Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Post-vortex update

It is not quite true homecoming (no New York, no cat!), but it is a tranquil point of rest, something for which I am extremely grateful!

Ottawa was tough, but it was important to be there.

I read some great books in airports and airplanes en route there from Philadelphia last week (in particular I loved Doris Egan's Ivory books - a Jo Walton recommendation - extraordinarily good lucid storytelling and an immensely appealing voice t o boot, making me hope that she had published tons of other books I could now read too, only it seems that really she is [probably sensibly] writing for television mostly these days - her blog is full of interesting things that would be useful for novelists as well as writers of television episodes, though). A mediocre Tanya Huff novel, purchased in the Detroit airport, helped pass the time. Katherine Howell's Frantic is a pretty high-quality rendition of a genre I like very much (in this case, it's paramedics and cops in Sydney, with more of a thriller than police-procedural vibe), and I'm now near the end of the next one in the series: definitely recommended. Daniel H. Wilson's Robopocalypse (Brent warned me!) is markedly inferior to Max Brooks's amazing World War Z: definitely read Brooks instead if you haven't already but are pondering the purchase of Wilson. (Wilson has some notable gifts as a storyteller but he is not truly curious about the more logistical elements of what would happen if robots took over the world, how resistance fighters actually organize their resources, etc., which makes him ill-suited to excel in this particular genre.)

After that we got sucked into the VORTEX, so there was pretty much no time whatsoever for reading or websurfing, thus the silence here. Did manage to read one really amazingly great novel, Megan Abbott's Bury Me Deep. What a book! There is an obvious comparison to James Ellroy, not just because of the nature of the subject matter (and the charge of the writerly investment in that sort of material) but also because it is so unusual to find propulsive storytelling in combination with such an amazingly distinctive writerly voice. For this book Abbott has come up with the most extraordinary idiom, lush and baroque and stylized yet also with the sort of concision and selectivity that one thinks more often of spare prose only possessing: anyway, I really loved it, and am eager to read more of hers, including the brand new one called The End of Everything, which I have pre-ordered for Kindle...

And so it was a great relief to be back in an airport yesterday and with all the time in the world to read books again! I could not resist purchasing a huge armful of real old-fashioned paper books at Chapters in Nepean, many of them on deep discount, and the travel time was honestly at that point just a great respite from what had gone before! Two very good crime novels, really exactly to my tastes: Mark Billingham's Bloodline and Denise Mina's The End of the Wasp Season. Two writers I can't get enough of...

Finally, a couple of links:

The real-world setting for the adventures of Thomas the Tank Engine.

My favorite bit of Roland Barthes on Cy Twombly

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the Doris Egan recommendation. I've just finished the first book, which was as delightful as you promised. Though I'm usually terribly bored by this sort of thing, I can't wait for the other two volumes to be delivered.