Friday, November 20, 2009

Some reading has been accomplished (he passive-voicedly reported):

Stand on Zanzibar entertained, but afterwards there was something of the Chinese Food Effect (I'm sure there's a better metaphor). And I'm talking good Chinese food! It achieved what it set out to do, was well put together, and read fluidly. Unfortunately, the novel doesn't really take off in terms of other story or character. The characters are, well, fully two-dimensional. They make narrative sense, but they're not remotely like real people, and Brunner's difficulty with character is probably most evident in how everyone talks the same way, what my friend John Rogers called "├╝ber-rationalist." Certainly the novel was storeys above the two other sf novels I recently read, but it still didn't reach the level of literature (though it certainly had literary aspirations, it seemed). Another gap in its smile: the absence of female characters who weren't there to be stomped on by the men on their way to masculine fulfillment.

My third issue of One Story had a better tale than the previous two, "Finding Peace," by the late Sheila Schwartz. The others had felt overly safe, works that do exactly what they're supposed to do and nothing more. The Schwartz story—about a female cancer survivor on an Everest expedition—approached issues of hope and achievement with ambivalence (and some outright hostility). The omniscient narration was wonderfully locked-in, narrowly sealed inside the protagonist's perception.

I'm presently enjoying The Lost Shore: Rediscovering a Lost World, by Rowan Jacobsen. This nonfiction work is about oysters along the shore of western North America, mostly in the region of Vancouver Island. I've never eaten an oyster. Good book, though.

No comments: