Sunday, 1 March 2009

Sunday Salon: A post NOTabout fantasy (well, almost....)

The Sunday

I thought for a change that I wouldn't talk about science fiction and fantasy! though I went to bed last night thinking sleepily that I did want to say that every genre of books has the capability of being very very good - it's what makes it so good for the reader, that interests me. What does the writer capture in the book that makes it genre-making? It needs looking - going - deep within, to a place where the self meets the figures that that particular self is afraid of, and in bringing it to the light, allows all of us to access that figure. Whether we use myths and legends, fairy tales, or previous classic books in the genre, doesn't matter; what does matter is that the source material reached is meaningful. As one reader pointed out in comments to my last post, books like Gulliver's Travels and Alice in Wonderland could be thought of as classics in science fiction and/or fantasy, though I disagreed as their effect on subsequent fantastical writing isn't genre changing as Lord of the Rings is. What do you think, my Gentle Readers? It is very easy to write trilogies using the quest motif of LoTR, or any other book previously written. Those are copies, though, shadows of the original work, and bring nothing new to life. Darn, I wasn't going to write about fantasy today!! It's such an interesting topic, though, and points that Le Guin raises in The Language of the Night, are worth thinking about.

Book Lust: So, on to non-fantasy for the day: I am waiting for Carl's challenge to begin - it's almost Once Upon a Time 3! And I am stockpiling fantasy for the challenge. (Hmm. There's that word again!) I'm waiting for the final two books in Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series to come in, so I can read them with Nymeth and Kerry this month. (oops, that's more fantasy!) In the meantime, while I was at the bookstore, this is what I did buy:
- The Serpent's Tale - Ariana Franklin (book 2 in the Mistress of the Art of Death series) Having just read book one, which might be on my ten best books of 2009 already, I had to get book 2. Right away. Look, it's not a fantasy!
- Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons - for Nymeth's mini-challenge, I'm doing a graphic novel, and this is a classic I've been wanting to read for a while now. This also gets Nymeth a Bad Blogger point, since hers was the latest review that prompted to say, I must buy this now and read it! So it's fitting it's for her challenge! ooh, look, it's a fantasy....
- Territory by Emma Bull - Just because I've been reading her since she came out writing in the 1980's and was one of the leaders of the urban fantasy movement. Territory is set in Tombstone, Arizona in 1881, and yes, deals with the shoot-out at OK Corral - and yes, it's a fantasy!
-The Blue Girl - by Charles de Lint - for my Canadian Challenge 2 - yes, I've only read one book so far, but I am going to finish it This is one of his latest books and got rave reviews when it came out, and it's set in Newford, so I can hardly wait. Another fantasy.
- Wicked, Lovely - Melissa Marr - Kailana gave the latest review for this, which prompted me to move the book up from the 'soon' list to get it now! The question is, can I wait for Carl's Challenge to begin? well, that's 4 out of 6 books that are fantasy!!! *note to self: admit fantasy is what I read.
- New and Selected Poems - Mary Oliver. I haven't been able to find editions of her earlier books, and since I read Owls and Other Fantasies last year, she has become one of my favourite poets. This is Volume Two, and now I'm looking for Volume One. The back of the book says "she is recognized as an unparalled poet of the natural world," and I find myself thinking of her poems sometimes when I am out on my walks by the river. I love the natural world and her poetry illuminates some of what I feel when I encounter nature. (hey, not fantasy!)
- Shakespeare Wrote for Money - Nick Hornby. I'm halfway through his The Complete Pollysyllabic Spree, and I find myself laughing on the bus or wherever I am! He writes in a confidential manner like we all suffer from the same book lust (we do), buying books and not telling exactly all that he buys, and never reading it all the same month it's bought! Plus he dislikes pretentious books, and boring bios, and illuminates why he does like something. And, most important, he loves Arsenal too. I wonder what he thinks of Arsenal's current run of 4 straight goalless Premiership matches? We need Fabregas back!!! (hurray! it's even non-fiction!)

So that is two points to Bad Bloggers. Well done! but I don't know what to read today, and for once the housework is done before Sunday, and we have no obligations and a dinner to go to so I don't have to cook. What shall I read today?

While I choose what to read today, I want to send you to Nymeth's post for today, because she writes about a cause dear to all of our hearts: one of fantasy's best writers, Peter S Beagle, needs our help to get a bigger print run for his new book of short stories We Never Talk About My Brother. Now, I don't know about you, but I consider a chance to get a collection of his short stories as a real find, and I consider him to be one of fantasy's treasures, and I would love to pay an author for the privilege of him using his gift......Best of all, this publishing site offers a chance to buy a signed copy, as well as a personalized signed copy, at very reasonable prices (ie $30 and under). Hmm, if I get it soon enough, I can add it to Carl's OUaT3 challenge..... and show the world that fantasy is read.......and for those who don't know, I read Tamsin last year, link here, and I still find it floating in the back of my mind. The ghost, the Wild Hunt, the Judge, the characters - it was beautiful, and if you haven't read it yet, it's a very good ghost story. He is a powerful, amazing, beautiful fantasy writer. He has an ongoing fight he has with the companies over the The Last Unicorn animated DVD from over 20 years ago, and the animated Lord of the Rings, which he wrote the script for, the link here to why buying from Conlan Press both The Last Unicorn DVD ( the 25 th anniversary copy came out in 2007) and the short stories will help Mr Beagle both financially and show him our support directly. I didn't know where to get a copy of The Last Unicorn dvd, which my daughter (as well as me) loved when we rented it from our video store last fall. So thank you to Nymeth for writing about him and bringing him to our attention.

