Ramblings from the Desert

The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. ~Benjamin Franklin

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Location: New Mexico

Author of the urban fantasy novel, The Music of Chaos, and the paranormal romance, The Canvas Thief.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Incredible Lightness of Beans

Uh, I dunno. It just struck me for a great title for a cookbook or...a cartoon about farts.

On hot air... I was wrestling with the idea of libraries today, specifically my use of them versus buying books. Thing is, it occurs to me that as a writer, I like the idea that someone would actually buy my book (not that libraries steal them). But I can't bring myself to buy a book unless I've read it already and fallen in love.

First, there's my microscopic budget. Well, sure, we've dropped a lot of moollah on the yard and in the kitchen remodel. But it's a much different thing to spend money on home equity than to purchase a book I may hate.

Yeah. H.A.T.E. I'm supposed to be listing all this year's books that I attempt to read. But I'm always bailing on books. In my current stack, I see at least two that need to go back. They really need to go back because I'm not going to read them. Out of curiosity or perhaps because I like the cover, I pick up a couple of books on each library visit. (And ditch a couple.)

This week it's Christine Feehan's Dark Prince. The author comes highly recommended by her fan girls, but having been burned by so many fannish recs, my ass is scarred. I read the first five pages and then got bored. (Had to re-read a random page in Outlander to clear out the purple prose, prose so livid you could see it from Pluto.) Maybe this stuff was new when the book was published in the 90s, but now, the tired, lonely, seeking a lifemate vampire is too trite for me. Without much preamble, he scents his lifemate and goes into vampy heat: "He must have her; he would have her; he would possess her; he burned for her." Dude. There's medicine for that burning sensation. Egads, I don't know why I'm still hanging on to it, except maybe I think the gods of romancey goodness will liquify my brain and all that overwrought passion will become pallatable.

I got Anne Bishop's Sebastian because it has a really snazzy cover. Hot boy in hot pants. Okay writing, okay characterization, but nothing sparky. I need to just take it back so someone else can admire the pretty boy cover.

Lessons learned: can't always judge a book by its cover and Feehan isn't for you.

That's how I usually progress, with a pile of six or so books, picking one up randomly until something clicks. Even getting past the first fifty pages isn't a guarantee I'll finish the book. I'm just too picky. I want a book that sets all the creative bits of my brain a-humming.

My relationship with a really good book is odd because in some ways, a "keeper" holds my attention less than a mediocre or bad one. A good book is brain food and after a few pages my mind wanders off to my own projects. The difference between a great book and the rest, however, is that I want to get back to the great one.

That kind of book comes along rarely, but honestly, books I can read, beginning to end, without picking up the next and moving on, are rare too. Currently, I'm reading The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig, which is entertaining and will get finished. But...it's not a keeper.

(I'm more conflicted over books of that sort. I enjoyed, but didn't love it. Do I owe the author some sort of karmic payback? Hmmm.)

Right before that, however, I limped through Kelly Link's story collection Magic for Beginners. Link's voice is phenomenal and lively. It's a pity most of the stories don't have much of a plot and are frankly, fucking weird. The title story, "Magic for Beginners" and "The Faery Handbag" are fun and memorable, but the rest...heck some, like the "thing" about a canon, aren't even stories. Great stuff if you equate "incomprehensible" with "original," but not for me.

And I can't imagine paying good money for it in hardback. This makes me a raging hypocrite, I know. For instance, I'm tickled pink with friends say they've ordered the anthology my story is published in. (And panicked: "Egads, they might read it!") So it seems reasonable that I should buy a book as well.

I do. When I fall in love, as I did with Outlander, I march down to the store and get a copy. But I can't afford to buy books I don't love. Lacking all the usual trappings of techno-life, I have no cable TV, no Tivo, no iPod, no cell phone, and I'm on a cheap Internet dial up. Money, she don't grown on trees and if it did, I'd still be screwed since I live in the middle of the desert.

Sniffing around the pile, I see Tobias S. Buckell's Crystal Rain, which looks so much more promising than the pile of romances (honestly, why do I bother?) that surround it.

It's got a great cover. It must be awesome, no?

Have a great weekend.
P.K.





 

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