I expected the ending to have something tied up neatly but not particularly well that it did not have tied up at all, so that was on balance positive.