Posts Tagged virtuous

The Winds of Marble Arch (etc) – Connie Willis

The Winds of Marble Arch is a collection of short stories and novellas by Connie Willis.  She’s a very, very good writer (hence the ‘virtuous’ tag)…

Reading the stories back-to-back in a collection like this makes me realize that death, consciousness, and disorientation are recurring themes in (some of) her work.  Whether it’s the end of the world because the sun has exploded, or a nuclear holocaust, or the Titanic sinking (Passage), or an individual’s death (Lincoln’s Dreams)… things fall apart. It’s rather unsettling to read so much of it back-to-back… I have had some really odd dreams!  Don’t worry, not going to share those.

I wish there were a few more of her quirky-toned pieces in here, in the vein of To say nothing of the Dog.  There are some on the funny side, but nothing that resonates quite as much as the, well, depressing ones.

There’s one called Chances (or was it Choices?) that reminded me both of The Yellow Wallpaper, and of Sherri Tepper’s the Family Tree.

Ah, the one about trying to find the conference rooms at a quantum physics convention was funny.  Either you know where the hotel room is, or you know where you are going, but you can never find out both at the same time.  It’s told more amusingly than that, and more accurately, but can I distinguish between real quantum physics and jokes about three-strings-walk-into-the-bar? Afraid not.

So, I have a few more pieces to read still, but I am going to start the Christopher Moore book Dirty Job, and alternate through the remainder of them.  Hopefully this will cut down on the creepy dreams!

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Music of Chance – Paul Auster

See it’s not only crap that I read.  Sometimes, if I am travelling, I will bring something more than the usual popcorn… and thus stranded in a hotel I will read something that I might not otherwise have come to grips with.

It seems a little unfair that I am ranking Music of Chance relative to my other recreational reading… as literature, it’s very readable.  But my tastes have gotten so accustomed to mystery, suspense, and fantasy that I was always naggingly aware that this story was not likely to get any more fun than it already had.

There are card games and bizarre characters. There are parallels with the main character and the runaway salesman karaoke guy in Duets, but the movie has a happier ending. In fact, this fellow should have put in for a transfer to Matt Ruff’s universe or Christopher Moore’s. 

Speaking of transfers, the creepiness of the two lottery winners reminds me of the sinister pair in the Tad Williams Otherland series, or the creepy pair in Gaiman’s Neverwhere. 

I suppose I am glad I read this, but it was a real relief to finish it off and dive back into the escapist books. (April 11-14, 2010)

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