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The Dirty Streets of Heaven (Bobby Dollar, #1)
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2012 Reads > TDSOH: Is this indicative of Tad Williams' work?

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message 1: by terpkristin (new) - added it

terpkristin | 3636 comments So, this is the first Tad Williams book I've read and, as I've indicated in other threads, I find it pretty terrible. It's poorly written (or at least in need of an editor), rambling, and uninteresting.

That said, I know there is a lot of TW love here, including if not especially from V. So...is this really a good intro to TW and his style? And if not, what is?


message 2: by Leslie (last edited Nov 06, 2012 08:19AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Leslie | 44 comments I actually read some reviews of this book to see if this one was typical and I found a lot of people that were disappointed, and a couple that said this was his worst work. So, I don't think you can judge by this book. I lemmed today 100 pages in. What really burns me up about this book is that a lot of people kept talking about how new it was and how you've never read a story like this before I keep wanting to scream This is not new! I mean, "Wings of Desire" did it over 20 years ago, and all you have to do is google stories about fallen angels and you will be taken to a "goodreads" page with a list of books featuring fallen angels. Also, the hard-boiled detective motif is trite right down to listening to Miles Davis while drinking hard liquor straight. That has also been done to death. I'll try something else by him later.


message 3: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new)

Tassie Dave | 2237 comments Mod
I've read several Tad William's books. Even though I enjoyed "Dirty Street's of Heaven" it is nothing like his other works and I would rate it least of those I've read.

If it didn't have his name on the cover, I'd never pick it as a TW work by the style.


David Sven (Gorro) | 1582 comments I don't mind it so much, but yeah, it's not exactly a standout paranormal/urban fantasy.


message 5: by Tamahome (new) - added it

Tamahome | 5096 comments I believe most of his books are 1000 pages.


Chris  | 57 comments This is my first TW book and am loving it. I love the noir-like tone. Bobby Dollar is a great character.

There have only been a few times I got impatient with the descriptive prose. Not nearly as many times as I have with George R. R. Martin's pages of sigils and trenchers. :)


message 7: by Rik (last edited Nov 07, 2012 07:28PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rik | 768 comments I've read his Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy as well as the Otherland quartet. Whats always bugged me about Williams is that his books are about three to four times as long as they need to be. In the two series I mentioned there were often very long chapters and scenes that were wholly unnecessary to the furtherance of the plot and were obviously just there for padding. It made those books tedious at times to read. Overall I enjoyed these books but they were still too long.

I'm only about 100 pages into DSOH but so far I'm liking that it feels much more streamlined than his prior books.


message 8: by Daniel (last edited Nov 07, 2012 03:58PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Daniel | 6 comments Well I am not a Tad Williams fanboy but I have read most of his books and enjoyed them. This book is so different it felt like another author wrote it, I disliked it and was disappointed.
The story had significant holes for me (I mean how did the advocates get to deaths prior to mobile phones and cars...???). The supernatural detective noir theme has been done and better by the likes of the Dresden and Nightside series. It felt childish in plot and amateur in style.
This is not his best work, for my favorite read War of Flowers. The Otherlands is solid but while some of it is awesome and imaginative in other parts it reads long.


Paul Harmon (TheSaint08D) | 639 comments (I mean how did the advocates get to deaths prior to mobile phones and cars...???).

Pony Express...carrier angel...burning bush


David Sven (Gorro) | 1582 comments Paul wrote: "(I mean how did the advocates get to deaths prior to mobile phones and cars...???).

Pony Express...carrier angel...burning bush"


Things got done slower, longer queues, and the population was lower?


message 11: by Sam (new)

Sam | 33 comments I've been away for awhile from both video and audio, but this thread caught my eye in the daily thread because I'm currently working through Shadowmarch I thought when I picked it up that it was considered his best work. If that's the case I'm not overly impressed. That book is slow to start (granted it's about a 30 hr listen and part 1 of 4), but I'm at least 1/3 in and not having trouble putting it down for something else. I'm curious for those who are more well read in William's work how these two compare. Also, what was the reason for selecting this particular book for the month?


Leslie | 44 comments It occurred to me this morning that Tad Williams' writing style might be more suited to straightforward fantasy than urban paranormal or the noir/hardboiled detective story.
Usually in fantasy exposition is a plus because the world you are building is largely unknown, whereas in urban fantasy or detective stories we know and understand the world for the most part, so you can leave some thing unsaid and in fact it's better in a mystery to allow the reader to fill in the blanks themselves.


message 13: by Rik (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rik | 768 comments Halfway through now and I'm really liking this book.


message 14: by Hunter_rose (new) - added it

Hunter_rose | 6 comments You have to respect a writer that is willing to go outside of their comfort zone and write in a genre that isn't their specialty. Granted the work may not stand up to their previous efforts but at least they're trying to cultivate their craft. That being said I was much more impressed with his Otherland Series which I thought was a clever way to incorporate a fantasy theme in a non-traditional setting. I also though the "War of the Flowers" was an extension of this effort and made a even more interesting read.


