Wednesday, July 06, 2005
I dropped more dollars than I meant to
at the Bank Street Bookstore this afternoon (I'm vaguely justifying it as research--horror of horrors, I've got to do one more round of revisions on my wretched novel, and though it's for adults, the main character is a fifteen-year-old who resolutely conceals her emotions, even from herself, and must become slightly less opaque and repressed in the next version or nobody is going to want to publish it--since I also conceal my emotions and find opacity and repression wholly admirable qualities, this is a difficult task), bought three books and came home and read them all in a fit of greed. The first one I was startled to see, had been looking out for it but spaced out on the release date: Across the Wall, a collection of short stories by Garth Nix. I enjoyed it, but it is with no disrespect to Nix (who is one of the great fantasy writers at work in the world today--I truly love his Abhorsen trilogy more than almost any other books in the world, have read each volume about 6 times each since they came out, and if you click on that link you can preorder the BOXED SET--those two words are music to my ears) that I say that a collection of short stories will never satisfy me as much as a novel. There's lots of good stuff here, a sort of sequel to the last of the Old Kingdom books and also--my favorite--a great little story called "Hope Chest" about a magical girl cowboy. But the other two were even better. First, a book I've been wanting to read for a long time, Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now. Spectacular! I love near-future apocalyptic survivalist novels, and I love first-person teenage girl novels, and this manages to be a supremely intelligent and well-written amalgam (think The Cement Garden plus Z Is For Zachariah plus . . . oh, I don't know what, lots of great stuff though). It's really, really good. Putting aside everything else I liked about it, the thing I really value it for is its spectacular and memorable first-person voice. And then a most truly delightful novel, Terry Pratchett's A Hat Full of Sky. It's the sequel to The Wee Free Men; both are written most immediately for young adults, but they are as good and interesting as the very best of the other Discworld novels. This one was lovely. Of all these three, it's the one I'm going to read again in the near future out of sheer pleasure.