dorinda: Cary Grant, in "Bringing Up Baby," clutches his head beneath the letters "OMG WTF". (WTF_CaryGrant)
posted by [personal profile] dorinda at 01:35pm on 22/05/2017 under ,
Hoh man. Serious insomnia last night, my standard sleep hygiene routines fell down around my ears, so I'm at work on about 3 hours sleep. Kind of floating around behind my face like a gurbly balloon.

On the bright side, nice things going on at work, the powers that be actually ponying up money for something we really really needed, yay. But will I be glad to get home and eat a cracker and go to bed before sunset.

My current library audiobook is really fretting me. It's Donna Tartt's The Secret History, and I had heard about it eeeverywhere. Highly spoken of. And a good long book, so I was excited to jump in.

But now I'm just about halfway through, and am considering just stopping and returning the dang thing. It's a constant low-level irritation.

A major reason, unfortunately, is the reading. It's read by Donna Tartt herself, and there are few writers who I think should be audiobook readers. No shame, it's just...audiobook narration is a specific and underestimated skillset, and I vastly prefer to hear a professional do it. Just because you wrote the book doesn't mean you'll be good at reading it aloud.

She has a very low vocal energy, dipping into long croaky vocal fry a lot at the ends of sentences, because she doesn't know how to speak softly but also firmly/powerfully at the same time. A professional knows how to support their voice even when they're speaking right up against a microphone. For the same reasons, her voice scarcely changes timbre, staying in a repetitive, cyclical, muttery range, again because she doesn't have the skill at speaking quietly, on a mike, yet varying in tone and timbre and energy.

And to cap all that off, for some godforsaken reason she gives the character Bunny a distinctive "voice", high and very nasal and singsong, like she's doing some kind of puppet show. AUGH! No one else gets something like that. A professional audiobook reader--a good one, anyway--doesn't "do voices" like that. But here I have to listen to Bunny nasally-squeaking away right and left.

So it just rasps on my ears. It's likely that had I read the book in print, it wouldn't have felt like such a hard, irritating row to hoe--her reading has heaped a lot of difficulty onto the text that has taken extra work for me to disregard.

However--I can't guarantee I would like it, even if it had a good reader. Not just because all the characters are tedious to spend time with in a lit'ry-fiction/anachronistic/wealthy-spoiled-boring way, though that's sure the case. Nor that she seems to have given them banana levels of smoking habits mainly so she has actions to describe to break up big long speeches. Characters are forever lighting another cigarette or pouring another whisky (they all smoke and drink like thirty year olds in 1958, though they're supposed to be 20 year olds in the 1980s...I mean, I think even snotty old-rich Vermont college kids in the 80s drank dumb college booze like everyone else.).

That's kind of petty, I know. Worse I think is what feels to me like a complete overdetermination of Bunny Corcoran )

Granted, I'm only halfway through--maybe the second half of the book addresses this weird approach it seems to have committed to. But because the listening experience is not very pleasant, I'm not sure if I can stick it out.

Anyone who's read it, I'd be more than happy to hear your advice!
dorinda: Cary Grant, in "Bringing Up Baby," clutches his head beneath the letters "OMG WTF". (WTF_CaryGrant)
posted by [personal profile] dorinda at 12:40pm on 31/03/2017 under ,
Has anyone else out there read the first detective novel by "Robert Galbraith" (revealed to be J.K. Rowling), "The Cuckoo's Calling"?

Because I just finished the audiobook yesterday--read by one of my favorite audiobook readers, Robert Glenister (actor, brother of Philip)--and am a bit grumpy about it. (Though Robert Glenister does a terrific job, as always. ♥)

The thing is, it's full of cliches (which granted I might call "tropes" if I liked 'em better) that feel so worn out and negative. Not that an old trope is a bad thing--detective stories are a big old trope in action!--but I don't know, things felt old in a tired/irritating way, not in a classic/familiar way.

The one that bugged me maybe the most (other than the identity of the killer, which will be under cut) was the whole setup and dynamic with Cormoran Strike (detective)'s new assistant. She's a young woman, who ends up basically caretaking and mommying him, cleaning up the office, making him tea, asking what's wrong, following & nannying him when he gets smashed-aggressive-drunk, managing his feelings. It's kind of like Effie from The Maltese Falcon, except with decades upon decades more time and more books having gone by so the stereotype is both exhausted and exhausting. (Also, Effie is a bit more feisty.) A naive young woman being an older man's pretty-but-off-limits-mommy, BLEAAHHHHHHHHHH.

Also, I was baffled by the identity of the killer, GIANT SPOILERS )

In short, wah. I was hoping I'd really like the book, partly because there are more in the series now (of course), and the audiobooks are all read by Robert Glenister. Also, it's being filmed for TV, with Tom Burke (Athos on The Musketeers) as Cormoran Strike, and that might very well be enjoyable.

