Writing and Other Afflictions

"If it was easy, everyone would do it." –Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own"

Monthly Archives: April 2009

New Book!!

Okay, screw “Wolverine” and “Star Trek.” Kazuo Ishiguro has a new book out. The interview is kind of cool–though it’s depressing to hear him say that great writers often write their masterpieces in their thirties. It also dwells on “The Unconsoled,” which apparently is getting more love as time goes on.

But heck–new book!! 9/22/09 should be a holiday. :)

(Also, apparently “Never Let Me Go” is being made into a movie!)

2666 Update

I’m finished with 4 of the 5 parts of 2666. A large part of the book was centered around the Mexican town of Santa Teresa, where a large number of women were killed over the span of four (I think) years. Part 4 is called “The Part About The Crimes” and gives a description of the discovery of each one of the bodies of women found in that timeframe. Woven into the descriptions are some of the stories of a kid who works his way up from drug-lord bodyguard to cop; a detective who falls in love with the director of an insane asylum; an American of German descent who becomes a naturalized Mexican and is accused of one, then all, then none of the murders; and a reporter who becomes interested in the cases and eventually finds the lead that shows us the truth behind them.

That’s the interesting part: at the end of this (very long) section, we are actually given some insight into the cause of the crimes, although none of the characters actually has his story conclude. From what I’ve read about the book, I expected it to be much more open-ended.

It would be a bit of a stretch to say I’m enjoying the book. But I am admiring it, and appreciating it, and definitely enjoying parts of it. The writing is quite good, even in translation, the characters interesting and the world engaging. I’m not sure I needed to read a hundred or so descriptions of murdered women, but then, Bolano doesn’t seem particularly concerned with the conventions of what you should and should not include in a narrative.

And now, on to part 5. Only 250 of 900 pages left to go. I need another plane trip.

What Makes Good Science Fiction?

Still forging through 2666, so even though I have a Bill Bryson book to review, I will hold off for the moment on reviews and give you this Roger Ebert blog post. Since his cancer and therapy have prevented him from speaking, Ebert has been writing a long and thoughtful blog. He’s met a lot of interesting people and has some great stories to tell.

This entry made me think, not about the subject per se, though that’s interesting too, but about the one line he writes, that Arthur C. Clarke was often prescient in his science fiction. And I thought about Clarke and Bradbury, extraordinary storytellers who turned their gifts to science fiction, and I thought that the key to understanding science fiction is to understand, not science, but people. The yearning for communication that Ebert describes is at the heart of many good science fiction stories about merged minds and telepathy; the curiosity about what is Outside is the foundation of a library of excellent SF; the need for companionship and our social nature informs much of the “softer” SF of the sixties.

These are parts of people that remain constant through the years. Good science fiction imagines how they might react to new technologies like cell phones, like the Internet, like flying rocket cars. And because people bend technology to their desires, rather than the other way around, the really good science fiction becomes, eventually, truth.

> You are in a maze of twisty little paragraphs, all alike

Sometimes you just have to point out brilliance.