Saturday, November 04, 2006

If you can't annoy somebody with what you write, I think there's little point in writing." - Kingsley Amis

I have never been much for comic books. I have always wanted to be that cool, but just don’t GET them the way some other people seem to.

I’ve read Maus and Maus II; Gina got me hooked on Y: The Last Man which I happily read until it got predictable round about the fifth volume, Ring of Truth.

I have never read Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, but since I seem to be quickly developing an intense crush on the dark and lovely Mr Gaiman, I figured I should read the works for which he is most famous.

I wasn’t into it; I even said to a friend, “Mmmm, not in love, and I wanted to be.”
And then, suddenly, I was. Somewhere between Dream escaping the crystal and his encounter with John Constantine, I found that I was alternately terrified and horrified, but didn’t want to stop reading. Images from some of the more disturbing scenes haunted my dreams – as is only right and proper, I suppose, considering the book. Other characters were interesting – I especially like Death – but Dream was positively mesmerizing. I need to know more, I just requested Book 2, The Doll’s House, from the library.

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I read Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale in two days, and would have read it even faster if not for having to care for my pesky family. I am going to say this, and you are going to say, “No! Hyperbole! Can’t be!” but I assure you this is my honest and considered opinion:
The Thirteenth Tale is our century’s Jane Eyre. It’s all there – devastating fires, crumbling ruins, family secrets, governesses, gardeners, and neglected children, love, lust, life, and scandal - skillfully paying homage to the Brontes, but at the same time inventive and fresh.

And let’s face it, it’s not as if Jane Eyre is spectacularly complex and erudite literature – it’s a classic Gothic novel, following nicely in the footsteps of the likes of The Castle of Otranto and The Mysteries of Udolpho (all lampooned cleverly in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, easily the funniest of her books). In fact, I did not read Jane Eyre until I was out of college, and was surprised at how accessible, how readable, and especially how sensational it was. (I had much the same reaction to Gone with the Wind, which I picked up my first week of graduate school, thinking it would take me all semester to read; instead, I gobbled it down in about half a week, dreadfully neglecting my studies.)

The physical book of The Thirteenth Tale is lovely, and I have to own it in hardback. The only attribute that could make it better would be if I’d had to "sit with a letter opener and have the heretofore unknown pleasure of slitting the pages apart ourselves."

I ignore the fact that the author’s picture makes her look more than a little Suzanne Vega-ish. And she’s sporting Blackbird’s escapee bangs.

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Onward then, to finish Perfume, begin Glyph, and continue trying to churn out words, words, words for NaNoWriMo. (1900 so far. Already I am behind.)

9 comments:

telfair said...

It took me a little bit to get into Sandman, too -- I admire the graphic novel genre, but it was different than what I was used to. But I marveled at his ability to go into such detailed and non-linear Other Places in his mind...and by the end, I, too, was hooked.

Velma said...

Aaargh! I don't have enough hours in my days to read everything you make me want to read (or re-read)! Sandman - now there's a read I haven't thought of in 10 years...I have got to work on that time-stretching machine some more, the one that lets me stretch those hours between when the kids go to bed and when I fall asleep out into enough hours to read everything I want to.

(And could I use the word "read" any more often in a short little comment?)

kilowatthour said...

oh, i don't know. i think mr. gaiman looks rather fey.

but i do agree with you on 'jane eyre', and 'gone with the wind'-- soap operas, both of them! and i do not mean that in a derogatory sense. i love both of them dearly, but they're certainly no pillars of high literature.

i'm still slogging through 'gormenghast', though i may just give up entirely. i'm not in much of a reading frame of mind these days.

perhaps i will check out 'the thirteenth tale'. it sounds much better than 'boards and wards: a review for usmle steps 2 & 3'. urgh.

i shut up now.

Suse said...

Oh god how do you read so much? It's frightening.

Am glad you went to look at the website though ... and I need to tell you that yesterday morning I cut my fringe (American trans. "bangs") and it looks just like hers. Only blonde-grey, not fetching auburn.

What do you think of Perfume? Blew me away, particularly as it is written IN TRANSLATION! And did you too keep a running tally of how many different words the author (and translator) came up with for the word SMELL?

Lazy cow said...

Am not a graphic novel/comic reader (Blankets by Craig Thompson is my only foray into that area) but I'll have to get the library onto ordering Sandman. Am salivating over your description of The 13th Tale. I remember reading GWTW at 13 thinking it was the best thing (besides Jane Eyre) that I'd ever read. The movie was a huge disappointment.

MsCellania said...

Good Grief, Woman! You'll have me hopping over to the bookstore to get that 13th Tale in hardcover. Or maybe hopping over to amazon, although I hate to buy stuff there as every click is a little more death for the local Tattered Cover Bookstore, which is fabulous.
I'm impressed with you word tally so far. Pat yourself on the back -- and then keep writing!

Sarah Louise said...

Wow, the website for 13th is tres cool, I may have to read it just for that reason...

And what Mscell said: 1900 words is impressive, just keep at it. Rome was not built in a day...and all that.

jess said...

WHAT is she doing to the wall in that author photo? She looks like she's in love.

Rogue Librarian said...

Wait till you get to Seasons in the Mist in the Sandman series. It's my favorite