Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I promise there will be a real blog post soon.

But if you're looking for something to read, you should go and check out the excerpt of Jo Walton's Among Others at Tor.com.

I've been thinking about writing a Jo Walton post all weekend, because I went out Saturday night to buy eggs, to make bread, but the little convenience store 3 blocks away only had extra large eggs. Honestly, why? Surely it would make more sense to have regular-sized eggs on hand, for people who buy them both for eating plain, and cooking?

So I walked another 8 blocks, to the big grocery, where there were eggs, standard large size, thank you very much. And I bought them. And I would have walked home, but it was raining, and I thought, oh, I could walk to the university bookstore and see whether they have Among Others in stock, because I am curious about it and have heard that it is appearing early.

They didn't. What they had was Lifelode. Lifelode! Which I have been curious about for two years, but thought I might never encounter in the wild.

And $25 is a lot of money to pay for a book without seeing it first, especially when you are a reader who is either enraptured or entirely unmoved by the author's books. I don't mean this as a criticism of Jo Walton; it's just that she writes books that move a lot of different people, not all of whom are me.

Anyways, I looked at Lifelode long enough that I missed the first bus. And then the second. And then I gave up and bought it, resolving to skimp on the gluten-free treats and other luxuries, and reminding myself to hang onto the receipt in case I didn't care for it.

I needn't have worried though, because I love it just as much as I love The Prize in the Game, which I still think is the closest that any book has come to duplicating the music and intensity of feeling that I associate with opera in print.

You should buy Lifelode if you loved The Prize in the Game, or if you have a spare $25 around, but you probably don't -- so if you see it in a bookstore, then for god's sake, take the time to look at it, because it's worth missing buses for.

Anyways, I was uncertain about whether I would like Among Others, because what if I felt like I was reading it through a filter that stripped it of all emotion (which, sadly, is how I felt about both Ha'penny and Half a Crown, and I don't really understand why, which makes it all the more vexing. I'm pretty sure it's me, and not Jo Walton -- I should be clear about that.) I liked Farthing very much indeed.

But I'm reading it right now, in between bouts of working on another project, and it is very good indeed, at least at 15% of the way through. I'm not going to link to any of the reviews that are all over the place, because I'm of mixed minds on whether they'll be any good; I only started to read each, and then decided they were telling me something I'd rather hear from the book itself.

Instead, here are two quotes:

‎"Until the end, knowing them brought us nothing but good. And in the end, I don't think they understood. No, they did. They were as clear as can be. It was we who didn't understand.
I wish magic was more dramatic."

"Because this is after the end, this is all the Scouring of the Shire, this is figuring out how to live in the time that wasn't supposed to happen after the glorious last stand. I saved the world, or I think I did, and look, the world is still here, with sunsets and interlibrary loans."

And if they don't make you curious, well, then nothing else I can say would.

I might post a real review, if I think there's anything I can say about it when I'm done reading that will be useful to you. I might attempt to review Lifelode, except that it would be better if you read it without hearing me go on and on first.

The best thing about Jo Walton's writing, for me, anyways, is that she knows how to write about the searing intensity of feelings, not just joy or sorrow or raging anger, but everything in between, too, tranquillity, and even the light stirrings of desire. And she knows how to write about people not only feeling, but people seeing other people feeling, and reacting; and she does all this without the least bit of telling, rather than show. I don't know how she manages it, because it ought to be telling, especially in the latter case -- but it's always wonderfully natural -- the realization rising naturally from whoever is having it.

I suppose this is a real post; it's just sort of a scattered excited one, though I'm very serious, not feeling flip at all. A nice contrast, then, to diss reflections.

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