Lindsay | 593 comments The cynic in me suggests that it might have more to do with market share and sales of urban fantasy/paranormal romance vs science fiction/fantasy than cultivating craft.


message 16: by Kevin (new) - added it

Kevin | 700 comments Having read some interviews with Tad Williams I believe it's a mixture of both (as it often is with this sort of thing).

Tad Williams isn't a fledgling writer, his name alone generates enough sales to make a decent living as a professional writer. This means that he doesn't need to write to the current "flavor of the month market" to get his books sold. So if he didn't want to write an Urban Fantasy story, he wouldn't do that just to write for a certain market.

You'll often find that established artists will be influenced by what's currently popular. (Just look at how many big rock bands from the 70's let disco creep into their music during the disco craze.) This has as much to do with artist being inspired by the world around them as with them writing for a specific market.


Sandi (Sandikal) | 1212 comments Now that I'm halfway through the book and having heard the S&L Podcast this morning, I'm going to jump in here to agree with Terpkristin. I haven't read anything by Tad Williams before, so I can't compare this to his other works. However, I've read a decent amount of urban fantasy and noir thrillers. This doesn't succeed on any level for me. It's awfully repetitive. How many times does he need to tell us that time doesn't exist in Heaven or in the Outside? I get it.

This book reminds me way too much of The Dresden Files, but it's not as good.


message 18: by Rik (last edited Nov 14, 2012 11:01PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rik | 768 comments About 40 pages from the end and I can comfortably say this is Williams's best overall book IMO (Note I have not read his Shadowmarch series or Tailchasers Song). His Otherland series had a more interesting concept and was better in points but it was also tedious at times with chapters and chapters of wholly unnecessary scenes other than for Williams to try and show off some cool artificial reality he'd thought up. In DSOH he kept things streamlined and charging straight ahead which I really appreciated.


message 19: by Rik (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rik | 768 comments Sandi wrote: "This book reminds me way too much of The Dresden Files, but it's not as good.
"


I've only finished the first Dresden book and found it hard to finish. I'm currently trying to read the second one but it too is not grabbing me. DSOH though I can't put down. I'm reading two books at once simply because I have DSOH in dead tree form which I read at home and I have Fool Moon on Kindle loan from the library which I read at work (my job has downtime where I can read so long as I'm not obviously reading a book / magazine. As far as anyone can tell I'm just doing something on my phone).


message 20: by Lee (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lee | 43 comments Sam wrote: "I've been away for awhile from both video and audio, but this thread caught my eye in the daily thread because I'm currently working through Shadowmarch I thought when I picked it up that it was c..."

Shadowmarch is far from his best work (I am a Tad Williams fan BTW so I'm not just having a pop) a lot of it very much fantasy by the numbers. I think I read the 2nd book in this series twice and didn't even notice as it had left such a little impression. Otherland is my favorite but it is ridiculously long which is why you can only recommend it to people who would be up for the commitment (go on slam that four book monster in front of someone and how many of them are not going to look at you like you are slightly demented). War of the the Flowers is his best standalone, I lent my copy to someone and they never gave it back....which could mean two things.

As for the Dirty Streets, I'm not even sure Tad Williams wrote it, it's such a change of style. 22% in seems a little hackneyed, like one of those summer blockbusters where they've taken all the good bits of other things and pasted them together into a pretty series of pictures. It not that its terrible it's just I've seen all this before, same way I felt about The Shadowmarch series.

Bit like using the name Clarence for the trainee angel (an It's a Wonderful Life reference) it's too obvious, a little lazy, why not call him Jonathan and keep asking him where his bearded mate in the baseball cap is, make us work a little for the reference.


message 21: by Rik (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rik | 768 comments Lee wrote: "Otherland is my favorite but it is ridiculously long which is why you can only recommend it to people who would be up for the commitment (go on slam that four book monster in front of someone and how many of them are not going to look at you like you are slightly demented)."

No kidding. Overall I liked Otherland but it was sooooooooo much longer than it needed to be. Its been over ten years since I read it so its getting a bit fuzzy but really it seemed like the middle two books were nothing more than an excuse for Williams to flex his creative muscles by making up new virtual realities for the characters to traipse through.


