Monday, October 24, 2005

Visiting a bookstore when one has no money is a very bad idea, especially when the display of new hardbacks holds such temptations...

Making It Up, Penelope Lively
Wild Ducks Flying Backward: The Short Writings of Tom Robbins
Shaman's Crossing, Robin Hobb
13 Steps Down, Ruth Rendell
The Trouble With Poetry, Billy Collins
Rereadings: Seventeen Authors Revisit Books They Love, Anne Fadiman, ed.
Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman
Sleep, Pale Sister, Joanne Harris

Strangely, making a list of them helped ease the temptation, and we left after several hours having only spent $5 on chai lattes. Yay virtue!

Speaking of lists, Odious and I discovered the other day that I am better-read than he, which horrified him and left me feeling pleasantly smug. At the library we found lists of 100 Top Novels, 100 Best Classics, etc, and went through them checking off the ones we'd each read. Even though I'd suspected that in this particular genre I'd read more, we were both surprised to find out the significant gap by which I left him in the dust. Of course, it helps that I've read nearly everything by Dickens, Hardy, and Forster! He is now determined to catch up, but since it inspired me to read several of the books I've been meaning to, we'll see how the competition goes...

Friday, October 21, 2005

I recently made a deal with a friend that I would read Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles if she would read the Lord of the Rings (since we had respectively managed to miss these fine books in our childhoods). I think she got the better end of the deal.

I liked the Prydain books, really. But they reminded me too much of a video game (Odious says I may be somewhat biased in my view of video games because of the ones he plays--yes, yes, it's true, he plays video games A LOT) in the linear quality of the quests and the lack of causality in the world itself. Prydain is too small a world for me to be really interested in it, though I suspect as a child this would not have bothered me so much. Also, the coming-of-age ploy is a touchy one--if you don't get it quite right it really doesn't work at all. I couldn't stand Taran--he was just a paper doll. There wasn't anything real about him, and his speech was so different from anyone else's that the dialogues were hard to follow. I did enjoy Princess Eilonwy to a certain extent, though if she were a real person I'd throw things at her. Gwydion was a paper doll too, so really I have to say the best character was Gurgi, with Fflewddur Fflam a close second. It's unfortunate that so often the main character has to be the least interesting (this is particularly true, I think, in TV shows) and the sidekicks are the ones everybody likes. Odious and I talked about this once, but I can't remember what our conclusion was.

That said, they're good books. I should have read them as a child (the reason for missing them is unclear, since our public library owned them--I think I was under the impression that my mother didn't approve of them), but they were still enjoyable in this first meeting. And the Welsh mythology is, of course, great fun.