Tuesday, September 15, 2015

literary observations

1. B. was watching Under the Dome on tv. I wandered in as a woman was addressing a cadre (they were all lined up like one) outdoors. I said, "If they're under a dome, why is her hair waving in the breeze?"

2. Our book discussion topic was Maplecroft by Cherie Priest. Lizzie Borden battles Cthulhu: now that's a great concept. Unfortunately that didn't make it a good book. (Insofar as that, it reminded me of Babylon-5: great concept, lousy execution.) It was compelling reading: that I didn't get very far into it was solely due to lack of time. But I wasn't enjoying it. (Insofar as that, it reminded me of Stephen King: compelling storyteller, gawdawful stylist.) The narrators all sound alike - it's a bad sign when I have to keep flipping back to the start of the chapter to remember who's talking - and what they sound like is nothing like any 1890s narrator I've ever read before. (Or like Lovecraft, the other suggestion.) And not only do they keep behaving inexplicably, because the plot requires them to, they're baffled at their own inexplicable behavior.

Interestingly, hardly anyone else at the meeting liked it much either, and my impressions from the first part of the book were confirmed by those who'd made it to the end. The mysteries never get explained, I was told: either you get the references to Miskatonic University and such, in which case the overheated vague descriptions are just annoying, or else you don't, in which case it's just baffling. Authors trying for the mysteriously numinous is no good if they don't know how to do it.

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