In my first post about this year’s Once Upon a Time reading, I mentioned all the books that I have, since, finished reading, though at the time I was just beginning:
Margaret Atwood’s The Robber Bride (1993), Bill Willingham’s 1001 Nights of Snowfall (2006), Charles de Lint’s The Dreaming Place (1990), Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife (1999).
My post on re-reading The Robber Bride is going to take some time (in short, though it was one of my “just-fine” Atwoods, it is now one of my favourites).
I will be waiting to chat about de Lint’s book until I read the next in the Newford series (it was rather short, but enjoyable enough).
The Willingham was not one of my favourites, but it satisfied the urge for illustrated stories.
And the Duffy poems are terrific from start-to-finish. Even if you do not often read poetry, but like the idea of someone taking the perspective of the “Mrs” for mythic and historical figures (from Penelope to Mrs. Darwin, from Mrs. Midas to Circe), you would find these of great interest (and, frequently, laugh-out-loud funny).
And now? Five other reads underway. Well, four reads and one re-read. With two recent additions to the stack of soon’s.
(I also finished Martin Millar’s The Good Fairies of New York (1992), which I found a lot of fun, though I realize I did it a disservice by reading it in so many short reading sessions. I had wanted to prolong the entertaining aspects of the story — such a plethora of ‘good’ fairies with ‘bad’ habits is hilarious — but there are so many characters that I realize, now, that I’d have done better to have simply sat still and giggled through it over the course of a day or two, while it was all fresh-in-mind.)
My marker is nearing the end of Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria (2006), but I am moving very slowly, reading a chapter every other day or so. (This is the kind of reading for which one is grateful to have a book like Martin Millar’s as light-hearted relief alongside.)
The novel opens with a tidal river snake, a creature larger than storm clouds, “laden with creative enormity”. What is it creating? Tunnels, valleys, many rivers and, finally, one last river.
“This is where the giant serpent continues to live deep down under the ground in a vast network of limestone aquifers. They say its being is porous; it permeates everything. It is all around in the atmosphere and is attached to the lives of the river people like skin.”
The novel has claimed several literary awards (including the 20o7 Miles Franklin Award) and it is impressive and curiously engaging. Only now, in the fourth chapter from the end, am I beginning to feel as though I understand some of the places I have travelled to in its pages but, even so, I have never considered setting it aside.
Nearing the halfway mark in Donn Kushner’s A Book Dragon (1987), I am already tempted to say that it will be a favourite.
Nonesuch is a charming dragon, even before he discovers the “treasure” of print. His family history offers many instances of the kind of story-within-a-story commentary that usually makes me want to skim, except that I actually enjoyed all the supplementary stories. (And I found the scene of his exploring his grandmother’s caves surprisingly touching.)
This book has been lingering on my shelves for more than twenty years unread, so I’m curious to find it so enjoyable after having had it waiting here for so long. (A strong argument for paying more attention to the books on my own shelves. *nods)
Having kept A Book Dragon company for almost as many years, is Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin (1991). Whether I added it to my TBR as a result of perusing the Mythopoeic recommendations on Terri Windling’s site, or whether it was a result of more general enthusiastic chatter, I’m no longer certain, but I understand why it has been so popular with readers. (I do remember Kat re-reading it a couple of years ago and that gave it a good nudge up my list: Kat, you there?)
Not only is it a campus novel (which, yes, I also love), but Janet is an English student (and her father an English professor). And there is a ghost, which is an unexpected bonus. (I don’t remember the original tale very clearly, but I wouldn’t have expected the kind of ghost I’ve glimpsed here.)
It’s thoroughly enjoyable, and even though Janet and I don’t share many favourites (her taste is much more classic-minded than mine, although if I’d had an English professor as a father, I might have been inclined that way as well), the bookishness is wholly seductive.
(In some ways, it reminds me of Jo Walton’s Among Others, which I read and loved earlier this year, but I feel as though Walton’s style is more polished, though I have only read a little more than a quarter of Pamela Dean’s work, so perhaps that’s not representative enough to make such a comparison.)
The characters in the first story in Kelly Link’s Magic for Beginners might have made interesting companions for Janet, although it would have required some magic, indeed, for they do not inhabit the same literary geography.
I’ve read “The Faery Handbag” before, but not often enough for Baldeziwurlekistan to roll off my tongue (that took some practice). It was the story that prompted my buying this collection, but I’m anxious to move beyond it, to see what else awaits in this collection.
(My problem is that I try to read only a single short story daily, and I recently finished Théodora Armstrong’s Clear Skies, No Wind, 100% Visibility, which is definitely worth adding to your TBR list, and am currently reading two other collections, byAlice Munro and Sherman Alexie, so I might still be reading the Kelly Link stories in June.)
And, finally, Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting Volume I (2006), which is actually a re-read, because I’ve recently added Volume II to my stack. This collection is one of my favourites, and I’ve been itching to read the next volume for years. I have read a lot of graphic novels in the interim, and I’m curious to see if my opinion changes in terms of the episodic nature of the storytelling (I didn’t question it before, but have several series since and wonder if I won’t long for more interconnections) but, in the meantime, I’m happy to be back on Linda Medley’s pages.
When I’ve finished re-reading, I’ll be delving into the next volume of Castle Waiting. And sometime soon, having miraculously jumped from #70 to the top of the hold list for G.R.R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords (2000), (even though the library only has 27 copies — see, this is why I just don’t get this idea of suspending your holds, because I was planning to suspend it when I moved into the 40-something range), I’ll be starting that as well.
In other planned reading, I’ll also be re-reading the Grimm story that accompanies the Atwood novel, and I plan to include a LeGuin novel before the Solstice. If I manage that, I’ll be thrilled. My reading list of possibilities was over-long, but this sampling has been just perfect for my current reading mood.
Oh, and all that talk of Neil Gaiman’s novel Neverwhere? I’m itching to read that, now, too. Or is that, more properly, an RIP read, would you say?
Have you read any of these? Or are you planning to? Are you enjoying your OUaT reading?