Calendar Girl (kirilaw) wrote,
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Book post

10) Clothar the Frank (Jack Whyte)
This was very much a "Jack Whyte" book -- in some ways, even more of a Jack Whyte book than his previous ones. Whyte is (slowly, gradually) retelling the Arthurian mythos "as it might have been" -- set in 5th-century Britain, in a world that's dealing with the withdrawal of the Roman legions. In order to convince you that he's done his research, Whyte has a tendency to shoehorn in excessive descriptions of how drawbridges work (as an example), and this book is no exception. It's full of passages where Clothar (who is narrating in the first person) goes on about the functioning of things he should be entirely familiar with. The book is also an example of Whyte's fondness for backstory -- Arthur's actually in this one, which is a change, although he only shows up at the very end. Whatever else I say, though, I have to acknowledge that this was a fun read, and a good story. And sometimes that's all you need. ***

11)Fables: the Mean Seasons (Bill Willingham et al)
What can I say? I love this comic. It's just so good. This volume is not quite as good as volume 4, in part because there are several shorter storylines involved, rather than a single large arc. And the main storyline was a little unevenly paced, with the big reveal not sufficiently set up -- the mystery isn't dealt with in enough detail to give the reveal its significance. But the book is still excellent. It made me sniffle quite dreadfully. It's a good thing, when a story can do that. ****

12) Batman/Deadman (James Robinson et al)
I wouldn't, I don't think, have picked this one up on my own; it was handed to me by an individual (who shall remain nameless) who is trying to pull me over to the superhero side of the comic universe. Unfortunately, this is not a good advertisement for the genre. The art is very pretty, I give full credit for that. The story, though, leaves something to be desired, and some of the writing is just... painful. The storyline doesn't entirely make sense, either -- it feels forced and contrived, and resolved wayyyyy too quickly. The book raises issues and then fails to adequately deal with them -- they just get tied up in a neat little bow that doesn't actually make a whole lot of sense. Some of it may be my ignorance of all the superhero background story, but to be honest, I don't think it's just that. It's a shame, because the pictures really are very pretty. *

13) The Madwoman in the Attic: the Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination (Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar)
What to say about this book? It's something of a classic in feminist literary studies -- one of those books that everyone references and assumes you must have read. So I figured I'd read it. It was an odd experience -- although the book was pretty striking when it was published, I found myself feeling it didn't go far enough, particularly in explaining its choices of texts. What compelled them to group together the traditionally famous British women novelists (Austen, Bronte) and Emily Dickinson? And then extrapolate from a perceived commonality of themes a conclusion about the themes "women" in general wrote about? There's a problematic sort of chicken-and-egg thing going on there that I didn't feel was adequately addressed. And I don't understand the obsession with Emily Dickinson, but that's probably just me. That said, it is a good study, and includes some interesting analysis. I think it's just starting to get a bit dated -- which is probably a good thing for "women's literature" as a whole. ***

14) Lolita (Vladmir Nabokov)
Another "classic" I'd never read. I picked up a book called Reading Lolita in Tehran recently, and decided that I should probably read Lolita for myself first, before my reactions to it were too coloured. It's a problematic book. While I recognize the beautiful writing, it's really quite deeply troubling. On an intellectual level, I can distinguish between speaking protagonist and novelist, but on an emotional, gut-reaction level, I'm pretty disturbed. It's an uncomfortable head to be stuck in, and not exclusively because of the pedophilia. HH's attitude to people in general, but women in particular, is really pretty unsavory. And the "but I love her" excuse rings terribly hollow. It's probably supposed to. Nabokov's probably good enough to be unsettling me deliberately. What I don't understand, though, is all the reviews and blurbs describing it as a satire, and as a funny book. Let's just say I didn't see the humour -- not because of the subject matter, but because it was played straight, and I was too busy being disgusted by and pitying of HH to find him amusing. Am I humourless feminist? Maybe. The horror! ;) ***

1) Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (Susanna Clarke)
2) Colour: Travels through the Paintbox (Victoria Finlay)
3) the Well of Lost Plots (Jasper Fforde)
4) Daredevil: Guardian Devil (Kevin Smith et al)
5) Hy Brasil (Margaret Elphinstone)
6) Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War (Clive Barker)
7) Y: the Last Man: Safeword (Brian Vaughan et al)
8) Death: the Time of Your Life (Neil Gaiman et al)
9) Fables: March of the Wooden Soldiers (Bill Willingham et al)
Tags: books

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