Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Book Depository: Part III

Tuesday, November 28, 2006
107. The Adventuress - Audrey Niffenegger. For those readers who loved The Time Traveler's Wife, please move along. This is nothing like the novel. At all. The Adventuress is a novel in pictures along the lines of her previous book The Three Incestuous Sisters. On alternating pages there is a spare amount of text and a picture of the action. This is not spare like Don DeLillo's novel The Body Artist, but spare like a children's book which gives an idea of the action but the image is everything. The image here is everything, but this is as far from a children's book as can be. The subject matter is adult. The novel (in pictures) follows a young woman who was not born, but was made. There is kidnapping, attempted rape, the girl cocooning herself and giving birth to a cat, a love story with Napoleon and death. I imagine there is an audience for this, but I'm not it.

108. Gathering Blue - Lois Lowry. Gathering Blue is Lowry's follow up to her award winning The Giver. Gathering Blue kind of sort of inhabits the same world, though there only one brief passage in the book that connects it to The Giver, but it is part of a loose trilogy which includes The Giver. Where The Giver had a society that was filled with technology, Gathering Blue goes the other way. Kira, our heroine, lives in a village where there is very little technology. Her world has suffered some sort of calamity in the past. Kira's mother had to fight to even keep Kira because Kira was born with a deformed leg and with that deformity it was assumed she would not grow up to be able to work in the village. Kira has proven many wrong, but when her mother died of a sickness, Kira's world changes. She is taken to apprentice to be a Weaver because she has skills with threads and she is given the task of mending the robe of The Singer. With this Kira learns more about her world and herself and the truth about the village. Gathering Blue is a very good book for the YA audience, but it is not quite as powerful and moving and important as The Giver.

109. On Writing - Stephen King. Two parts memoir, one part writing lesson. That is what Stephen King gives us here. The first part of the book is King giving us episodes from his life as a boy and a young man and then as a young writer to illustrate how he became the writer he did. There is also a bit of a lesson about who King was before he sold Carrie and before the paperback rights to Carrie were sold. I found it very interesting. The second section is King actually talking about writing. There is some very good information here, in particular King has a thing about action verbs and advises against passive voice. That makes sense because every English teacher/professor I have met had a thing about passive voice, though they never explained it as well as King does here. King also has a problem with adverbs. This second section is worth reading. The final section may be of most interest to long time fans of King because he covers the period after he was struck by a truck and nearly killed. Overall: Excellent book for fans of Stephen King and for folks who want to read the thoughts of a best selling author on writing.

I have not read much King - just the four stories in Different Seasons (the stories that became Shawshank, Stand By Me, and Apt Pupil, plus one other which was probably creepier than the first three) and the first three Dark Tower novels. I view King the same way as Charles Dickens. I'm sure there are entire English Departments suddenly rising up in protest, but Dickens and King were both incredibly popular writers of the time. I do not know if Dickens was viewed as "Literary" at the time or if that distinction was even made, but he was a writer for the masses. One college professor loved to recount the story of people waiting at the docks for the next edition of the newspaper to come out so they could get the next installment on a serialized Dickens novel. Tell me that's not the Stephen King of 200 years ago.

110. The Elric Saga: Part I - Michael Moorcock. This omnibus edition collects three of Moorcock's Elric novels: Elric of Melnibone, Sailor on the Seas of Fate, and Weird of the White Wolf. This was my first introduction to the character of Elric, though not of the Eternal Champion concept that Moorcock has been working on for decades. Elric is a sorcerer king, and an albino with very weak blood who keeps himself strong through sorcery. Through treachery Elric loses and regains and loses and regains the throne of Melnibone and goes on various adventures eventually gaining the black runesword Stormbringer which has a power of its own and feeds on souls and compels Elric to act in ways he detests, but it gives him strength and he finds himself somewhat subservient to the power of the sword. This is classic fantasy with plenty of adventure and action and battle. I will say little about the view of women in these three books as the women all seem to be dependent on men and fall into bed rather easily. It is a bit much, but like I said, this is classic fantasy: the boy's club.

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