Dammit, book! Be more good!
dorinda: In "Brideshead Revisited" (1981), Sebastian and Charles, arms around each other, look out to sea. (Brideshead_sea)
posted by [personal profile] dorinda at 12:16pm on 27/08/2016 under , , ,
It's out at last! Yay! Keiko Kirin, who wrote the m/m novel "Safety Net" (about guys who meet in college on the football team, and find friendship as well as love and careers), has a new book out, The Provinces of Touch. The blurb for this one reads:

Jun, a healer with an unpredictable gift, yearns to overcome his troubled past. His solitude is shattered by the arrival of Tlar, a wounded young man from a distant land. Helping this stranger opens up new worlds filled with adventure -- but also brings shocking danger and tragedy. Can Jun finally find true friendship and love? Or will his actions cause a catastrophic invasion and the extinction of his people?

Here's her announcement post for The Provinces of Touch, as well as the Amazon page and the Smashwords page.

I also recommend this extra piece of promo art.

Full disclosure: I got to read an earlier draft. I highly recommend it, and am looking forward to reading my new copy of the final novel! It's gentle, thoughtful, character-driven fantasy, with interesting cultures and worldbuilding, and people I want to get to know all over again.
dorinda: In "Brideshead Revisited" (1981), Sebastian and Charles, arms around each other, look out to sea. (Brideshead_sea)
I was talking recently with [livejournal.com profile] lynndyre about this, but haven't mentioned it otherwise--I finally, FINALLY have been reading the Aubrey-Maturin books!

I haven't finished the series, but I'm well along--in the middle of The Letter of Marque, which is 12 of 20 (or 21 if you count the final unfinished book). It's utterly weird that it took me so long--I've always loved Age of Sail as a setting, I first fell for the Hornblower books at age 10 or 11, I've read many true historical tales of sailors' lives. Heck, I've even read AND enjoyed Moby Dick, more than once! Add on top of that how much I absolutely love the Master & Commander movie, and you'd think I'd have read them all long ago.

But no! It took me soooo long to get my figurative teeth into them. I tried Post Captain (book 2) first, sometime in the later 1990s--the idea was that it started out more like a landlocked comedy-of-manners, which would give me a head start before going to sea and having to face a lot of complicated terminology. And I've read and enjoyed Austen, so, why not this?

But I kept bouncing off Post Captain, over and over. I owned the paperback, and every year or two would open it again and give it another try, but even once I had made it through, I never felt connected to it. And the sea terminology was not the problem! (Hornblower had given me some of the basics, plus just a general absorption of knowledge from everything else age-of-sail-related I'd ever read or seen, plus the O'Brian books do a good job of contextualizing the technical terms even when they're complex).

But then early this year I think, or late last year, I went back and tried the first book in the series, Master and Commander. And click! I connected, I fell right in, and then I kept going, and read/enjoyed Post Captain this time, and then proceeded onward.

I think what in retrospect was a problem for me trying Post Captain first, was that Jack and Stephen are at odds--and such serious odds!--for so much of the book. And because I hadn't thought to stop and try Master & Commander first, I didn't have a foundation for their friendship, as a starting point before seeing the issues with Diana almost bring them to a deadly confrontation.

Once M&C had given me their first meeting, and then how quickly they get over that and bond together, I had an anchor to support me through the tribulations of Post Captain--and then when they are reconciled later in Post Captain, I could bracket off the near-duel as the aberration it was, and sail merrily off to bask in Jack-and-Stephen (and Jack/Stephen) through all the books to come.

I am so totally loving them. And some I've already read twice, first in print and then listening to the audiobook. (Fellow audiobook listeners--it's funny, at first I thought I'd never get comfortable with Patrick Tull, with the heavy thickness of his voice and his idiosyncratic rhythms with such long pauses--but now he is absolutely my jam. And when I've had to listen to Simon Vance, when he's the only one I can get my hands on, I sigh wistfully all the way through and wish for Tull. I thought Vance would be my favorite, as I've heard him narrate the Temeraire books--but no. He does such a comic-walrus Jack, and a completely non-Irish Stephen, and just in general doesn't suit me the way Tull does. Go figure!)

Anyway, I thought I'd mention it, in case anyone else out there ever wants to talk about 'em! I haven't finished Letter of Marque yet, but it's already made me literally mist up and get teary, and I think you know which scene that was. SNIFF!
dorinda: Randolph Scott smiles at Cary Grant. (Randolph_Cary)
I belong to a Nero Wolfe community on Dreamwidth called [community profile] milk_and_orchids. And we were having a discussion of all the books in order, which paused a couple years ago. [personal profile] aris_tgd suggests we start it up again, and I am all for it!

So I thought I'd mention the comm here, in case it piques anyone's interest. You don't have to be any kind of a Wolfe expert or anything, and all kinds of input is welcome, including discussion of the A&E series with Tim Hutton or other adaptations. It's a good idea to be slash friendly, though slashing isn't mandatory.

