Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Finished the gloriously strange Three to See the King, by Magnus Mills. To say anything about the plot of a Mills book is to, possibly, ruin it, the same as telling someone who's never heard of Little Red Riding-Hood that the story is about a wolf taking the place of a little girl's grandmother. That's the whole plot, and you shouldn't know anything about it until it's too late. The only thing I'll let slip about this Mills novel is that its protagonist lives in a house of tin of which he is very proud. End-stop. The other novel of his that I've read, Explorers of the New Century, is about men on an expedition. That's all I'll say. His novels combine dream logic and fairy-tale bluntness about the true nature of the world using spare yet evocative language. He's amazing.

Following that joyful experience, I'm facing the daunting prospect of reading John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar, which is anything but spare. I'll give it a try.

I also finished Camus's play State of Seige. It's very formal and melodramatic in its language and staging, like opera or Greek drama; I can't imagine what it would be like to perform. There are huge monologues by individuals and choruses. Death and pestilence come to a city and impose an austere existence plus totalitarian rules. Only Diego fights them, pushing other people to do the same. It has some interesting moments, taken as a commentary on the politics of the time, but its emotions are so overstated, there's little feeling to be found.

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