That's it. I made it to 90%, started the last story, can't read another word. I found Vance's use of archaic language annoying, and his pseudo-archaicThat's it. I made it to 90%, started the last story, can't read another word. I found Vance's use of archaic language annoying, and his pseudo-archaic or made-up fantastical words irritating. I want to know what the words that I read mean. I am happy to use a dictionary. When a writer uses words that aren't in the dictionary, I'd prefer that he provide some context clues for the words--which I suppose Vance does from time to time--and spare use of these neologisms for important elements of the story. What Vance does is drop neologisms and purple prose in service of setting and atmosphere. And for many of these stories, a disproportionate percent of the text is setting and atmosphere. The characters are profuse and often flat. I didn't get a sense of who many of them were, and I rarely cared for or about any of them.
Maybe I was born too late for Vance. I do see how he's idiosyncratic and perhaps unique. I just didn't enjoy reading at least three-quarters of this collection. A few stories such as "Noise", "Sail", and "The Moon Moth" redeem it, but that's pretty slim pickins for a book of this size....more
Really liked "Baba Makosh" and "The Soul in the Bell Jar". "Success" really grew on me as I read it, and "Through Mud One Picks a Way" had an anthropoReally liked "Baba Makosh" and "The Soul in the Bell Jar". "Success" really grew on me as I read it, and "Through Mud One Picks a Way" had an anthropological approach to aliens and ecological values, which I appreciated....more
Willrich's style is fast-paced, marked by clever dialogue and witty descriptions, and I think it's suited best for the short story form. I enjoyed the first half of The Scroll of Years, but something happened between me and the book in the second half. I put the story down over a long weekend and picked it up again after three or four days, and I came back confused. So much happens in the novel--again, fast pacing--and there are a number of important characters, and I think that taking a break from it mucked up my enjoyment. The narrative's recollection of minor characters, like Brother Clement, also slowed down the reading process for me. Brother Clement makes a short appearance at the beginning of the book, is left behind, and then is mentioned in passing somewhere in the last third of the book. This was one of several times that I got hung up during my reading of the second half. "Who?" was one question, but also "what?" and "wait, what happened?" There are several stories within the story (legends and such), and I think the extra-narrative quality of these added to my confusion.
It's a good book that I think will be better for me on a second read. As of the first reading, I like Willrich's short stories quite a bit more than the novel....more
The excerpt from Gaiman's new novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the highlight here, and the book looks promising. I didn't find the short storThe excerpt from Gaiman's new novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the highlight here, and the book looks promising. I didn't find the short story, previously published in his collection Fragile Things, satisfying. The most interesting aspect of it, the alien quality of the girls at the party, wasn't fully realized, and the ending was too ambiguous. Perhaps Gaiman was trying out a metaphor for how different teenage boys and girls are, but the alien aspects of the girls presented are, to my mind, too interesting to throw away, which is what he did with them in the end....more
I liked Finch. I liked City of Saints and Madmen a little less than Finch. I made it about 2/3 of the way through Shriek and put it down. The prose isI liked Finch. I liked City of Saints and Madmen a little less than Finch. I made it about 2/3 of the way through Shriek and put it down. The prose is overblown, too gaudy and self-conscious for my tastes. The premise is absurd and the characters unlikeable and self-absorbed. I don't care about them. They clearly care about themselves a lot more than I do. I can't finish this book....more