At a certain level of abstraction my goals are: “Read more” and “Write more.” And assessed equally vaguely, so far so good.
Goal Part One: Read More: Since last check in, I’ve read all of China Miéville’s The City and The City. I have had several of his books sitting on the shelf for years but this is the first I’ve ever read. Miéville has a Ph.D. in international law or something and his writing suggests a conceptual depth far beneath its careful surface. Miéville is currently a darling of the nouveau fantasy crowd, and based on City and the City, deserves it. It’s not your daddy’s fantasy. The book was like hard boiled noir in a city designed by Kafka. Eastern europe… somewhere. A city that is internally segregated. Not like Berlin that had a physical wall dividing different halves. This city (these cities, technically) interlace the same geography and the inhabitants of one city are rigorously trained to “unsee” anything happening in the other city, and vice versa. If you make a slip, it’s called “breach” and a mysterious, terrifying organization called “Breach” apprehends you and… well, that’s part of the story. I kept waiting for more “fantasy” things to happen but the world was pretty believably depicted — as implausible as that set-up sounds.
After that foray into cutting edge specualtive fiction, it’s little wonder I had less success reading the first volume of the “Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser” stories by Fritz Lieber. They’re classic old school “sword and sorcery” but oh, my, my I couldn’t FORCE myself through them. Stereotypes, thin characters, awkward language for both dialogue and even twisted descriptions, names that are rather silly puns. For years, folks have been saying I would love these stories, that elements of my writing is reminiscent of these tales. I don’t know if I should be insulted! (grin) Then again, I started with the first collection of a multi-multi book series of tales. Maybe the ride gets smoother a little ways along. Again, maybe I didn’t cleanse my pallate after Miéville.
I am now just over half-way through Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Graheme-Smith and am enjoying the hell out of it. I wanted to read the book before I saw the movie. Perfect summer-time reading, light, quick, clear sentences that don’t require (or repay) too much thought. Just clever enough without trying to go too far. It’s a fast read supplemented by the flavor of history that helps buoy up any lacking elements.It’s written in a pretty plain and direct style, intercutting bits from Lincoln’s “lost diary” with narrative that the author is composing. Nothing TOO profound but amusing as all get out.
Goal Part Two: Write More is actually supposed to be write 1,000 on the backstory to the haunted high school novel. Ish. I have a serviceable first draft of the whole first chapter. I feel that I’ve learned alot about Brandon, my protagonist by watching him act a bit. I also have completed this week an outline of sorts that draws on the Joseph Campbell “Hero with a Thousand Faces” archetype structure. I usually poo-poo any such grand metanarrative stuff but taken at the high level of abstraction that I used it, I found his schema rather enlightening. I am a bit light on the actual word count for my goal if I’m being a sticker for detail but ROW is definitely keeping my attention focused on one project, rather than a mishmash of too many little things.