Archive for May 26th, 2010

May 26, 2010

Some Book links

…a few things I’ve been meaning to link to:

Paul Charles Smith recently reread Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan trilogy. My love of Peake is well known to those who have been reading this blog for a while, but if I haven’t yet convinced you of his greatness I hope that Paul will.

Adam Roberts has been reading (for the first time, and I suspect it will be the last) Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books. Fans of the series may not find these posts entirely enjoyable, but I think they’re excellent. A sample:

As Samuel Beckett’s career progressed, his writing became more and more pared down, less and less verbal, increasingly approaching the asymptote that was at the heart of Beckett’s bleak vision: silence. The great, productive paradox at the heart of Beckett was that one of his century’s greatest verbal artists mistrusted the ability of words ever to articulate truth—not just particular arrangements of words but verbal art itself. The Unnameable, in that near-sublime novel, says: ‘I’ll speak of me when I speak no more.’ For him silence is ‘the only chance of saying something at last that is not false.

To step briskly ab sublimi ad ridiculus, Jordan’s career manifests something similar. Insofar as Heroic Fantasy is a fundamentally narrative artform, to which readers go in order to experience the pleasure of following the movement of characters through time, Jordan says: no. Wotix is the closest he has yet come to a book that disperses that force of narrative momentum—that great strength of the novel as a mode—into a great swarm of indistinguishable coexistent characters and non-progressions. If the traditional novel takes the shape of a quest, a linearly horizontal progression through narrative time, Wotix explodes that linearity in a bewildering near-dimensionless knot or tangle of non-progression.

The above, combined with their shared connection with Russia, makes me wonder if Roberts is distantly related to the Pandeys.

Larry Nolen has also been reading the Wheel of Time books, though in his case these are rereads. He’s generally worth a read, and though he’s kinder to the books than Roberts, these are still thoughtful, critical, and funny.

Casting actors for imaginary movie versions of books is generally great fun (and something I have spent far too much time on). A few months ago Gail Carriger discussed who she would like to see play her characters here. I love most of her choices, except that Paul Bettany would clearly make an ideal Professor Lyall.
Now Celine Kiernan has a competition up on her blog where you get to cast her three main characters for the chance to win the trilogy – which means getting hold of The Rebel Prince many months before the rest of us. And then I will be forced to hunt you down and commit violence upon your person. Go look.

Gav at the NextRead blog has been hosting a short story month. Plenty of excellent story recs there, but here I am talking about an Edith Nesbit story that I love.

You’ve probably already read Sridala Swami’s interview of China Mieville. If not, do so immediately. I admire both of them, and they seem like they’re both really enjoying this conversation.

And while on the subject of Mieville, Jonathan McCalmont wrote this epic review of The City and the City. I liked the book rather a lot when I read it last year. But it’s a good review – I’ve only recently discovered McCalmont and so far I’m a fan.

Also, Roswitha (like me) has been keeping a record of everything she reads this year. She’s also (unlike me) a wonderful writer, and her Book Munch posts are a joy to read.

Finally, and not particularly book related: Aadisht is now writing an opinion column for Yahoo India. The first two columns are here (I took that picture!). I may be biased, but I think they are hilarious. Sanjay Sipahimalani and Jai Arjun Singh are also writing for yahoo. Nothing but good can come of this.