Saturday, February 26, 2011

Double the Fun, Book Perception and A Couple Comics.


Well, what do you know! It's the weekend! The last weekend in February, 2011! You know what that means... it's "Two-Fer Weekend" in My Little Corner of the World! You get two of everything today!

Here's your second Landscapey Picture. Not that the waterfall pic is not good enough, it certainly is... I'm just following the rules, sorry...


Ahh! Very nice...

OK, time to talk books...

So, I finished Devices and Desires by KJ Parker last night. It is officially on the Finished Shelf. I tell ya, I really enjoy Parker's style. I really wish someone here has read one of Parker's books, since I wondered something that I'd like to ask y'all... since Parker is an enigma, who's real identity is a mystery, there's much speculation as to who he/she really is, and, in fact, what his/her gender is.

Question #1: Do you think it's possible to accurately identify the gender of an author simply by the writing itself, and the word/structure/style choices the author employs? After having read two of Parker's books, I'm convinced the author is male. But I can't really go too in depth as far as why I think that, if none of y'all have read him/her...

Actually, now that I think on it, I believe Abbie and Rebecca read The Folding Knife. In fact, I can't seem to locate that book in my office anywhere, which makes me think I've lent it to someone and promptly forgotten about it...

Anyway, I finished Elantris and Devices and Desires, and wrestled with what to read next.

Ah, here we go... Question #2: How quickly can you tell if a book is going to be good or suck?

I asked Abbie yesterday (since she reads a LOT of books) how quickly she can normally get a good feel for a book. Meaning, can she tell right away if she's going to like a book? She told me she usually gives a book a nice, long chance to hook her into the story. I might as well make this an informal poll. For me, I'm easily derailed by problems on page 1. I don't have that sort of Abbie-esque patience.

What prompted this was trying to decide what to read next, from my collection. I grabbed Solitary, by Travis Thrasher (a book I won in a book website giveaway last year, which I noticed is autographed by the author!), and from page one I was put off. I made myself finish the prologue, but I could tell right away that the terse, first person style was not going to agree with me. Is that fair? The author obviously invested himself in this book, and it came stock with the requisite blurbs of praise from various genre semi-luminaries. But it went right back on the shelf, after a scant minute or two reading the prologue (and flipping to random spots in the book, to see if the style continued in the same vein).

So I grabbed another book, this time The Jackal of Nar by John Marco. I made it through the short prologue, and about 3 pages into Chapter One before likewise putting this one back. Too many names, characters, races and unexplained references. I hate that. Introduce way too much, too quickly, with the idea that I should already know what you're talking about. Like getting a bucket of water dumped on my head. If I have to go back and re-read paragraphs at the very outset of the book, I know it's going to be a slog. (And before you ask, it not only is definitely a Book One in a series, it is the author's debut novel. Nothing came before...)

So was it fair to ditch that one so soon? Who knows.

I grabbed a third book: Lavondyss, by Robert Holdstock. Again, plaudits and accolades, classic fantasy, etc. Three pages in, and back it went. A strong flowery fairytale feel. My patience already strained because of the previous two failed attempts, I slotted Lavondyss back on the shelf. Is that fair? Probably not. I may try it again later, but probably not.

I grabbed The Hammer next, by KJ Parker, and was IMMEDIATELY sucked in. And then, for giggles, at a stopping point, I opened up The Heroes, by Joe Abercrombie, and likewise was IMMEDIATELY sucked in. I now am doing what I dread... another round of simultaneously reading two books. But my point is, in both Parker and Abercrombie's case, I fell into the tale from the first sentence. I knew right away that I was going to get into these tales, and fast. They both grabbed me by my lapels and yanked me in, whereas the others seemed to actively push me away.

So what are your thoughts? Do you feel guilty chucking a book away after a couple pages? Do you force yourself to persevere in the hopes that the tale will ultimately hook you? Or do you feel life is too short to spin your wheels on books that don't grab you by the short-hairs from the word go?

OK, now for two videos...

Saw this one on Bits and Pieces...



I am honestly torn between thinking that is so cool I have to get one, and that it is so lame I'd never be caught dead with one. What say you?

Next... while I never really was a fan of the Zelda video game series (like many other people I know), I certainly do appreciate great artwork. First, CLICK HERE to go see a high-res version of an incredible piece of Zelda-themed artwork. Then spare yourself ten (or so) minutes to watch the timelapse of the painting being created...



And now, a pair of webcomics for you. First, a funny (admittedly geeky) Inception hybrid comic... I hope you've seen the movie...


That reminds me, still haven't fixed my "Shockwave Flash"-- You Tube problem. I hope I remember to ask Vye about it this weekend...

