Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Across the Wall" by Garth Nix

Why I read it: I'd just finished something else and had another book listed as "in transit" at the library, so I didn't want to start anything long, because the "in transit" book was a leaden tome at something like 838 pages, so when it was mine I wanted to be able to devote my full attention to it. There are holds after me, so no renewal available. I didn't want to have to put something down half-way through, and I didn't want to read my carry-around book, because a good carry-around book is hard to find and needs to be dragged out as long as possible. Short stories seemed like the perfect choice. I could put the book down at any convenient spot and not have to recapture characters or place.

I finished the book, and the library book is still "in transit"! Well done, TPL! (It's "Darkmans" by Nicola Barker, if the suspense is killing you).

Tastes like chicken: I've read pretty much every published book by Garth Nix except Thursday and Friday, which are around here somewhere. The boy has read them all, even Sabriel and Lirael, which I was afraid he would think of as chick books. But then, he's read all but about 150 pages of the Twilight series, so I guess he's pretty comfortable with any fictional reading material.

Bookmark: A piece of scrap paper with "When Saturday?" scrawled across it. (The boy was right -- it was August 1, not that he'll be reading this... but I guess I'll be going to Chapters on Saturday)

What I liked: The Ancelstierre story. I always liked Ancelstierre better than the Old Kingdom (even if I don't like trying to spell it, thanks Google!). It seems populated, whereas the Old Kingdom seems to have pockets of institutionalization in it, but no villagers. "Nicholas Sayre..." hit all the right notes for someone (me) who read the books three or four years ago. The right characters were mentioned (Lirael, Sabriel, Samael, Touchstone), paperwings, the clayr. It was all so "I remember that" without it being important that I remembered many details of the plot of the previous books. I'm not sure how well it would work for someone who hadn't read the series.

I liked the Nimue story very much, and the Hansel-and-Gretel retelling. And I liked "Endings" better than I expected.

What I hated: The first time I encountered an "Author's note" in a short story collection I was probably 14 and reading "The Early Asimov" and Ursula K. Leguin's "The Wind's Twelve Quarters". I've always found author's notes to be self-indulgent*. Maybe it's part of why people think short stories are only written for other writers. The notes were interesting to me, from a process point-of-view, but I'm not sure most people would care.

The "Choose Your own Adventure" story... I've always hated these. The only way to know you got your money's worth (i.e., read the whole thing) is to read all the numbers you didn't tick off (defacing the adventure). It makes me feel like a product reader rather than a process reader, and that's something I'd rather like to hide from myself.

I didn't like the western too much -- no point to it.

What I can steal: Well, after complaining about author's notes, I always learn a lot from them. Not that having read all those things by Piers Anthony have ever made me a better writer (or given me the nerve to even attempt to get someone to read something I wrote). But the process is interesting. Clearly I am the target audience. I just wonder if they drive other people off sometimes.

*A blogger with approximately two readers maybe should be commenting on self-indulgence, but... shut up.


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