Thursday, October 25, 2007

Quick Takes: Stephen King, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Charles M. Schulz

Lisey’s Story, by Stephen King: Nominated for the World Fantasy Award, I had high hopes for Lisey’s Story. They were not met. I had flipped to the back of the book, not to see the ending but to see if there is an author’s note or info about forthcoming novels. Well, there was an excerpt from Blaze, a new Bachman book (written a long, long time ago) as well as an author’s note where King praises his editor. It seems King is getting snippy about complaints about his novels needing an editor, and he explains that he has a very talented editor who helps get his manuscripts into far better shape. And, I have no doubt that King’s editor is a talented woman who does excellent work...but I understand the complaints about King needed an editor. At times, Stephen King gets long winded and his novels bloat around the edges. The complaints are similar to what Robert Jordan had received with the last several Wheel of Time books. There is a good deal of digression away from what seems to be the main storyline of Lisey’s Story and lopping off a hundred pages may allow King to deliver a tighter, more focused novel. Perhaps King’s editor did lop off a hundred pages and this is the tighter, more focused novel. My reading experience with Lisey’s Story was that there was not quite enough meat to warrant nearly 600 pages. This wouldn’t be my choice for a WFA nominee, but I don’t get to vote. Not one of King’s best works...or, perhaps it was “technically” a stronger novel, but I preferred The Cell over Lisey’s Story – if we want to talk about recent publications.

Alabaster, by Caitlin R. Kiernan: I am not too familiar with the work of Caitlin Kiernan. I’ve read a small handful of her stories, I believe, but that is it. So, I didn’t have any preconceived notions of Dancy Flammarion when I started Alabaster. In fact, I had to read the introduction to even know why we have this collection of Dancy stories. I guess Dancy is the heroine, of sorts, of Kiernan’s novel Threshold. The stories in Alabaster take specific instances in Dancy’s past, things only alluded to in the novel, and flesh them out. The stories were, I thought, kind of uneven. When the stories focused on Dancy they held my interest, but when Kiernan further set the scene with other characters and other situations that were going to tie together later...that’s when she lost me. But, perhaps this is because I haven’t read Threshold, I’m not sure. All I do know is that Alabaster isn’t quite enough to make me go run and find more of Kiernan’s work, but it did interest me just enough in Threshold to want to read that...assuming the novel is more focused than the stories were. I will say one thing, though. The cover art is exceptional.

The Complete Peanuts: 1965-1966, by Charles M. Schulz: As always, happiness is a collection of Peanuts strips. This set introduced Peppermint Patty, and Snoopy as the World War I pilot in his Sopwith Camel seeking the Red Baron. Plus we have some camp sequences with Charlie Brown and Linus meeting a boy named Roy, Charlie Brown pining over the Little Red Headed Girl, and more. Peanuts always puts a little smile on my face.

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