Current Feelings Towards the Books I’m Reading

Stephen King, The Dark Tower: So this is it, eh? You’ve conned me out of $35 twice and this time I don’t feel as bad. But what’s with the artless offing of random pivotal characters? Why don’t these deaths mean anything? And if I have to read one more extended palaver or endure some deus ex machina scene momentum involving mental telepathy, I’m going to scream. Even so, I remain hooked, if only because I’ve read thousands of your pages and I’m too far in to quit. And even I have to confess that you’ve been a steady steed, soldier.

Richard Powers, The Time of Our Singing: I bow to your erudition and beauty! I’ve read the seven books before this and you seem to me the best of Powers’ oeuvre. How were you neglected so long? I’ll tell you why, padre. You’re a bit overwhelming sometimes. Sure, you’re not as much of a cerebral blitzkrieg as your bro, Operation Wandering Soul. But I find myself in a strange predicament. I’m drawn to your bright bulb like a steadfast moth, savoring your language and feeling my heart palpitate when you put the Emmett Till incident into context. Still, with all the musical terminology and digressions into relativity, I get the distinct sensation that I should stop and possibly apply a hacksaw to my skull to let some of the air out. You’re getting better at this thing called plot, Time, but a little more narrative momentum would obviate me contemplating the hacksaw, no?

Rachel Seiffert, The Dark Room: You talk the talk. You walk the walk. The principle behind your staging is to be admired: stark and clinical. Your perspective is grand. Don’t get me wrong, kid: I dig ya. But at this point, you may be a bit too detached for my tastes. We’ll see how it goes.

Sarah Waters, Fingersmith: Your victimization of a young woman in the Victorian age angle reminds me in many ways of Crimson Petal and the White, except you’re shorter and there are some exciting plot twists. While I have a suspicion you’re short-changing us on some giddy language possibilities (and what’s with the heavy-handed, obvs “Gentleman” approach), there’s absolutely no reason why you should be in the remainders pile (which I saw you in a few weeks ago). Is there no justice?

Ian Rankin, Strip Jack: You’re good, but you’re more of the same. I’ve been following your adventures, deliberately padding them out over several months, hoping to see how Rebus’s adventures evolve over time, but does Brian Holmes’ promotion really count as character development? I’m starting to grow weary of your corny jokes, which were fun in the earlier novels, but now stick out like sore thumbs intended to space out the novel. Perhaps I’m being too hard on you. Please tell me it gets better.

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  1. Doesn’t Fingersmith rock? I thought the plot was pretty thrilling, and have been trying to push the book on people ever since as a way to read something that is at once familiar (the Gentleman, mouldering castle, etc.) and yet totally new. Yay Sarah Waters, I say.

  2. LOVE Sarah Waters. Fingersmith rocks. Another writer that does the turning something familiar into something new as well is New Zealander Elizabeth Knox. Her books are tour-de-force page-turners — especially recommend the vampire novel, Daylight.

  3. I’m a Sarah Waters fan too. Read Tipping the Velvet first and then Fingersmith. Loved them both, but haven’t read any of the others. Are they good? I loved the Richard Powers too. I still think about from time to time. I thouought it more powerful than Galatea 2.2.

  4. The thing I really appreciate about Waters is how she writes about lesbian issues very universally. Which takes more skill than the confrontational approach.

    As for Powers, I’m ready to conclude (on the basis of reading everything else he’s written) about a third of the way in that this is his best novel. Some passages are so skillfully put together that they’ve literally had me shaking. “Singing” was criminally overlooked by its readership and deserved a lot more than it got (even though it appears to have received some press upon its release).

    And thanks for the Knox rec, Gwenda. I’ll have to check her out.

    Jesus, why am I always reading the books that all of you folks have already devoured? 🙂

  5. Bookdwarf, in answer to your question about Waters’ other novels, the friend who got me into Waters ranks “Fingersmith” first, then “Tipping the Velvet”, and then “Affinity.” (I think that’s the title.) From her comments I got the sense that “Affinity” is one of those that you read only if you are in the mood to vacuum up an author’s entire oeuvre.

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