Neil Gaiman says:

Neil Gaiman says:
pic by Allan Amato

Friday, August 25, 2006

Tailspin

Too much sleep during the day = (you guessed it!) INSOMNIA!

Usually I read to make myself good and tired for bed, and last night was no exception. Btw, I'm feeling much better today. The pain has diminished and my plumbing seems to be reasserting itself (which is a good thing.) Just to be sure, I have concocted some yummy brownies from the "LooneySpoons" recipe book (a prime ingredient there being prunes! And am also planning on making a nice batch of Mom's patented bran muffins later today.

But back to trying to sleep! At least the weather last night was cool; it makes going to bed easier when you can have a duvet on you with one leg out and be reasonably sure you won't freeze or bake. My fever has broken, so that makes it a lot easier to sleep too. I finished the book I was currently reading around 1:30am and was finally able to get some shut-eye.

Ok, now on to my rant!

What summer reading would be complete without picking up a couple of books from a favourite author or two? I grabbed Anne McCaffrey's "Nimisha's Ship" and Morgan Llywelyn's "The Horse Goddess" from the library before my trip and figured I'd be in good company. I am an Anne Fan. And anti-Anne stuff will not be tolerated here (unless you want the equivalent of kicking an active bees nest like a football with resultant buzzing and stings!) That being said, I was really disappointed with the book I finished the other day.

I had hoped that "Nimisha's Ship" would be of the Ship series AM had begun so many years ago with "The Ship Who Sang." Sadly, it was set in an entirely different universe (The Coelura universe, if you're interested.) I kept waiting for shit to happen in this book, and nothing ever did. Man! There was no conflict, no crises, no character development! There was no danger--nothing ever happened that put the main character in the least bit of trouble. Can you imagine what a bore to read that would be?

The first like 70 pages were all backstory about a really repressed high class society and the main character eventually breaking free to go out on her own. Great, I don't mind hanging in there so that the heroine can go and do stuff. But she never got to do stuff! Even the aliens while not being completely uninspired were just way too happy to get along with everyone. Everything felt like there was a dusting of happy-drugs in the air that made everyone get along hunky-dory (somewhat like on Star Trek :-)

The single character that had been sort've introduce off-camera as it were as a threat NEVER materialized and nothing was ever resolved with this guy. He was just sort've in the background as a possible threat. Wooo. Another character that caused minor friction was introduced almost at the end of the book and then conveniently shipped offplanet before she could cause any..um.. ACTION???!

Ok, whew... Um, I'm not a big-name professional writer, and I am grateful that as a woman who is an octogenerian, Anne McCaffrey continues to write and 85% of the time really entertain me. But MAN! If this book had been submitted to an editor by a not-so-famous writer, it probably would not have seen print. I am sad to say that it was a waste of my time and 388 pgs I will never get back *sighh*.

Hmm, well one disappointment doesn't mean the world's ending right? The author Morgan Llywelyn who brought us "Bard" and "The Red Branch", in my opinion the best retelling of the CuChullain cycle (and on my top 10 of fav books) would not fail me...

But my G*D, "The Horse Goddess", a book I'd been looking forward to for awhile (I tend to "save" books that I'm really interested in to read later..) managed to do it. It is an earlier offering, printed in '82 I think, and runs at a hefty 480 pages. Where "Bard" and "The Red Branch" were intense tales of adventure, with haunting heroes with depth and beauty, "The Horse Goddess" just faltered and failed.

First, we have a heroine who is supposedly "free" and her own person, except for the majority of the introduction she just sits around and whines about her situation, not really doing anything to change it at all. There are descriptions in here that would put ME to shame; endless rambling about chewing leather, beading boots, breaking horses, collecting dung, making clothes, making cheese, drinking, eating etc etc. ENDLESS. This monolith could've been edited to about 300 pages with, well, probably a lot of difficulty. Just because you enjoy doing research for your book, doesn't mean the rest of us want to hear all about the cultural background of all of your main character's encounters with background characters. We don't care! The background stuff has nothing to do with advancing the plot and just bogs it down even more.

Urrrg, so frustrating. And I like stuff like Jean M. Auel's "Clan of the Cave Bear". There are limits though; you will eventually overwhelm and yes, bore, your reader. Of course I'm talking to someone who penned this like, 24 years ago, but still.

I, unlike some people I know.. never skim when I read. I respect the work of the author and I am a good appreciative reader (at least I think I am :-) I WAS SKIMMING this near the end. Ohh, the endless descriptions... Thomas Hardy would've been proud (check out "Return of the Native" for some endless rambling descriptions of furze and moors and stuff.)


Ok, so now I have put everyone off McCaffrey AND Llywelyn, which was not my intent. I merely was disappointed when my expectations for satisfying story-telling were not met. Please, if you have not read either ladies, turn to some of their stronger work: "The Ship Who Sang", "Dragonflight" or "The Crystal Singer", are some of my favourites from the Dragonlady. With ML, try "The Red Branch". This is a book I clearly remember my Dad reading to us around the table and we just all started to cry together: one of those intense, familial moments that stay with you. Of course we did the same when we listened to Jennifer Warnes sing Cohen's "Joan of Arc", but perhaps we are just mooshy that way. Or Celtic :-)

Off to make muffins..!

1 comment:

Doc Savageland said...

Wow. That's some review! I hope you fins something better to read fast! I have some stereo manuals that you might find more exciting?