What'cha reading?

It’s really intense! But I think worthwhile. The author said in interviews that he wrote the book trying to see if he could make himself flinch at his own writing, so very intentionally provocative in a way that I think is productive? Apart from that though the style is absolutely gripping, swinging from hilarity to horror within a single page.

I read a couple of reviews/interviews today, and it kinda helped me clarify why I feel so conflicted reading it as a white person. It hinges on a specific (but kind of inconsequential) event in the book, so I’ll put it behind a spoiler.

Thematic spoilers?

There’s a scene that takes place at a comedy club that usually has an all-black line-up/audience. A white couple walks in and is laughing along, and eventually the MC turns to them and asks them why they came. They keep laughing about it until eventually it grows into an awkward confrontation with the MC saying “This is our thing, you don’t get it, get the fuck out of here”. One reviewer pointed out that’s how it feels as a white reader of the text; whenever I’m laughing at the jokes or agreeing with political statements being made, I sometimes feel like I shouldn’t be. It feels almost exploitative? The scene ends with the narrator kind of subverting the point, but it really sticks.

So, my discomfort feels intentional and has me reflecting a lot. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this book. In that sense, I think it’s worth reading for anyone but it’s hard for me to fully recommend it.

2 Likes

I came across this review for 2007 about the Patrick Rothufss “The Name of the Wind” and Tolkein “Children of Hurin” and the reviewer preferred the latter to the former as evidenced by lines like

Rothfuss’s more calculated blandness of tone.

The whole article was interesting because the reviwever (a couple of whose books I have read and liked) articulates some of my own thoughts on fantasy fiction and talks about the name of the wind being a modern fantasy series in different ways.

The part that really sticks in my head is this paragraph towards the end which brings the Malazan series to mind, in particular this one quote by a character like Turin who also dies by their own blade

“There is no struggle too vast, no odds too overwhelming, for even should we fail should we fall —
we will know that we have lived.”
Anomander Rake, Son of Darkness

The irony is that the readers who read Fantasy because they want the uplift of a heroism with which they can identify—and who believe that heroism has no place in the modern world—are actually reading about precisely modern heroes. Kvothe, an individual who overcomes various life obstacles to triumph has plenty in common with Lance Armstrong or that guy in The Pursuit of Happyness. His is a didactic and a feel-good heroism. Túrin, on the other hand, is an individual who fights against a doom greater than he, despite knowing that he cannot win, simply because defiance in the teeth of an inevitable doom is the strength given to humans. His world—where triumph and glory are localised and temporary, and always give way to subsequent defeat—is in the deepest sense our world. That is what it means to be mortal. We are all going to die; it’s demeaning to waste our energy in schemes or fantasies that tell us otherwise. What matters, as with Túrin, is the character with which we face that annihilation. Of the two heroisms presented by these books, his is the greater; and the most relevant.

120 pages into Gideon the Ninth. I was worried that it would be a comedy/parody style novel, which I don’t really enjoy anymore, but it isn’t.

1 Like

I had similar initial misgivings/concerns and really do not understand how the writing and tone of the novel work as well as they do.

1 Like

I finished Abbadon’s Gate, book 3 of the Expanse. Each of these first 3 novels feels like a climb up in quality, and it really feels like book 3 was a jumping off point for the rest of the series. Interested to see where it goes.

I also read

Which got recommended to me forever ago, and since it is supposed to be a quirky, not super serious love story between a witch and a mad scientist, I decided it was a good tonal break from the bleakness of the expanse. I wasn’t a huge fan tbh. It kinda drowns in its own quirkiness, the first half wants desperately to be a series of unfortunate events, and crucially I just never ended up getting invested in the romance. It doesn’t help that the male side of the couple is literally “stock bullied nerd” archtype. Though it was under 400 pages long, so it was very breezy at least!

1 Like

Finished this last night (Gideon the Ninth)
Despite it not being a short book (around 450 pages) was a snappy enjoyable read.
Most of the comedic beats are from the narrator/protagonist, and as goofy/pulpy as the world is, it takes itself very seriously. Probably why it works for me. Also helps that there isn’t any parody or referential humor.
Closest comparison I could make would be the Evil Dead movies…?Maybe if Sam Raimi directed a remake of that Riddick sequel with the space necromancers.

2 Likes

Like everyone else here i am also reading Gideon the Ninth. i love the Dreadful Teens a lot.

3 Likes

I am currently reading The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov for the fifth or sixth time. I used to describe the novel as one of my favorites and maybe it still is but more than anything it is a comfort to read every other year or so.

1 Like


@Alveric
One of my favorites as well! Read this copy a couple of times.
For those not familar: Russian novel published in 1966 (actually written in the 30-40’s) in which the Devil comes to 1930’s Moscow to throw a party.

1 Like

I don’t think I have ever seen this edition! Who published it?