A new collection of short stories from
Shirley Jackson, most of which have previously been printed in other
collections, and I think all of them first appeared in various periodicals during
the 1950’s. Annoyingly, I think the latter form of publishing does more for
them than anthologizing them together like this, as en mass it becomes clear
that the writing, or more specifically the plotting, can be fairly formulaic. In
many ways the biggest weakness of this collection is the collection.
Odd little Lolita-esque novella about a
bored and repressed high school dropout getting into a sadomasochistic
relationship with an elderly man. Divertingly uncomfortable in and of itself,
but to be honest the thing that sticks in my mind the most is how the blurb on
the back gives away plot points that don’t occur until three pages before the
end. I get that the constant cry of “Spoilers!” can be pretty tedious, but
really. Three pages from the end.
Welcome to the Craft Sequence, I guess.
Good, solid secondary (?) world urban fantasy, featuring lawyer-wizards, gods,
and disaffected wage slaves. It’s kind of addictive, so I’m probably going to
work my way through the first five books in fairly short order (the sixth is
due out this autumn). More thoughts on the deeper meanings of this blend of
High Fantasy and Late Capitalism when I’ve got it all under my belt, as I’m not
entirely sure it’s all working quite as it should just yet. Short term,
however, I’ll merely state that Three
Parts Dead is a better book than Two
Serpents Rise: the central character is more compelling, the philosophical editorializing
is less intrusive, and the story is less reliant on a fairly predictable
face-heel turn. As I write this I’m partway through Full Fathom Five, and while some of these flaws are still evident,
I’m pleased to report that for the most part things are definitely moving in
the right direction.
On the one hand, I loved this, on the
other, I found myself in a broadly grudging agreement with Ishihara Shintaro,
which those of you who know me (and him) will understand is not a position I
ever really wanted to find myself in.
Set in and around the Mau Mau Rebellion which preceded
Kenyan independence, an incident I’d previously heard of but know shamefully
little about. Political dimensions aside, what’s surprising about this book is
just how much it sweeps, despite its
relatively short length (barely 240 pages). I was expecting the politics, I
wasn’t expecting the melodrama, nor was I expecting them to mesh quite as well
as they did.
I am, once more, rendered incoherent by Li's
writing. I genuinely can't fathom how anyone is capable of producing anything
simultaneously so precise yet so supple, so pitiless yet so profoundly humane.
A full compendium of M. John Harrison’s
Viriconium stories, originally published separately (as three short novels and
a short story collection) between 1971 and 1985. I’ve previously written about how
superb Harrison is as a stylist, and while that’s clearly evident here, I also
suspect that reading all these stories together like this didn’t really do them