It's no secret I've been crippled by an awful writers block for far too long. Part of it has been, no doubt, depression. Part has also been knowing I had to write something I knew was going to be painful. Amazing, sometimes, how involved I can get in my own story, to the point where I emotionally react to something *I planned and plotted* when it actually starts appearing in typed words. I suppose it's just ego, like laughing at my own jokes.
Well, that chapter is saved and I am on to the next. Now I get to see if I was really stalled because I didn't want to write those pages, or because I suck.
Meanwhile, my "to be read" shelf has seen some pretty major ups and downs. My recent birthday increased the size of that shelf quite nicely - thanks, Daddy! Plus, I have kept with my habit of re-reading alongside new books. Believe me, when I am without a book nearby, I am very unhappy.
I picked up Arslanfrom Paperbackswap because I read in a review that the military take over of the US is hammered home, so to speak, by the invader/dictator raping two teenagers in their school gym, a girl and a boy. This appealed to me in that "sick fuck" way, sort of a more explicit Red Dawnsort of thing. (We all have our guilty pleasures.) It was also highly reviewed. However, I found it...lackluster and dull. It actually went into the short sample of "books I never bothered to finish." I leafed through it a bit, but it completely lost my interest. One of the things that bothered me the most was how we are given almost no information how a third-world nation could so easily and quickly take over, well, the world, and why on earth their leader would park his ass in a small Midwestern town in order to annoy the locals. If it's because this is a parable about how human beings can suffer...nah, I can't even give it that. Dystopian stories can be so freaking EASY - come on, what's more fun than destroying a civilization? This one was a big yawner. Back to PBS it goes.
Now, on the other hand, Ellen Kushner's The Privilege of the Swordwas great fun. You might know her from NPR, by the way, she is the one whose soothing voice accompanies the show Sound and Spirit. (I only hear her by accident when I leave the alarm clock set over the weekend and wake up early on Sunday morning.) I didn't know she also wrote swashbucklers on the side - and this is just a grand little example of such a light, romantic tale. Nice culture, amusing characters and a great central heroine I grew to really enjoy. I'll be putting more of her work onto my wish list.
Another fairly new author for me is Mary Gentle, and the book I got, just for the back cover text, is Grunts. Hysterical, especially for those who have read their share of high fantasy. Everyone knows the story as told by the warriors for good, light, etc. But what of their massed foes, the classically huge army of brutal, tusked, ugly cannon fodder known as orcs? This was a laugh out loud and bother-my-loved-ones by reading out loud sort of book. No one comes off looking good in this tale, from the vicious orcs themselves to the cannibal-assassin halflings who get thrown in to handle the more subtle wetwork. And did I mention the dominatrix halfling? Orcball? Kinky, masochist, elven reporters from Warrior of Fortune magazine? (Read for the ads, of course.) This was great summer reading, and another author I will look for again, even though I wasn't that impressed by the last book I read by her, A Secret History: The Book Of Ash. #1
And in the realm of re-reading, I picked up the early Harry Potter books, mostly because I channel surfed past a few of the movies lately. I never realized that three props necessary for the penultimate book, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, appear first in book 2, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. When the Malfoys, père et fils, go to Borgin and Burke's shop of evilness, Malfoy the younger admires the hand of glory, Harry hides in the vanishing cabinet, and Hermione points at the cursed necklace.
I'd love to see her codex.