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Wildest Dreams Wednesday

What I've Finished Reading

Like Clifford Chatterly's blameless motor-chair, Lady Chatterly's Lover did the best it could. My patience got tested by all the back-to-the-land business and the general swallowing-up of the last eighty pages in The Mellors Method of Manhood: A Free Course in Comprehensive Mellorology With Oliver Mellors, but I was glad I read it just the same. Mellors, who has to bear the symbolic burden of being a Real Man in a world of emasculated abstractions with skinny legs, seriously suffers from it as a character: he enters the book as living flesh only to dissolve by the end into a cloud of words. Connie is sympathetically drawn and less garrulous and all-knowing, and fares a little better overall. Mellors' wife Bertha never gets to be a character in the first place. In the end, though, I think my feelings were a little less mixed than osprey_archer's. I liked this book, for its cranky, awkward earnestness and for its beautifully observed portraits of brooding hens and spring plants (even if Lawrence's irritating habit of tacking the word "female" all over every descriptive noun spoils it a little) and for Connie, who is a good character until Mellors starts in talking and forgets she's still there. It's because Connie is so believably discontented that I don't buy the alleged happy ending for a minute. Is it even supposed to be a happy ending? I can't tell. But that's all right, I think. Any story can have a happy ending if you cut it off in time, and sometimes even if you skip ahead five years and reduce Connie's messy second divorce to a two-sentence summary and a wry, sad smile.

The Dispossessed was slower going than The Left Hand of Darkness - it's a little more nakedly a novel of ideas, with many, many long conversations about social organization among the post-revolutionary anarchist settlers of Anarres and between Anarresti physicist Shevek and his hosts on the archist, "propertarian" planet Urras - but I liked it once I got used to it. The sections set on Urras are full of fish-out-of water scenes: Shevek goes shopping, Shevek meets an otter, Shevek gets drunk for the first time, Shevek asks where all the women scientists are and gets a lot of confusing Space Sixties double-entendres in reply. Eventually a plot breaks out, but mostly it's a worldbuilding story (and a story about worldbuilding).

Oh! and I finished listening to Burnt Offerings by Laurell K. Hamilton. I couldn't really tell you what happened, except that Anita is Very Important to inter-were politics and there was a lot of non- and dubiously-consensual sex and maybe someone getting set on fire? But the narrator did a great job with Anita's brattiness and the douchey and/or goofily accented voices of her coworkers/harem, and it passed the time effectively while I was moving things around. I tried another audiobook, The Hand of Oberon by Roger Zelanzy, with much less success; I couldn't follow it at all and gave up within about ten minutes.

What I'm Reading Now

I've just begun Scenes from Provincial Life and so far, it's just as low-key as its title suggests, except that the young narrator and his friends keep casually wondering if they should leave England for America ahead of the Nazis. In the meantime, the narrator has a job at a school where he gets criticized for not expressing more disapproval of the boys' bad language. He's seeing a woman named Myrtle, and wondering if there's a good way to bring her along on the escape-to-America plan without having to marry her. It's February 1939 and who knows what the world will look like in a year? Right now, it's a lot of tea shops and dismal news on the radio, and buttering different kinds of bread and trying to think clearly about a future to big and close to see, plus some beautifully petty and confusing awkwardness over whether Tom's boyfriend and the narrator's girlfriend are allowed to meet each other at their shared weekend sex cottage.

What I Plan to Read Next

Guards! Guards! is here at last! And I'll probably finish To Say Nothing of the Dog this week, also. The next book club selection is the Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov, which I've read before and probably won't start until I have to go out of town -- it's one of those bag-of-chips books that are good for reading on airplanes.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
lost_spook
May. 25th, 2016 09:24 pm (UTC)
Mellors, who has to bear the symbolic burden of being a Real Man in a world of emasculated abstractions with skinny legs

Oh my goodness, he's Jarvik. 0_o

(Er. One day, if you watch Blake's 7 ever, I'll explain that. BUt, lol, oh my, he's is. Or Jarvik is Space!Mellors. He is a MANLY MAN who thinks that men are better than machines. And women.)
evelyn_b
May. 26th, 2016 01:07 am (UTC)
I will definitely watch Blakes 7 at some point; I keep hearing things about it! And I'll need something to watch when I run out of Doctor Who circa 2066.

it's hard to be a REAL MAN in an age of machines and women. :(


p.s. GUESS WHO SHOWED UP in Doctor Who?

. . .

. . .

. . . it was the time-meddling monk!! :D I feel justified now in my hope that he becomes a recurring character like the Master.

