I haven’t been able to write much lately, as this blog entry will attest. I’m just sort of…empty…of the stuff that makes for good, solid writing. Yet I do want to talk about a few things and I do need something to do besides browsing the library. When the dogs go outside is a perfect time to dash something off. How convenient that this is Friday and I can do one of my “ooh, shiny!” things.
Today’s “ooh, shiny!” is about novels. Books are probably a trite subject for me to write about, but hey. It’s what I know. And one of the reasons I’m empty creatively is because I’ve been binge-reading. No, wait. “Binge” implies that I’m out of control or using the activity to escape something. Neither thing is true; I’m simply under heavy obligation to the Nashville Public Library. I’m in one of those “feast” times where pretty much everything I reserved has come available at once, and they’re all expiring after fourteen days, so I’m obligated to plow through them. Of course this begs the question: since they’re ebooks, isn’t all this waitlisting and lending-period stuff just a charade to prop up the conventions we’ve become used to? I guess it’s also a good way to track the licenses on books, but I think there just ought to be a better way. My problem with reserving books from the library has always been that what I’m in the mood to read on the day I reserve a title is not necessarily what I’m in the mood to read when the title comes available. I reserved Cloud Atlas six weeks ago. Now I don’t particularly feel like that kind of book, but here it is and I’ve got two weeks from 3:24am to gin up a good spec-fic New Weird mood. It probably goes without saying that I don’t reserve a lot of China Mieville anymore.
One of my better finds since the first of the year has been Jennifer Donnelly. She writes well, and as I’ve waded through 45 books in five weeks I’ve come to realise that many authors write adequately, some write decently. Very few write well, and Donnelly is one of those. I inhaled the first two books in her historical fiction trilogy–The Tea Rose and The Winter Rose because they had pretty much everything I love in the old style saga format. Women who practice medicine, women who are deeply loved yet not defined solely by their lovers, all told in a vibrant setting and with unputdownable thrills. I’m holding off on the third book because I’m given to understand it centers around an extramarital affair, drug addiction and mountaineering. Odd how after two perfect books she managed to stick three of the story tropes I enjoy the least in one book. If she’d really wanted to bring it home to hell she could have added clowns.
Donnelly has also written a YA title, and that was due back to the Library next Monday so I finished it yesterday. Revolution was one of those books I feel like begging people to read just so they know what “good writing” looks like. Oh, and also because I think they’d enjoy the story. But I know not everyone is as gung-ho on The French Revolution as I am. It’s funny because the book is one of those in that “book within a book” genre that seems to be big lately, and that I don’t really normally enjoy. You know what I mean. Those stories where the protagonist is foundering, finds a diary or a stash of love letters from An Intriguing Yet Familiar Person In The Past and then gradually comes to identify with said Past Person while reading (and making us read along with) the discovered material. I tend to avoid those because the ones I have read (eg. The Weight Of Water; Posession) are ponderous and kind of pretentious. I think maybe since she set it in a YA world with a very cynical and wounded modern-day protagonist, Donnelly was able to avoid that trap. Because I can honestly say that I enjoyed the heck out Revolution and I plead with anyone who loves music, History, good writing and young adult fiction to check it out. Not necessarily out of the library; I think this may be one I end up buying to reread.
I’m already running long here so I won’t bore you with tales of the other 42 books I’ve plowed through thus far, but I will say just one thing: I think the entire Memoir genre needs an overhaul. I’m heartily sick of books about people who can’t stop having sex with every person they meet and then thinking that makes for a good story. (I’m looking at you, Chelsea Handler and Russell Brand.)