Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Preponderance of Literature and Rants

I cannot for the life of me imagine why I read Pride and Prejudice. It is similar to reading Susanna Clarke after taking barbiturates, and without any magic whatsoever. (The reverse would have been much more appropriate, but I'm afraid sff has consumed my mind). The book is a whimsical exercise of extravagant manners and bursting with faint cries of approbation and frilly hats. Still, it is by no means an uninteresting book. Perhaps that is what makes it such an enduring classic.

Today I bought Peace and War, the Joe Haldeman omnibus consisting of all his Forever books (whatever). It is a most lovely book, with lovely red borders. I also borrowed The Book of the New Sun, after an abortive attempt at the NLB to scrounge for more Zelazny-related information. They, too, are most lovely books, and it pains me that I shall have to return them one day, especially as I am much convinced that I shall be liking these novels very much indeed, and I would be most miserable if they were not mine to reread whenever I wished. I have also The First Chronicles of Amber, which I purchased just before I came across a pristine copy of the Great Book of Amber in a second hand bookstore, an oversight for which I am greviously upset.

In an amazing stroke of fortune, I have come across three lovely bookstores at Vivocity and Orchard; PageOne, San, and Harris in Orchard MRT, and I expect I shall be patronizing them very often indeed.

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V for Vendetta is an great movie in terms of plot and execution. The message was not as well-constructed as I expected. It is a rather formulaic tale about dystopia made spicy with the inclusion of the figure of V, whose introductory speech I have memorized. Still, I can't tell whether he is supposed to be a bomb-throwing anarchist or freedom fighter, and I am inclined to believe the latter, under the circumstances. V for Vendetta has lovely pacing and cinematography; the bombing of the Bailey sent shivers down my spine. The symbolism is rather shallow, especially the fetish on V and 5, but that's alright; it's a rather smart acknowledgement of historical events and a rambunctious character idiosyncrasy Moore and the directors after him could exploit for weirdness. In any case, a great, but not revolutionary, movie, for all the revolutionary claptrap it depicts, like blowing up Parliament - what barbaric splendor mixed up against terrible echoes of recent history, a heady but vaguely shocking dichotomy.

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I must say I despise reviews that go, "This genre would be doomed if not for so-and-so, whose work has rescued the genre". It seems to me to be quite a dangerous, polemical, and unfairly critical statement that borders on exaggeration. Blase and jaded the professional reviewer may be, it is not up to his bibliomanic sensibilities to measure the worth of a book; if it is conventional yet well crafted and entertaining, and conveys its message arcoss effectively, then its a good book. No need to be groundbreaking or creative to make a work good. LOTR is by today's standards cliche; that does not make it unworthy of reading.

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Saw EVIL FOR EVIL today in Kinokuniya, the middle book in the Engineer Trilogy by KJ Parker. I'll have to wait until the trade paperback is published. Curse these publishers! And their large pricetags. And their big, bulky novels. Pah.

R Scott Bakker's The Thousandfold Thought
Scott Lynch's Lies of Locke Lamora
Aaron Allston's Betrayal
Steven Erikson's Bonehunters

These are a few books that have been denied me by virtue of their hardbackedness or tradepaperbackish vibes. The Mass Market Paperback is an object of immense beauty. After all that has passed, it is beauty.

The first Golden Compass pictures have been released. Daniel Craig as Asriel. How...amazing of him.

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1 comment:

the hierophant said...

Hence, one must read LOTR FIRST, before reading any other fantasy novel. And erm, Lord Dunsany, etc.