Watching: Jericho; Bones; Lost
It's time again for a Vicious Circle Review. There will not be a quiz. Or will there?
I love stories. I love stories so much I love stories about stories. I love bad stories, for existing, because you can't get good stories unless you risk bad ones.
Here's the paper and audio titles that I tried to read in the last three months:
Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer:
I was somewhat enjoying the voice of our translator, but the pseudo history parts were awfully tough slogging. The whole work was suffering from a crippling case of literary disease. I might have kept creeping along by skimming the crud, until--hello, pedophilia!
Oh, and pedophilia as a positive. *insert proud clapping here* Even better. That reminds me of when I had to read Death in Venice in Uni and the prof spent classes insisting there was nothing wrong with middle aged men loving boys, and hey that whole Zeus and Ganymede thing was probably platonic. Having just read Ovid in my classics class, I could, and did, strongly refute, with references!
So, anyway, that was obviously my full stop. It went back to my library like a bad seeping rash.
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger:
This also suffered a tad from literary disease, but it managed to survive. It's a fairly good--even great, in parts--spec-fic read, which is why it's even more annoying it won't call itself that. Sigh. What's more annoying that literary disease? People who are so desperate to have it that they recoil in horror from the reality that they have written a genre book. I read it in one sitting, and it went back to my library with eye rolling, more for its sad denial than its content.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini:
I borrowed this from the library as an audio book, mainly because I had a new mp3 player and I wanted audio books, and this was in and it was new. I stopped at the first track (about three minutes). I wanted to stop sooner. It was front loaded with a whack of navel gazing, as Miss Snark would say. The character was just sitting in a park musing endlessly in generic empties about life, and I just completely glazed over. I don't need explosions--they help, but I don't *need* them--but I can't get into stories that don't freakin' story. I just know this is proudly marketed as 'literary'. Ugh.
Sword Sworn by Jennifer Robinson:
This was a purchase. I've read the other Tiger and Del books, and this bills itself as the true last of the series. The problem is it's more than 400 pages, but it's a short story. It's short story that got padded out to a novel, but didn't add anything like, you know, plot or stuff. Worse, it had a reoccurring dream, and it opens with it. No, I'm not kidding. I could say worse. What saves it is that, if you've read the other books, you want to know what happens to these characters, so you gird yourself and pick away until you finish it. It's disappointing, but it's not series that wouldn't die embarrassing...
Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas:
Snatched this baby up at the bookstore, a tad nervously. There's four books in the Wallflower series, and they've not been of even quality for me. *careful wording follows to remain spoiler free* Ultimately I've stuck with them because I enjoyed the characters, even though the asinine conventions sometimes make me insane. I was very disappointed to find that this title really didn't compare to the rest of the series for me, and the conventions, which had sometimes made awkward unnatural crap in the other titles, had, in this one, completely obliterated the whole thing. This didn't read like a romance at all for me; it read like punishment, for reader and chars alike. I own most of Kleypas' works, but I don't think I'll be buying future titles.
Don't look Down by Bob Mayer and Jennifer Crusie:
Another Library loan. I've never read Mayer before, but I've read Crusie from her early Harlequin days. This is no Faking It, it's more Fast Women, but with gunfire. I did finish it, but it's a very bad sign that I read this only a few weeks ago and I cannot remember any of the character names. Wait, the lead was Lucy, which I only remember because Crusie has a weird habit of reusing her lead character names (Lucy is in a much much better Crusie title, Getting Rid of Bradley).
Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson:
The first few chapters are exposition heavy, and I'm surprised that this book ever got past an agent, even a nice one like Agent Kristin. If I was an editor, and I know the world would weep if that happened, but if it did, I would say this book starts at chapter three, and I would ruthlessly flush the prologue and it's little friends down the crapper. Anyway, the fun in this book is the voice of Betsy, kind of like Buffy got vamped instead of slayerfied. I never liked Buffy, of course, but Betsy, at least, does not have that petty whiny tearfest irritation. Sadly, Betsy also doesn't have James Marsters, served naked. Still, it's a quick fun read.
I did notice something though. We get intro'd to Det. Berry at the start of chapter 9. Six pages later, he's become Det. Barry. Halfway though chapter 18, he's back to Det. Berry. It's easy to see how this can happen when you're in the throes of drafts. What amazes me is that, before a book goes to print, it has been read by *hundreds* of people--agents, editors, marketing, and all their assists. I can understand how the author might miss this, but that nobody else caught it is...weird. I guess they all skim, or something. Shocking.
As it happened, my library, including all branches, did not have anything else by Davidson. I did look at the bookstore, but none of the other titles looked interesting. Sad, 'cause I was hoping Betsy had promise.
A Fistful of Charms by Kim Harrison:
Finally, a series that is actually getting better with each offering. I grabbed this up at the store and ran to the counter, whooping. This is the fourth book, and while the others certainly had enough bits that kept me coming back, this is the strongest yet. It was over 500 pages and I thought it was too short. There was a part in particular that had a cut that actually made me growl in annoyance. I wanted that offscreen on, dang it! There's a lot of vamp stories out there, but so many of them suck. After Angel, this one is one you need. This series has depth and development and stuff. And if you don't laugh and cry and weep like a little girl, you are beyond stories. Highly recommended.
There were a few other titles that I libraried, and were so lacking that I not only bailed pages in, but forget their titles. Rather than rifle google, or ask the government if I can take a peek at my file in their archive of Books Checked Out By Weird People, I'll just say they included a western antho, a shakespeare mystery antho, and a book that I think was called the traveller, that managed to take secret societies and lots of violence and yet make me nearly nod off in the bath.
If you've had a book lately that made you think, especially if it made you think, 'well at least this paper can be composted', please mention it. There are stories out there. Which one is yours?