Monday, June 26, 2006

The light reading fit came on very strongly

after some days of (relative) virtue in which I read vast quantities of Swift and Godwin and Malthus (and it all came together around one of those blinding insights that surely should have been obvious to me much earlier--advocates of human perfectibility are often enemies to or at least ambivalent about human reproduction--thus the strange obsession with population control that leads to Swift's imagining "A Modest Proposal" in the first part of the century and Godwin convinced that in the future people will become immortal and stop reproducing sexually & Malthus's horrible sarcastic cynicism about poor Godwin's rather lovely naivete--all right, enough of this, must save for the chapter...).

On Thursday I found myself hankering after trashy science fiction but was curiously thwarted (Morningside Bookstore has inconveniently moved their SF/fantasy novels to the downstairs annex, what a pity, and I forgot the B&N was on summer hours); on Friday I picked up a stack of used mass-market ones from the guy with the great collection of suchlike outside Milano Market on Broadway--I had already walked past but was irresistibly drawn back out of a combination of novel-allure & also guilt that I haven't bought anything there since I've been back--and late that night devoured a minor early Marion Zimmer Bradley novel I happened not to have read before, Star of Danger. Those Darkover books are absolutely delightful to me, they are so earnest and so trashy and yet so good all at the same time, and progressive in their politics in a wonderfully dated way.

On Saturday I had to go to B&N again to get two things I most immediately needed for work (possibly this was rationalization, both could have been obtained just as well at the library), but I lost all restraint and bought lots more things than was at all sensible (I find myself buying the most books when I've got the least time to read them; when I'm really on a good novel-reading kick, they almost all come from the library, the purchase works as a substitute for actual reading).

However in this case my purchases included two wildly (wastefully!) extravagant hardcover novels which I have now also devoured: Charles de Lint's Widdershins (very good, his books are always extremely enjoyable though somehow he is not quite as much to my taste as some others like Emma Bull for instance); and Laurell K. Hamilton's brand-new Anita Blake novel, Danse Macabre.

I held out against these ones for a long time, then happened to pick up a used one & loved it; I was sorry when the early private-investigator vibe devolved into out-and-out erotica, yet I still can't resist them when I see them in the bookstore. Hamilton's got a great voice for this character/narrator & while there is much, much, much too much detail about various things I don't really care about (and I am mystified by the aesthetic that makes these men with ridiculous eye-colors and waist- or sometimes even ankle-length hair and wearing corsets and silk and mostly bare-chested RAVISHINGLY ATTRACTIVE rather than cringe-makingly ludicrous) I did just read it in one hypnotic sitting, she's got a very particular storytelling talent that I greatly enjoy.

(Publishers Weekly review, as given at Amazon: "The uniquely complicated life of Anita Blake, the St. Louis–based necromancer, gets even more complicated when Anita discovers she may be pregnant in the 14th novel in bestseller Hamilton's vampire hunter series (Micah, etc.). Her sexual magic powers require multiple lovers, so there are six potential fathers. One possible dad, werewolf Richard, has trouble understanding that, baby or not, Anita's still a federal marshal who raises the dead and executes vampires. In addition, terrifying, life-threatening obstetrical challenges are involved, since the maybe-mommy has to deal with vampirism and several strains of lycanthropy coursing through her veins"--oh, and the most hilarious detail, not sure it is meant to be funny though, is that Anita has to go to the hospital to get tested for Vlad's syndrom and Mowgli syndrome: as the doctor tells Anita, "you only need the Mowgli test if you've had sex with a shapeshifter while he's in animal form"; Mowgli syndrome!).


  1. I thought Widdershins was one of de Lint's best - I've been a fan for a long time though and was delighted to see the story of Jilly and Geordie reach this stage. (Also really liked the story about war and the buffalo people). I interviewed de Lint for Bookslut this month, he's really a cool guy. (And the LKHamilton arrived in ARC form after I left home to go visit family - I am absurdly excited to know it is waiting for me. I'm like you though, why is long hair and violet eyes so alluring?)

  2. Jenny, I like what you said about how buying a book can be a substitute for reading it. I do that too. It's like I'm saving the books I buy for some time when the world ends and the library shuts its doors for good. I posted about the library vs. the bookstore here: You commented on my blog about Elizabeth Hand: any recommendations? And do you like Kelly Link? I think I will try Widdershins, which I looked at at the bookstore (but didn't buy!).

  3. I have read everyone of Hamilton's books and a few of de Lints. I read their books because some part of my 16 year old mind hopes and prays that the creatures in their books walk the Earth. I was only 11 when I read my first Hamilton book.(Blue Moon)It started me to write my own books about lycans and vampires, mind you I was writing long before then, but my stories were filled with talking animales and fairies rather then sex blood and death. Hamilton's books opened a door in to the world that I loved and showed a darker part of it, and one look was enough for me to be hooked. I love all of her books and I am working on owning them. I am now reading Danse Macabre and I cant wait to see what happens next to Anita and all of her beautiful men.(Micha is my favorite, Asher is a close seccond!)

  4. Good for you, Rosayln--I totally know what you mean.... Have you read Robin McKinley's novel "Sunshine"? I think that's my single favorite vampire novel, it's wonderfully good.... When I was little I too wrote stories about talking animals, and I am contemplating a novel about a shapechanger too....

  5. I can't say that I have but now I will look for it! I hope I will like it as much as you do!