Monday, February 21, 2011

Speaking of Genre...

Sing it, sister!

I have often said I don't like literary fiction, but that's really not true at all.  I really don't like literary fiction snobs.   Lianna explains that much better than I ever have--with just the right amount of righteous outrage, and the truly delightful image of smacking someone over the head with one of my favorite Ursula LeGuin books.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Genre Queen

When I did my totals for last year, I realized that I read a lot of fantasy and young adult--a lot more than I do of any other kind of book.  I can't say I have a problem with that, but I want to do a little more thinking about why that is. 

Part of it--the obvious part--is that there's so much out there.  I picked up The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms at the library a few weeks ago, completely at random--it was on the new books shelf, I recognized the title, you know the story.  The author's voice was kind of odd, and I was a little turned off at first, but after page 20 or so I was completely hooked.  Here's another author doing a bunch of things I often dislike and making them shine.

Example: gods are major characters.  That involves some intricate, well-planned worldbuilding.  What can the gods do and what can't they?  Are there limits to their powers?  Do they think like us?  It's so easy to gloss right over a lot of the subtleties of godhood--but N.K. Jemisin doesn't.  She's thought all of this through, and if I asked her a question that wasn't referred to directly in the book--do they need to cut their hair?--she'd know the answer off the top of her head, I guarantee. 

Yeine is the daughter of a disinherited member of a very powerful family, raised in a backwater country.  When she's summoned to the capital by the aging grandfather she's never met, she learns that she's been named one of his heirs.  Like it or not, she's caught up in deadly intrigue for the leadership of the entire world, the fate of the people she left behind, and the lives of the gods who lost the last war in heaven.

Another trick the author pulls is to tell the story with a voice that is speaking from a specific time in the future.  She's relating her story in a certain order, revealing events, history, and characters in the order you need them, not necessarily the order they happened.  This is another place where an author can go totally off track.  Sometimes these envelope timelines don't really add anything but bulk and false gravitas to a story.  That is not the case here--the narrator's position, as it's slowly revealed, is a very important part of the climax.

I think what it comes down to is trust.  If I don't know an author, I'm hesitant to trust them with a complicated novel with a lot of difficulty points.  But Jemisin nailed it, and I'm so thrilled to see that the sequel is already out and I can run right out and read it.  As soon as possible.  After I finish the other books I have checked out.  There aren't enough hours in the day.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sweet Sweet Opium

Brenda, being all Kindled up, has offered me her outstanding credits on Paperback Swap, which is going to get me fired, thanks a lot Brenda.  I've spent way too much time browsing there, not to mention the fact that getting books means the opposite of reading them to me.

But oh my God, it's so much fun to make a wish list!  And there are definitely some Huge Epic Fantasy books that I want to read, but that will take me weeks to finish, which makes them risky library bait.  I think that my new plan in March is to always make sure one of the books in rotation at any given time is a non-library book.  

My first PBS books are actually en route right now!  I'm getting Redwall, by Brian Jacques, which I almost can't believe I've never read, and Karavans by Jennifer Roberson, a writer who has done a series that I loved (Tiger and Del) and one I couldn't care less about (Chronicles of the Cheysuli).  Somehow it seems less risky to get this with free PBS credits than at the library.  Or maybe I'm just a complete nutbar--who knows?

Okay, I was sarcastic before, but now I'm really serious.  Thanks a lot, Brenda.  I am a kid in a candy store--a kid on some very addictive opiates.  It's a Willy Wonka experience.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Can't Breathe...Writing

SO BUSY.  Until yesterday, I did  nothing all week--almost literally--except work, parent, and write.  Wake up, get Adam ready for school, go to work, work, pick up Adam, come home, feed him/play with him/read to him, Mike puts him to bed, and I write till it's time to sleep.  Did not turn the TV on (okay, we watched some Curious George--that's parenting).  Did not open a book except on the bus ride to work.  My brain is fried.

But I'm on target page-wise, and being allowed to read again someday is a great inspiration.  Since I don't have any content to offer for the past week, really, this post will be a list of the books I had to return to the library unread.  I made a list, so I can run back out and check them out next month.  Because I really, really, really like to read.

In case you hadn't noticed.

Young Miles – Lois McMaster Bujold
Windup Girl --Paolo Bacigalupi
Troubled Waters – Sharon Shinn
Vampire Zero -- David Wellington
Deliverance – James Dickey
The Left Hand of God – Paul Hoffman
Slammerkin – Emma Donoghue
The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch
Her Fearful Symmetry – Audrey Niffenegger
The Alleluia Files – Sharon Shinn
Parable of the Sower – Octavia E. Butler
Grave Goods – Ariana Franklin
My Bonny Light Horseman – L. A. Meyer
Nocturnes – Kazuo Ishiguro
Passage – Connie Willlis
South of Broad – Pat Conroy

I'm not sure I'll run straight back out for all of them--some I'm willing to wait a while on. Her Fearful Symmetry I might get on audiobook if the reader is good. I'm also pretty excited to pick up Matched, by Ally Condi, about which I've heard very good things.

Twitching and writing,