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As a preliminary note, it's really difficult to write book reviews with a cat on your chest stuffing her head under your chin, however cute she may be.

23. American Gods by Neil Gaiman (reread).
Tried this again to see if I could figure out why it's just never riveted me or stuck in my head the way most of Gaiman's writing does. I think the answer is just in the nature of the central character. During the course of the book he goes from a passive, personality-impaired drifter to someone with some semblance of actual Will, but the crucial transition happens so late in the story that by then I've lost interest in him. The surroundings are interesting enough to keep me reading, but the characters are what make a story memorable, and here they're just a bit too shallow for my taste. Seriously, the character with the most, well, character in this book is the hero's dead wife! The central idea of the story (gods, or slightly warped copies thereof, come to this continent with their worshippers and slowly fade from lack of devotion and infighting) is really nifty. But with all the time spent setting up the environment, the human story starts too late. When the occasional vignette detailing how this or that god came to this country is more compelling than the main storyline....

24. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (reread).
One of my top five books of all time (just don't make me put it up against Lord of the Rings!). Half fiction, half philosophy, in Steinbeck's vividly melancholic style - I think this book may have been part of what taught me to be a Thelemite long before I'd ever heard the word. Timshel!

25. The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant.
In many ways I want to compare this to Diamant's The Red Tent - historical fiction, from a woman's point of view in a patriarchal society, in a time of cultural transition, but in the Italian Renaissance rather than Old-Testament Canaan. The heroine is an aspiring artist, which adds a dose of personal interest for me, obviously. It's well-written and the plot is far from predictable, but it just isn't sticking with me like The Red Tent did. I'm not sure why.

26. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (reread).
A long-lost childhood favorite with modern-day resonance; a quest for Rhyme and Reason in a world gone cockeyed with an imprisoned Which, a silenced Soundkeeper, and the Island of Conclusions (which you can only get to by jumping). A very quick read, but a timeless one. If you somehow missed it growing up, go now before the demons from the Mountains of Ignorance find you!

Currently reading: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. On deck: Widdershins by Charles de Lint, and Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore (among the many others I acquired at Powell's last Friday). Awaiting anxiously: Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey (June 12, says Amazon, though apparently at least one independent bookstore in Austin has it already - curses!).



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 7th, 2006 03:41 am (UTC)
I just reread American Gods not too long ago - Marchish Aprilish, I think. I did really appreciate it the first time I read it, but rereading it made me realize how wandery it was - there WAS something about it that kept me reading, like you said, but the whole of it never stuck in my brain, I couldn't remember it later.

And holy cow, I remember reading the Phantom Tollbooth and now I am tempted to find a copy, because I seem to recall REALLY liking it...
Jun. 7th, 2006 06:26 am (UTC)
I liked the details of American Gods more than the plot, also. I can't remember the plot itself for the life of me, but I do remember the flashback involving the nameless mammoth-skull god, and feeling sorta sorry for it.

I also feel like I saw through his character setups as he was making them, which made the whole unfolding of Wednesday's identity sorta fall flat. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I knew less about mythology. But to his credit, the Mr. Ibis funeral company bit was cute. :)
Jun. 7th, 2006 08:20 am (UTC)
I love Neil Gaiman's work but i think he should have stuck to writtig comics. Everything I have read from him (and I've read pretty much all of it) would make a fantastic comic and an ok novel or short story.
I wouldn't recommend his most recent novel 'Anansi Boys', it just didn't grip me at all. 'Coraline' his last children's book was far better.
Jun. 7th, 2006 02:58 pm (UTC)
I *love* phantom tollbooth... I remember reading it when I was just a tender sprout and it warped my young mind then... so of course... I had to share (force) it on my own girls... and they seem to be turning out all-right...

but American Gods... well I guess I gave up about half way through... maybe I will have to pick that one up again.
Jun. 7th, 2006 10:29 pm (UTC)
I had an almost opposite reaction to American Gods -- I really loved the progression of the central character, and I also loved the characterization of America as a player herself, in a way -- I kept thinking "I can't believe a non-American (yes, I know he's spent a lot of time here) wrote this" and "Perhaps only a non-American *could* write this".

I didn't feel the development was sudden at the end -- it felt natural to me.
Jun. 14th, 2006 02:07 pm (UTC)
Speaking of cats... do you want yours back?
Jun. 20th, 2006 04:52 pm (UTC)
Ack, sorry I didn't respond until now.

It was my understanding when you took the cats in the first place that they wre yours, period, from then on... my apologies if this was a misunderstanding.

I'm still not in a position to have more than one cat where I am. Are you no longer able to take care of them?
Jun. 22nd, 2006 04:37 pm (UTC)
That's okay. We are no longer in a position where we can have more than 1 cat, but we'll find something for them.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


firesea: self-portrait
Heather Keith Freeman
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