It turns out The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler has no plot. Oh, there are a handful of scenes in which characters interact, and things happen off-stage, but this is all “get to know the character” stuff, which culminates in… Fowler’s collection quotes of other authors talking about Jane Austen.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. The writing is at times poetic, but the narrative structure is haphazard, evasively moving towards “the big secret” which lends little momentum to the story. But don’t mind my opinion, this book has already made it only college reading lists where it will hover for a while before getting pushed aside for other things…
I am disabling comments on my blog for a few days, as I won’t have time to maintain things (i.e. delete the occasional spam storm) for a few days. If you’d like to send me a message, there’s an email address on the left side of the index page.
31 July Update: comments are back on.
Something happened a week or two ago… I think I posted a comment over at C. Max Magee’s The Millions, and then he posted a link to my 20th Century Novel Handicapper, and that got picked up by Bookslut. Anyway, tens and hundreds of people have since visited my site. Hello!
It is only fair that I link back to the folks who have enjoyed my handicapping tool:
- Backwards City: The semi-official blog of Backwards City Review. Avoid this site if you dislike headlines in smallcaps.
- Confessions of a Bibliovore by Maureen. Maureen doesn’t seem too keen on the great works of the 20th century. Maureen also seems surprised that some movies were actually books before they were movies. But then, Maureen also appears to be into fanfiction. How cute!
- Hey Trey: Another Writer’s Journal. Trey had trouble with Gravity’s Rainbow.
- Horizon: A collaborative general-interest blog of history, literature, culture, and stuff. They were also interested in my choice to include Gravity’s Rainbow in the dataset. FYI, I’ve read it twice.
- sprite writes: broodings from the burrow. Not sure what is going on there.
- the wanker’s swansong: THE DAILY (HEH) RAMBLINGS OF A DIGITAL MISANTHROPE. A self-proclaimed misanthrope? Sounds fishy.
Indulge me as I muse about the value of criticism and its conflict with popular culture.
In the news: Hobbiest programmers — known as “modders” — have discovered hidden sex scenes in the popular game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and have published code which will allow players to access the mature content. Harry Potter fans are anxiously awaiting the Friday release of the sixth book in the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is a computer game; Harry Potter is a popular book series. They both have their champions, and their critics.
The GTA champions are those who defend the game’s hyper violence and mature themes. When you buy GTA, they claim, you know what kind of game you are buying. The critics claim that the game in unsuitable for children and that, in the extreme, should have never been made in the first place.
It appears that Rockstar Games had designed some strong sexual content for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and opted to “disable” the code for the released version. And now the mod community has made that code accessible to anybody who is curious.
Now watch the rabid gamers rally to defend Rockstar and the ESRB from public scrutiny. Will this be the end of industry self-regulation? Or will the end-of-the-week, post-London-bombing timing of the story provide enough cover to escape public notice?
Small Ceremonies by Carol Shields
The Box Garden by Carol Shields
These are the first two novels written by Shields. There are some related characters in the two books, but each story stands by itself. I found Small Ceremonies to be more appealing, mostly because, like the novel I wrote for last year’s NaNoWriMo, it deals with a main character who has just written a failed novel and is trying to figure out what to do next. I suppose there are some writers who are self-conscious about writing, and some not at all.