Sunday, August 1, 2010

Reading in July

When it comes to quantity, July was a disappointing month. Hopefully, though, the quality and complexity of some of the reads that were done will excuse that. I think more of the problem, though, is that I rediscovered the idea of reading more than one book at once – and then remembered why I stopped doing it. Starting seven books means finishing none, which is why, though I’ve read more than a hundred pages of Jonathan strange and Mr Norrell, Fragile Things, The Space Opera Renaissance, The Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, The Third Bear, The Inferno, and Dust of Dreams, I can’t say that I’ve finished any of them. Ah well, I suppose that I’ll have to focus a bit more next month.

Rereading the first Gaiman novel that I ever read – about which I was ambivalent about at the time – has led to a similar analysis of it, just with the positives massively magnified and the negatives rendered almost insignificant. I’ll be talking about this book at length in the future, so I’ll leave the rest until then.

After the Night’s Dawn trilogy, I was expecting incredible things from the rest of Hamilton’s bibliography. Pandora’s Star had parts that lived up to my expectations – Paula Myo and her battle against the Guardians, the aliens themselves, the novel’s conclusion – but there were just as many parts that dragged horribly, and the pacing seemed determined to let the latter category ruin the former. Were you enjoying that nail biting space battle? I hope not, because we’re now going to make a boat for the next fifty pages.

Though I’m still unsure as to whether Blood Meridian was horribly, brilliantly, depressingly brutal, or just horribly, brilliantly, brutally depressing, I am pretty sure that this is a book that deserves the accolades that it receives. That being said, the pointless, repetitive nature of the violence that was the book’s greatest strength was also its flaw, as the opening third-or-so felt aimless and failed to captivate me. Only when the Kid properly joins Glanton, and the Judge comes to the fore, did the story come alive in my eyes.

It says something about a book, though I’m not sure if that something’s good or bad, when, two weeks after finishing it, you’re still not sure if you enjoyed it. Parts of Gravity’s Rainbow were nothing short of revelatory, while others were exercises in willpower to slug through and felt like a mountain of bloated excess. Still, in the end, I’m glad that I tackled this one, even if my perceptions still need a bit more sorting out.

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