Started the year off with “required” reading. Two chapters of A Clash of Kings, a short story, and a poem.
I set up a Google Doc for my short fiction reading. It’s embedded on my short story/poetry page. My aim is to read one each per week in addition to anything I might come across. “Geddarien” by Rose Lemberg was my intentional short story read. Lovely story. We authors often talk of using setting as an additional character, but how often does your setting dance?
The prologue to “The Golden Journey to Samarakand” (by James Elroy Flecker), the first selection from T.E. Lawrence’s Minorities book, was very apt for the beginning of a new year. “We who with songs beguile your pilgrimage/And swear that Beauty lives though lilies die,/…/What shall we tell you? Tales, marvellous tales…”
Then I moved on to chipping away at my TBR list.
First up was Black Light by by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan, & Stephen Romano. I won this book during the October read-a-thon. It was a book of my choosing, one of the few horror titles available. It’s been a while since I’ve read a good horror novel. It will be a while longer.
Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan are the screenwriters behind the last bunch of Saw movies. Personally, I like the Saw franchise. I find the movies to be clever and actually quite well written on a macro plot level. Stephen Romano is also a horror writer and screenwriter of some note. The main character of this book is billed as a private eye/exorcist, which intrigued me. Alas, I don’t think screenwriting translates to novel writing. Strike one was using first person present POV. Truly, I wish writers would move on from this gimmick. It’s exceedingly hard to do well. There are other ways to create forward drive in narrative. The second strike was a sort of vagueness of detail. There are a lot of “it”s and “he”s. Bones pop. Which bones? Just the fingers that were being bent backward? An urn is put in a backpack, but is later retrieved from the ground. During a conversation between two men in a bar, I lost track, numerous times, of who was speaking. Thoughts and details were really non-intuitively dispersed. (I haven’t decided whether that’s a fault of the first, present POV. I’ll have to see how The Hunger Games does.) Strike three was the cliches. “The last time I went out there, I got somebody killed. Somebody innocent.” Such quotes were not unique in the 30 pages of Black Light that I read. I have too many books and too little time to put up with shenanigans.
Onward to the next thing on my TRB list, right? Not so much.
The BBC’s Sherlock premiered series two with “A Scandal in Belgravia” which led me to dig up Carole Nelson Douglas’s Good Night, Mr. Holmes, the first of her Irene Adler novels, and re-read “A Scandal in Bohemia.” I had acquired the novel back in 2010 during my Holmes-a-thon. If there is a book that is the near polar opposite in style to Black Light, it’s Good Night, Mr. Holmes. The POV is first person, but it’s a ruminating, describing first person (somewhat alternating between Watson and a young companion of Adler’s). Occasionally, I’ve wished that this book would just get on with it. I’m also a little wary about Douglas bringing Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker into this book, not to mention Charles Lewis Tiffany (as in “diamonds by”) and the Pinkertons*. Mixing real people and fictional characters leaves me uneasy.
*I keep meaning to read more about the Pinkertons. And maybe, incongruously, write about the Pinkertons.