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Book Meme

I haven't done one of these for a while, so here we go, nine questions about books:

1. One book that changed your life?

Coming Through Slaughter, Michael Ondaatje.

I found Ondaatje's Coming Through Slaughter when I was twenty, and I'd published a few things, but I was (and still am) criminally under read. I always will be, I figure. But at the time I was even moreso, and the things I had seen done in fiction, it was fairly traditional stuff. Then came Ondaatje, and he had this book that was beautiful, passionate, tragic, and filled with just about every kind of prose that I had ever seen. All jammed together into this slim book about a musician that was just achingly beautiful. Made me reassess the whole way I wrote.

2. One book you have read more than once?

I don't re-read so much nowadays. I tend to open a read book, flip to a section I liked, read that, close it, and that's about it for re-reading. There's just so much out there to read that I haven't, you understand, so all the books I have re-read are from my teenage days. Waylander, by the sadly now late David Gemmell, was one of those books. It was all about an assassin seeking redemption, and a bunch of soldiers holding a fort, and dying. I don't know that there's much more to say, really, except that Gemmell knew how to kill a main character.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?

The Book of Surviving Desert Islands, obviously. Where's the amazon link?

Actually, I'd maybe take Don Quixote, because I bought the Edith Grossman translation, recently, because it promised me a modern language. I tried the old translation of Don Quixote twice, but I just suffered with it. On a read through the first ten pages, it seems all good, but you know, I reckon being on a desert island would really force me to read it. Or I'd have a lot of toilet paper.

4. One book that made you laugh?

You know, I'm going to go with Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. The friendship of the demon and the angel is just great, and I do have a real soft spot for the book. I'd probably goes as far as to say it's my favourite thing that either of them have done.

5. One book that made you cry?

Well. I'm sure this'll be embarrassing. But I cried in Dragons of Spring Dawning when Flint Fireforge died. I was, like, thirteen, but that's no excuse.

6. One book you wish had been written?

You know, isn't that what I'm for?

If people go imagining their own books they want to read, I'm going to find it real difficult to sell shit.

7. One book you wish had never been written?

Lord of the Rings.

Look, I know it's three books (four with The Hobbit, so lets include that (and yes, I know it was originally meant to be one book)) but I've got to say it: I hate those fucking books. I hate Hobbits. I hate how you spend page after page meandering through the woods, and then the moment a big fucking demon appears, it's half a page. Maybe one and a half pages. I hate the way women are represented in it. I hate the way there's a whole kind of servant/lord relationship in Sam and Frodo. I hate how it's written. I sometimes imagine waking up in the morning, and somehow, over night, Lord of the Rings had been banished, shot into space on a rocket, and everyone who learnt to speak elvish with them. I think of this as the Utopia, because of course, there's more than one rocket, and I'm ruling the world. Sometimes I wake up from this daydream, and a week has passed.

8. One book you are currently reading?

I am currently reading Maureen McHugh's collection, Mothers and Other Monsters, and it's really quite superb. (Which reminds me, I haven't done a fifty books challenge thing for a while, have I?)

9. One book you have been meaning to read?

I bought a copy of the Mahabharata about nine years ago. The William Buck translation, though truthfully, I've not read any other. Anyhow: I swear to you, one day, I will read it. Or at least try. Once.




Taken from Clare Dudman.

Comments

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markdeniz
Aug. 6th, 2006 02:15 pm (UTC)
We had a couple of similarities there, namely an Ondaatje book changing your life and wishing LOTR had never been written!

Somebody else mentioned crying at the old Dragonlance stuff but that was for Sturm...
angriest
Aug. 6th, 2006 03:36 pm (UTC)
I was more cut up about Sturm dying than I was about Flint, I have to say.
benpeek
Aug. 6th, 2006 11:30 pm (UTC)
sturm only became cool when he died. i disliked him for most of the two books, but in the final quarter of winter night he became pretty cool--and i loved how they had his death resonate.

but flint was one of my favourites.
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benpeek
Aug. 6th, 2006 11:31 pm (UTC)
which ondaatje book was it for you?
markdeniz
Aug. 7th, 2006 07:00 am (UTC)
In the Skin of a Lion, it's a winner!
angriest
Aug. 6th, 2006 03:35 pm (UTC)
Actually Lord of the Rings is one book: the publisher split it into three parts.
benpeek
Aug. 6th, 2006 11:33 pm (UTC)
yeah, i did know that. late night moment, i guess.
nomissnewo
Aug. 6th, 2006 04:03 pm (UTC)
Once, I was sitting at this guy's house at 1 in the morning (I didn't know him very well) drinking beer, and we were talking about fantasy and science fiction novels, and after I proclaimed that I hated Lord of the Rings books, he said, "Ok, you need to finish your beer and leave."
benpeek
Aug. 6th, 2006 11:34 pm (UTC)
people are fucked up bout those books, man.
simplykathryn
Aug. 7th, 2006 01:03 am (UTC)
There is a wonderful series of memoirs by an American named Helene Hanff - she wrote 84 Charing Cross Road, which may or may not help you - and in one of them she talks about when she was an 'outside reader' for one of the big publishing companies. This was back in the 40s, I believe. Basically her job entailed reading through the drafts of books they were considering publishing and giving her opinion. One of the books was Lord of the Rings. She hated fiction - absolutely hated it. So when she started reading about Bilbo Baggins and his eleventy-hundredth birthday or whatever it was, she nearly had a coronary.

When she turned in her bill for reading, it was the standard x number of pages at x dollars per page PLUS an additional $50 for 'mental anguish'. She writes that they paid up without comment.
benpeek
Aug. 7th, 2006 01:59 am (UTC)
you know, i think i might buy those memoirs, just for that.
simplykathryn
Aug. 7th, 2006 01:05 pm (UTC)
If you can find them, they are really well done. I believe the one that story came from is called 'Underfoot in Show Business' and tells all about how she grew up & moved to NYC with plans to become a playwright - and never did. She wrote a lot of the Ellery Queen episodes, and other TV stuff as well once TV came along. And nearly every chapter has a nice little kick at the end :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helene_Hanff

ataxi
Aug. 7th, 2006 01:07 am (UTC)
It's fun imagining an alternate genre of fantasy since 1950 or so, if LotR had never been written. I don't mind betting it would still be full of dreck imitating someone else though.

LotR is a big enough book that its absence from the global consciousness could even go as far as changing things geopolitically. I'm sure the recent films have much changed the way children (and impressionable idiots) think of enemies in war.
angriest
Aug. 7th, 2006 01:33 am (UTC)
I've always loved imagining the hypothetical alternate fantasy where Lord of the Rings crashed and burned while Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast books became an international sensation.
ataxi
Aug. 7th, 2006 01:44 am (UTC)
Although it's brilliant, Gormenghast lacks the narrative thrust and sympathetic protagonist necessary to be a major hit (you could say that about LotR, but it'd be slightly tongue in cheek).

Scary as it sounds, Moorcock is probably a more credible alternative as "the basis of all modern fantasy". Much as I'm fond of his work, I think we'd all be weeping if the Way of Moorcock ruled. Or maybe Robert E. Howard. Argh.
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