Bryan | 18 comments I listened to the audiobook, so maybe I have a slanted view of things (the narrator is awesome!) but this is the first noir-style book where I actually like the protagonist. Yes it is very different than Tad's other works (I'm pretty sure 1st person, cursing, and detailed sex scenes are all new for him) but I thought the writing was solid and the plot was fun. I won't hesitate to pick up the sequel.


message 23: by Tim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tim | 380 comments I'm also listening to the audiobook, and think it's brilliant. Yes it's partly due to the quality of the narrator. but just as much I like the writing. But then I do also like noir, detective fiction, urban fantasy etc. And, no, I haven't read any other Tad Williams stuff.


message 24: by Lee (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lee | 43 comments Yeah I kind of get that a good narrator would make this way better. First person really starts to work when you get the character's voice in your head.

Think I'll try reading the rest of it with a James Cagney impression.


message 25: by molosovsky (last edited Nov 17, 2012 02:33PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

molosovsky | 2 comments Williams’ »Memory, Sorrow and Thorn« and his »War of the Flowers« are great examples for the kind of Fantasy-kitsch I really find awful. The »Otherlands«-books are entertaining but also far too long.

But: I think »Tailcatcher’s Song« is quite good as are the short stories I’ve read (for ›Sandman‹- and ›Hellboy‹-anthologies). I'm glad, that Tad changed gear with »Bobby Dollar #1«. Maybe his best novel for my taste. I hope, he will not deviate but stick to the plan and deliver a trilogy of not too thick novels.


message 26: by Emy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Emy (EmyPT) | 98 comments I've really enjoyed this, having not read anything of his before. I'll look forward to the other books in this series, but if I like this one, are his older books for me...? I shall have to try! :)


Jonathon Dez-la-lour (jd2607) | 173 comments On the whole, I'm really enjoying this. I'm finding it immensely fun. That said, I'm not oblivious to some of the flaws - there is quite unnecessary repetition of concepts, for example the flow of time in Heaven/Outside. I'm looking forward to hearing more from Tad Williams in this particular voice.


message 28: by Rik (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rik | 768 comments Emy wrote: "I've really enjoyed this, having not read anything of his before. I'll look forward to the other books in this series, but if I like this one, are his older books for me...? I shall have to try! :)"

This is WAY different than his other books that I've read. DSOH is basically crime noir with a supernatural bent.

The Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn Trilogy is basically epic fantasy in both scope and length. Its been 15 years or so since I read it so I can't really remember much. I know I liked it once I got into it but it was hard to get into at first and I actually lemmed it the first time I tried it.

Otherland is science fiction with cyber punk and fantasy thrown in. Its set in the future where virtual reality exists and most of the series takes place in virtual worlds (if you've read Ready Player One its similar in some way only without the 1980's fetish . . . in fact now that I think about it I wonder if Ready Player One was inspired in part by this series). Its very interesting and has a great plot and story but its VERY long and at times all Williams is doing is padding the books with new virtual worlds to explore merely for the sake of stretching the books. The conclusion of the series and how it ties everything together is great.


message 29: by Tina (new)

Tina (javabird) | 551 comments I lemmed it right away. I'm a fan of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, but this book didn't catch the noir flavor for me. I agree with terpkristen that the writing style is too rambling-- good hard boiled prose is terse and hard-edged. Writers have tried to imitate the style but it's not easily done (a notable exception would be Leigh Brackett, who co-wrote the screenplay for The Big Sleep and also The Empire Strikes Back).


message 30: by Tim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tim | 380 comments Finished now. I thought the ending was a bit flat, but over all I enjoyed it. There's a high probability that I shall look for further volumes in the series when they come out.


message 31: by Richard (last edited Jan 13, 2013 03:15PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Richard (Asmodeon5348) | 1 comments I've read a few Tad Williams books and would have to say DSOH is my favorite of his works so far, I tended to go heavy epic/high fantasy in years past and so have read Memory, sorrow thorn, and made some headway into the shadowmarch books, however I found Tad Williams style to be too heavy on padding out his worlds and slowing down the plot to a crawl, I eventually finished Memory, Sorrow, Thorn and enjoyed them, but gave up on the Shadowmarch series by the second book as it was just too much, by comparison DSOH was astonishingly well paced for a Tad Williams novel and I think even if not done with the skill of someone whose written a great number of urban fantasies it at least caught the spirit of the genre and kept me reading, I also saw someone comment that the book was too much like Dresden, and as far as Urban Fantasy goes he's king so I'm finding it hard to work out whats negative about it being Dresdenlike :P


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