And for those that like their comics poorly drawn and absurd, some White Ninja!


Well, as usual, I had more stuff to prattle on about, but I don't want to trespass upon your patience any further. Until we meet again, good bye and good night!

Dave Dave

7 comments:

Rebecca said...

I believe I can tell if an author is male or female. I read one of KJ Parker's books and I believe she is a woman. (I don’t have your book, btw). I have a theory that if an author goes by their initials, there is a high probability that they are female. I also can tell if an author is not American…

I can get a good feel for the author in the first few pages. But sometimes if there is nothing stylistically jarring to me, it might take me several chapters to get into the work. I used to always finish a book, but now I just start skimming or just give up altogether. I believe in giving a book a fighting chance if it isn’t the type of genre or style you usually read. i think it is good to read outside of your comfort zone. But if it is laughably bad, pedestrian writing, or over- melodramatic…drop it!! Don't waste your time unless--you are related to the author, know the author, or are being paid to read the book.

The Writer Currently Known as Rory said...

I ditched "The Jane Austen Book Club" six pages in. After "Moon Over Madeline Island", which was so wonderful, I had a yen for another novel in which nearly all the main characters were female, but it felt like Karen Joy Fowler merely wanted to give the barest of character sketches before whiplashing into flashbacks to fill out characters I didn't even know all that well yet, and yet, just by their places in this book club, I'm automatically expected to know them well enough to want to know more.

logankstewart said...

This reminds me of my blog post a few months back (um... here) about problems with trilogies and how much of a chance to give a book. I still feel like a book deserves a bit of investment to get into and to love, because few people write with the awesomeness that Abercrombie and others like him possess. I think that faults on page 1 or 10 or something may be indicative of the rest of the novel, but they very well may not be, too. As for introducing exotic words and unfamiliar terms early in the works, this is stuff I like, and I genuinely feel like this is a smart way to write. It makes us learn the terms and what they mean as opposed to being told what they are. I think the worldbuilding and plot development is often stronger this way (like with Mistborn, for example).

Yay for Zelda! I saw that art last week. The series has definitely inspired some awesome artwork.

Hope you enjoy the Parker & Abercrombie books. I still plan on trying out Parker one of these days.

Anonymous said...

Alright, now I feel I can confess this - after "Understand" (which I previously referred to as "Intelligence" - ah, the irony :), I slowly lost interest in Chiang's book. "Zero" was cool, but then I found the next selection boring and quit.

To add to Rebekah's list of why one would plow through a book that doesn't grab attention - because the reader paid for the book! Fortunately, Chiang was from the library.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, *Rebecca.

Beth A.

Abbie Josephsen said...

I do not have the Folding Knife because I remember not liking it :) but I'll give the other one a try once you are done with it! You have to be more patient dave :) it might get good another chapter in! Sometimes people aren't good with starting out but then they get their flow and it's amazing! and no, I don't think it was fair for books #2, and def book #3 because you were jaded by not liking book #1 :D perhaps...
Good post!
But now that i said I don't have your book, I think I'll double check anyways, lol!

David Wagner said...

Reb: I can tell by some of the vocabulary that Parker uses that he/she isn't American... I'd be curious to hear some of the reasons you feel Parker is a she (other than the initials). Maybe we can chat soon, eh?

Rory: I noticed on your blog a quick mention of the love you have for Moon Over Madeline Island." You strike me as a reader whose opinion I can trust. I'll have to look into it a bit deeper. Not all genres agree with me, but I'm certainly willing to try new things...

Logan: That post you referred to is tickling the back of my mind - think I'll go back and re-read your thoughts. Thanks for the link. As far as introducing a bunch of info from the outset, I think there's a right way to handle it and a wrong way. Abercrombie is genius at it, and I liked the way Robert Reddick handled it in Red Wolfe Conspiracy, but Marco lost me quickly and badly... I may try to analyze it more closely, and post more thoughts on it.

Beth: A couple of Chiang's stories greatly impressed me, and some ultimately left me confused and/or unmoved. As usual, I gushed way too soon. Funny thing is, I realized it when I first heaped praise upon him, but I did it anyway. Again, some of his stories fully deserved it, but some of them struck me as well-intentioned swings-and-misses.

Abbie: Laythe told me he has The Folding Knife, so it's all good. And it's hard to be patient when I have soooo many books clamouring for my attention.

By the way, y'all, Abercrombie's book is TERRIFIC. I loved every page. Expect a review soon... haven't devoured a book like that in a looong time... actually, since I read the second and third books of Abercrombie's First Law series.