Tuesday, April 04, 2006
In other news, I've read a lot of books lately and not written about them. A while ago I finished The Scar, by China Mieville. I was pretty excited about this book after reading the author's previous work, Perdido Street Station, which I loved. However, everything Mieville did right in Perdido, he did wrong in Scar. The characters were not nearly as intriguing, and you could tell he was trying too hard to make them intriguing, which ended up coming off as inauthentic. The main setting of the book was ripped from the pages of a Neal Stephenson novel. And the plots were boring. There didn't seem to be a particular direction in which the story was going, it just kept plodding along, going this way and that, randomly. There were scenes that were good though. One chapter contained one of the most exciting naval warfare scenes I've ever read, but scenes like this were few and far between. As the story progressed he kept introducing new ideas from left field that he forced to jive with his story and then tried to make each one bigger than the last, sometimes physically bigger in case the importance was lost on readers (which it was). It just didn't do it for me and my disappointment was compounded by my anticipation of a great story, because I loved Perdido so much. He's written another one, called Iron Council, which a friend of mine assures me is the best of the three, but it'll be a while before I read it I think.
In a rash of poor novels, I also read Michael Crichton's Prey. The story started off interesting enough and it kept me engaged. The characters are pretty flat, but hey, it's Crichton and luckily it's not character driven. By the end of the book, however, the scenes and scientific revelations just kept getting more and more unbelievably presented and that really bugged me (no pun intended). The concept of an evolving, self-aware, nanoparticle swarm is scary, sure. But the way in which he told readers about each new thing the swarm was "learning" to do got a little silly. I was disappointed by the end. In all honesty, it felt like he was writing a book to turn into a movie. It had all the right elements for Hollywood: scary science stuff, rocky marital relationship, girl with big boobs (he actually writes that in there), (unnecessary)explosions, chase scene, deaths, and happy endings. Blah, blah, blah. I know this may be harsh criticism, but I really feel this way: there is way better "beach reading" out there.
Now I've moved on to something a bit more heavyweight. I've decided to revisit an old high school nemesis of mine and give William Faulkner another shot. In order to do that, I've chosen one of his best beloved titles, Light in August. So far I am loving it, actually. I'm not finding it hard to read or confusing to follow. In fact, I likened his (lack of) use of punctuation and unique grammatical constructions to IM conversations. In an IM world, high schoolers may start finding Faulkner more approachable. Shifting time, multiple conversations occuring at once - not the problem it once was! In any event, this book has really grabbed me. The characters are so real I can see them. I find I want to know what happens to them next and in just a few short pages, Faulkner has made me care about these people with whom I have relatively little in common. I hope it continues like this, cause if it does, I could get into reading this kind of story.
To cap off the evening and a long post, I'm preaching tomorrow at Seabury. About angels. Should be a good time. Hope my voice gets better. And also, I want to say hi to Rose from Louisiana soon to be in Florida.
You might enjoy I book I read while on vacation, The Collar (Jonathan Englert), about life inside a Catholic seminary.