Edited at 2016-05-26 01:08 am (UTC)
lost_spook
May. 26th, 2016 08:55 am (UTC)
I do remember reccing it to you before, but it just struck me when I was reading that. For a 70s thing, B7 is pretty excellent for the women (we can haz multiple main female characters at the same time! They do cool stuff! The villain is female! Guest characters are female! They're not automatically love interests!) but later on in the series they had three scripts written by a guy called Ben Steed who was clearly highly misogynistic. B7 fans cling together in our suffering over them. I mean, we could just not watch them, but every time, you think, hey, it can't have been THAT bad. But they are. Jarvik, however, is so much a REAL MANLY MAN, he's almost a parody and there is fun to be had with that. Ish. Also the pet rock and the giant fake spider/ant called Brian on location, because B7.


Ahaha, I remember you saying something about him and I had to sit on my hands not to type spoilers. He is great, isn't he? Renegade Time Lords tend to be fun. :-)
therck
May. 25th, 2016 09:32 pm (UTC)
With regard to The Hand of Oberon, had you read the previous books in the series? I can't remember if it's the third or the fourth out of the five, but it absolutely would not make sense without the others because it's more or less a continuous narrative. The series also tends to be polarizing with people loving it or hating it and not very many people feeling tepid.
evelyn_b
May. 26th, 2016 01:02 am (UTC)
Not at all! I just picked this one up from a bin at the used bookstore. So I'm sure that was a factor, along with my baseline difficulty paying attention to audiobooks. I wasn't able to follow it closely enough to be able to tell whether I liked it or not. What's the first book, in case I decide to give it a fair shot later?
therck
May. 26th, 2016 01:27 am (UTC)
Nine Princes in Amber is the first book. The series carries an understandable warning for period sexism as the last book in the first set came out (serialized. I had to figure out how to check magazines out from the library in order to read it) in about 1977.

The main character starts out a relatively reasonable person becomes an asshole and then gradually becomes a better person. The story is his first person narrative, so if you loathe him, you'll loathe the books. There's some argument that for part of the first book and all of the second book, the POV character, Corwin, is the villain.

The series reads a lot like Zelazny was simply making things up as he went along. Things do ultimately fit together, but I've never been convinced that he knew, when he started, where he was going to end up.

It's even more evident in the second set of books because he will often throw in things that sound neat and then kind of forget about/ignore them. He admitted though, when I saw him at a convention, that he wrote the second set of books because he could sell them rather than because he really was enthusiastic about continuing the series.

The series has-- or had-- a fairly obsessive fan base, but they skew to table top rpgs (and rpg conventions) as opposed to fanfic. The game system encourages players to write game logs and character journals and character backstory, so most of the writing out there is about OCs.

Oh, and after Zelazny died, his estranged wife inherited his literary property and licensed prequels. (Zelazny is one of the big examples people use for why folks should make wills specifying who gets their literary property.) I have not read them, but I've never heard anything good about them, and I don't think it's entirely from people who think that she shouldn't have gotten the rights.
a_phoenixdragon
May. 25th, 2016 09:42 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a perfect disaster. Glad I never finished the damned thing, lol!!

*HUGS*
evelyn_b
May. 26th, 2016 12:58 am (UTC)
Aww, it was all right.

(Are we talking about Lady Chatterly's Lover or Burnt Offerings? Either way!) :)
a_phoenixdragon
May. 26th, 2016 11:42 am (UTC)
Lady Chatterly's Lover, lol!!

I wouldn't get within ten feet of The Vampire Diaries..and doubly glad of THAT, too. :D

Edited at 2016-05-26 11:43 am (UTC)
osprey_archer
May. 26th, 2016 12:57 am (UTC)
I like to imagine that Connie finds happiness eventually. I'm envisioning her as an old woman, possibly with a little motorized wheelchair of her own at this point, on her third or fourth husband (I think probably third; she's much less quick to jump into yet another marriage after Mellors), putting around their garden in her wheelchair with a grandchild on her lap.

Even if Mellors didn't ultimately give her happiness, he did get her away from Sir Clifford and the hellscape of Wragby, so she remembers him fondly. Plus of course he's the father of her first child, who I kind of hope was a girl because a boy would have ended up fighting in World War II.
evelyn_b
May. 26th, 2016 02:15 am (UTC)
Oh, definitely, as long as she gets clear of Mellors after a while, there's no reason not to remember him fondly (yet). Or if he learns the fine art of caring about other people's opinions occasionally! but the former is more likely.

I like to imagine that Connie finds happiness eventually. I'm envisioning her as an old woman, possibly with a little motorized wheelchair of her own at this point, on her third or fourth husband (I think probably third; she's much less quick to jump into yet another marriage after Mellors), putting around their garden in her wheelchair with a grandchild on her lap.

<3

I can accept Happiness for Connie as the true ending of LCL, whatever form it eventually takes. Too bad about that war in the way, though :(
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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