Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Books gone unmentioned

... because I know you all have been paying close attention to my reading list and the shuffling that's been going on.

I'm kidding, of course. But I'm feeling a need to flagellate myself a bit.

I am a bad reader. The constant chant of "writers must read!" rings in my ears daily, and I'm still a bad reader. Fickle. Nitpicky. Refuse to suspend my disbelief. Easily distracted. Can't stop looking at the nuts and bolts and let the big picture unfold.

People rant about this writer or that, and I have no idea who they're talking about. There's so much out there to read. We love to gripe about how much crap is on the shelves, but honestly? You can drown in good stuff too.

But a few words about books that will otherwise go unmentioned here:

I read about a third, maybe a half, of Jack Vance's Lyonesse. Started out innocent and gradually slid into cruelty -- which was impressive. Very nice, very subtle. But he lost me in transition to a new generation. A few predictable developments later, I put the book down. Felt badly about it, for what that's worth.

Got a copy of The War of Art last month. Put that one down after a quick scan. I am not at war with my art. Sorry.

And then came Perdido Street Station. Now, I've heard all the ranting about China Mieville. Picked the book up in the store, read the first couple pages. Remembered it later when the book made Tor's list of influential titles of the last decade.

The prologue paints a very clear picture. So clear that I was wishing I could move my chair back, turn down the volume or find some way to get the author to stop yelling "BLEAK! DARK! UGLY!" at me. Yes, I get it, thank you.

Chapter one is better, but unfortunately for this book I'm giving myself the homework assignment of reading the work of the authors who will be speaking at Viable Paradise. So Perdido Street is back on the to-read pile. Almost feel like I owe it an apology.

Picked up Elizabeth Bear's All the Windwracked Stars at the library. Fortunately, I read the first four or five of Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series (and enjoyed them) long ago, so I feel safe putting off reading any more of his work. Hope I can get in a fair sampling before October.

Are you a bad reader? Do you feel obliged to finish a book you've started? How often do you have no idea what writer someone is raving about?

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