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Carl
26 March 2014 @ 12:02 pm
Daniel José Older writes about ghosts, even when that's not literally true. In "Anyway: Angie," Reza's lost lover haunts her every step, pushing her to be reckless, to grieve instead of act, to risk her life for those who are too far gone to thank her. But Reza's ghosts also drive her to do better this time. If she wasn't good enough to do what was necessary before, then the only way she can exorcize her head is by not fucking it up again. Deciding to buy this story was easy for me; Older had set a fire under me, pushing me to move, and act, and fuck shit up. I'm so proud that this is my first edited story to be published.

You can read "Anyway: Angie" on Tor.com, or purchase it from any ebook vendor.
 
 
Carl
20 February 2012 @ 04:27 pm

            Nick Guest, The Line of Beauty’s protagonist, is a true aesthete, a student of style and interpreter of taste who considers himself the ideal candidate to replace Hogarth’s Analysis of Beauty. The novel’s prose is designed to reflect his perspective; Hollinghurst’s shrot phrases are crisp, his long sentences wonderfully sinuous, and he wraps the mundane, even boring details of Nick’s world in layers of beatific description and precisely registered emotional responses. The text portrays Thatcherite England in such a way as to express Nick’s love of the world around him and the opportunities it provides him to encounter beauty.

No matter how much Nick loves it, however, Thatcher's England is anything but beautiful.Collapse )

Yours,
C.

 
 
Carl
I told you I was going to write about spoilers, and now I'm finally going to do so. Instead of trying to unleash everything I've ever thought about the subject in one unspeakably long post, though, I'm going to break up my thoughts into several shorter posts, spaced out over time. In this way I strive to ensure that my loyal audience can never be certain that they've gotten what they want. It's all part of my evil scheme. And so, with no further ado...

BEWARE: PLOT/ENDING SPOILERSCollapse )

Yours,
C.
 
 
Carl
Two days ago I finished Steven Erikson's House of Chains, a novel I started reading in mid-September. That's a rather long time for me to spend reading a novel. I attribute this delay largely to the fact that during the school year I have to read somewhere between one and three novels every single week, but that hasn't always stopped me from inhaling giant fantasy tomes over the course of a weekend. Reading this series doesn't exactly work like that.

House of Chains is the fourth installment in Erikson's magnum opus, The Malazan Book of the Fallen. It's a ten-novel series that possesses one of the rarest qualities of any series that I'm currently reading; it's actually complete. An important note on my personal background: When I was eight I started The Wheel of Time, when I was eleven I started A Song of Ice and Fire, and at age seventeen I gave up on seeing either of those series finish. This ushered in a dark period in which I mostly gave up reading fantasy, only returning to the genre when I picked up Mistborn. I'm currently only waiting for the conclusion of five epic fantasy serieses; two of them have a semi-solid end date, but one of those is scheduled to conclude fifteen years from now. As may be obvious, a full, finished, epic fantasy series with a modern sensibility has a lot of commendable qualities as far as I'm concerned.

Read more...Collapse )

 
 
Carl
30 November 2011 @ 01:19 am
The People of Paper is a novel with a sufficiently strange format that Salvador Plascencia actually had a lot of trouble getting it published. It turns out that when you absolutely need to have part of your text be scribbled out, part of your text covered in black ink of various shapes and sizes, and part of your text vertically-oriented, some people start to wonder if publishing you is really worth the effort. This is not to mention all the little illustrations, the gang tags set into the text, or even the fact that, at the best of times, you have three viewpoints per page, each with its own little column.

It's really all very cute.

That being said, the wacky format (which, okay, I admit that I'm kind of a nerd about wacky formatting) is all in service of a very interesting plot, which I'm going to go ahead and spoil for you now.* All the characters get sick of their magical realist lives full of magical realist sadness and revolt against the omniscient narrator and author, Saturn. First, they try to starve him by living the most boring lives they can. Next, they try to kick him out by having so many different viewpoints that he doesn't fit on the page.

Why is this interesting? Well, it points out some of the fun problems of metafiction. The characters are all annoyed because of how sad their lives are and how little privacy they get with Saturn always watching them. They want to live their own lives, uninterfered with by jerk authors who want to use their tragedy to sell books. They want to be able to have sex in their own homes without an omniscient pervert staring at them. Who wouldn't, right? But here's problem number one: The author isn't the only one on trial here. We readers are just as nosy as Saturn. And, of course, we love sad story lines. The more tragedy, the more interesting the story. So when the characters fight Saturn, they're also fighting us. That leads neatly into problem number two, which I'm going to separate from this huge block of text for emphasis. Just wait and see.

Fictional characters are not real.

This seems obvious, I know. But part of our suspension of disbelief requires us to forget how fake the characters in novels are. In order to engage with them, we have to realize them in our own minds, convince ourselves that they're real enough to matter. But this kind of novel, the kind of novel that actually goes and petitions for fictional character rights, rips through that suspension of disbelief. If they're real, we shouldn't be prying into their lives. If they're real, we shouldn't be paying Salvador Plascencia $14.00 (softcover) to put them through unspeakable tragedy. But if we admit from the start that they're not real, why are we reading?

Sadly, despite all the questions the book brought up for me, I find that Plascencia's book works better in theory than in practice. When your two strategies are to make your book boring or to produce an incredible number of viewpoints, you're in danger of ending up with either a boring plot or a confusing book. I found that there were plenty of viewpoints that I just couldn't care about.

In summary, People of Paper an excellent book to think about and write about, but it turns out to be kind of a pain to read. I recommend it for people like me who get all tingly when they think about metafiction and who don't mind slogging through some nonsense to get at that pleasure. I don't recommend it for people who want a sensitive portrayal of women who've abandoned their male lovers, because HOO boy is this book ever harsh on women who've abandoned their male lovers. Ew.

Yours,
C.

*Expect a post from me later about spoilers. Why you can spoil a novel but not a folktale or an epic. What it means to spoil a work of genre fiction compared to a "more serious work." I can already tell how fascinated you are.
 
 
 
Carl
30 November 2011 @ 12:45 am
For anyone formerly subscribed to this journal when it was "Supergeniusvote," I'm sorry to inform you that we're under new management. The former owner of this account has given it to me so that I may use it for other purposes.

For anyone seeing this for the first time, welcome. My name is Carl E-L, and I will be using this space to write about what I've been reading recently and what I'm writing about, critically. I hope that you enjoy what I have to say.

Yours,
C.