Reading for March, 2005

The Glass Hammer by K.W. Jeter. Reread.
Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb. The first book in the third trilogy by Hobb (who has also written several books under another name). Hobb is a solid fantasy writer; throughout the FitzChivalry Farseer books she uses a single voice for all the storytelling. There are too many writers out there who shift the narrative voice as it suits them, the worst offenders being those writers who like to “peek” into the mind of the villain / antagonist because they don’t know how else to move the story forward. Jasper Fforde’s /The Eyre Affair/ is a good example of this slovenly writing style.
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Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. Number 82 on the Modern Library list. First published in 1972, the story is told by a retired history professor who is writing an historical biography of his [paternal] grandmother. Since most of this story occurs in the late half of the 1800’s, the novel is a modern update on a theme. Stegner draws his characters with a rather unforgiving brush, trying to avoid the potential Romantic stylizations that hide behind every corner. When the novel finally does take a Romantic turn, Stegner himself bails out, resorting to a cliche dream sequence and a non-existent conclusion. I should point out that this book won the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Two years later Thomas Pynchon was nominated for the same prize, but the decision was overturned. I can only conclude that the Pulitzer board was interested in public appeal over quality and substance.
In the realm of nonfiction, I’ve been reading The Data Warehouse ETL Toolkit by Ralph Kimball.

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