So, for a post not about fantasy, quite a lot has worked it's way in, hasn't it? I might as well give in and say fantasy claims a large part of my attention and interest!

And, for a change, here is one of my favourite, and my husband's favourite, picture from our trip to London at Christmas. I've been meaning to do a post about London and will do shortly. It deserves it's own post, I've just been deciding between doing a historical tour with my photos, and a landmark tour (almost the same thing!) I'd love to do a literary tour, but I didn't get to as many places as I wanted to.

What are you reading today? What's on your mind regarding books?


Eva said...

Wicked Lovely is awesome!! That Western fantasy book sounds intriguing-I'll be on the lookout for your review. :)

zetor said...

I've read 'Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin and loved it . Looking forward to your thoughts on 'The Serpents Tale'.

Debi said...

Love the photo...makes me want to visit even more. Well, maybe not, but that's only because I already want to visit soooooooo badly!

I love Mary Oliver, too...she's definitely among my very favorite poets! I find her poems so simple and straight-forward, and yet not all either of those things. Yeah, that seems to make no sense, but I'm guessing you know what I mean.

Kailana said...

I hope you enjoy Wicked Lovely! I am looking forward to the third book coming out, I think, in April! Happy reading! (And, yes, you should just admit that fantasy is what you read! That's what I read!)

Nymeth said...

Thanks for spreading the word about Peter Beagle, Susan. And I agree, the signed edition is a good deal. I went with the plain one, though, so that I could afford to include a second copy in my giveaway tomorrow and thus spread the love a bit further :P But that he struggles at all just breaks my heart. SO unfair.

I hope you enjoy Watchmen! And all the other books you got, of course. All I've read by Emma Bull were short stories, but I really should change that. And it's settled: next time I get a poetry book, it will be by Mary Oliver.

Love your picture of St. Paul's!

Chris said...

I'm waiting for Once Upon a Time too!! I'm so excited about it :D And you have some great books planned! The Blue Girl is SO good...loved it!

Gavin said...

I always trust Le Guin and her deep understanding of the craft of writing. As for poetry Mary Oliver is one of my. favorites. I have had the pleasure of seeing her read her poetry and it was amazing.
As for fantasy I've been reading McKillip, Garth Nix and Sarah Ash when I need a break from other things.

Thanks for the information on Peter S. Beagle, one of my favorite fantasy authors, ever since I read a Fine and Private Place. I will visit the web site.

Gavin said...

Also, the Moon Phase thingy is cool! I'm going to try and put it on my blog.

Cath said...

Your photo makes me long for London. It's been several years since our last visit and there's nowhere quite like it.

What am I reading? Nick Hornby's Complete Pollysyllabic Spree and Moon Called by Patricia Briggs. Just started both after finishing Runemarks, a rather good YA fantasy by Joanne Harris.

Susan said...

Eva: I'm hoping I will love Wicked Lovely as much as others have enjoyed it! And do try Emma Bull if you haven't read her, she's a very good fantasy writer.

zetor: Serpent's Tale is right up on my to read now list, which means sometime this month!! Have you read it yet, since you also enjoyed Art of Death so much?

Debi: I know, my husband enjoyed this visit more than he has since he left his job in London over 15 years ago! He worked in Whitehall for several years, so he got to know London quite well then. We always want to go visit there! You and I will just have to meet there one day, lol!

I do understand what you mean by Mary Oliver's poetry! You say it exactly - so simple and not so. I love how her meanings ripple so I look at a line, and it increases in meaning the more I look at it. Indescribably beautiful, how she sees nature so clearly. I'm so happy you like her too! Now we just have to get a book of hers to Nymeth!! lol

Kailana: yikes, it's a trilogy! I didn't know that. Maybe this will be a year for reading series, though not quite like how you are reading them right now! I am in total awe at your stats these days lol

and yes, maybe we can start a "I read fantasy" group.....

Nymeth: oh, a novel of Emma's is such a treat! 'War for the Oaks' is her best known and earliest work. I have to reread it soon.

see my post today about the Watchmen :-D all thanks to your rave review, my dear!

Chris: Did you do a review of The Blue Girl? And Carl still doesn't have the OUaT3 up yet.....we're all waiting!

Gavin: welcome! You got to see Mary Oliver read her poetry, what a special occasion that must have been. The more I read her, the more I love her work. I'm just about to read Sarah Ash's vampire fantasy trilogy, and reread some McKillip. I'm glad I could help spread the word about Peter Beagle. I'll come check your blog out, meanwhile, I'm very glad to meet you, we seem to have lots of shared reading interests!

Cath: There isn't anywhere like it, is there? It has the same effect New York City has, on those that love it. The more I see of London, the more I want to see!

We must be on some same wavelength, since I am reading the Complete Polysyllabic Spree too! And you know i just finished Moon Called, I so hope you enjoy it! I'll have to look up Runemarks now! See if we have it over here yet. Thanks, Cath!

Cath said...

Susan, I'm absolutely loving Moon Called (already half in love with Adam, LOL). Thank you so much for the rec. I went to the Fantastic Fiction site to check and was so excited to see that there are three more books in the series. (Oh dear... another series started. Oops.)

New York is a city I very much want to visit. I've read quite a lot of books set there and feel like I already know and love it. Which is rather weird really.

My daughter's going up to London the weeknd after next and I'm really envious!

Susan said...

Cath: I'm envious any time i hear someone is going to London! My younger sister feels the same way about New York City. and as for the series with Mercedes Thompson, I've ordered the next two in the series!! I almost bought the first one in her other series too, it also looks good, but I have to be good after last week's haul :-D