And give a look-see through past posts! The tone of the group is very much into the characterizational and interpersonal, so I love to see various dialogue and narrative exchanges that get quoted back in people's book reviews and discussions. It also helps remind me, like, which book is it where Archie cherishes the leather billfold Wolfe gave him, which book is it where Archie cherishes the kidskin case Wolfe gave him, which book is it where Archie cherishes the dressing gown Wolfe gave him... :D
dorinda: From a French postcard of 1902: a woman in hat, coat, cravat, and walking stick writes on a pad of paper. (writer)
posted by [personal profile] dorinda at 12:54pm on 10/07/2015 under ,
On the train to work this morning, I finished the audiobook of The Martian (wanted to make sure to get it read before any more advertising for this fall's Major Motion Picture), the book about the guy who gets stranded on Mars. I know [personal profile] mollyamory has read it--anyone else? Want to talk about it?

I better put in a cut here... )

What did you think? Or, if you haven't read the book but you have seen the movie trailers, what did you think of those?
dorinda: From a French postcard of 1902: a woman in hat, coat, cravat, and walking stick writes on a pad of paper. (writer)
posted by [personal profile] dorinda at 12:12pm on 24/09/2014 under , , , ,
I was idly thumbing through my copy of Diane Duane's novel Spock's World last night; it was at the top of a box of books and it reminded me I hadn't reread my Duane Star Trek in a while. She has done some of my absolute favorite fleshing out of the Star Trek universe--the importance and complexities of the rec deck! Harb Tanzer! Naraht! K('s)'t'lk! A diverse crew bustling with non-hominids! I think if I ever write ST fic, it's likely I'd set it in the Duane subvariant.

Something I'd never thought to wonder about the book, though, is where the title came from. Like, I can't help but wonder if she had a different original title. Because the title as-is, and the cover (at least on mine, which is the hardback), are actually kind of misleading. Spock is not a primary character in the story at all. I'd say Kirk is the everyman (he doesn't propel events, but closely observes them, and we get a lot of his POV while he does so), McCoy is the hero (he pushes events along in every respect, on and offscreen), Sarek is the damsel in distress in a way (torn between his duty and his chosen life/family). We get a little bit of Spock POV when he goes to visit [name redacted for spoilers] to follow up on some of McCoy's information, but not elsewhere that I remember. He's in a similar cleft stick as his father and mother, but frankly his decision if Vulcan does secede seems much clearer and less conflicted, since he has already made his home off-world anyway. (As opposed to Sarek, who would be losing much more, in home, status, kinship networks, property, etc... his ties to the planet are much more concrete than his son's.)

Then of course the rest of the story basically has Vulcan, or more precisely Vulcans, as the main character, in the interleaved chapters following the history and evolution of the Vulcan people and culture, up to Surak.

Not that I think it should have had another title, viewed with the clear eye of marketing--Spock is an extremely popular character, I suspect the most popular Star Trek has ever produced. And Vulcan is his world, in a sense (though not his only one). So, call it SPOCK'S WORLD, put a big painting of him and no one else on the cover, and people who might not jump for "a historical-political courtroom drama about secession!!!11!" are likelier to read it--"Hey look, it's Spock." And if they read it, I would bet they would enjoy it.

I mean, I myself am not usually one for a courtroom drama, or in fact politics, but this book nevertheless has me in its pocket. (Granted, I read The Wounded Sky first, which came before and was a bravura performance, but still.)
dorinda: From a French postcard of 1902: a woman in hat, coat, cravat, and walking stick writes on a pad of paper. (writer)
posted by [personal profile] dorinda at 06:56pm on 08/09/2014 under ,
As per this post, I got ahold of the two nonfiction books I thought I might dive into while I do some fact-finding into some possible fiction (and thanks by the way for the recs!).

So I checked out James Lord's My Queer War, and Mary Beard's book about Pompeii (the US title being The Fires of Vesuvius).

Really good so far! I've already learned basic facts about Pompeii I had either never learned or had forgotten (for instance, that there's disagreement about the actual date of the eruption, for one thing--I think I had assumed that Pliny the Younger's eyewitness account had that nailed down, but then she talked about potential mistakes in that text's transmission via successions of scribes over the years. Interesting!)

My Queer War is a solid entry in the WWII-era-gay-memoir niche, and gives fascinating glimpses not only into his mindset at the time, but also at his interactions with other men both admittedly gay and not (including the way he develops this passionate, intimate friendship with a fellow soldier, who he keeps going on road trips with and sleeping in the same bed with, but who he's never quite able to figure out). There's also an extended section about his introduction to gay life and subcultures, which is interesting. The story does get a little startling much later, when he's all besties with Picasso and dropping in on Gertrude Stein...I can't help but wish for a little, you know, confirmation of any of that. (It's awfully stodgy of me, but I prefer a memoir of reality as the author can best remember it, rather than vigorous helpings of confabulation. Confabulation I can get anywhere; actual factual personal experience, not as much.)

Anyway, there you go. I shall cease my whining.

FOR NOW.
dorinda: Hands reach for two identical glasses, which are labeled "half empty" and "half full". (halfemptyhalffull)
posted by [personal profile] dorinda at 12:39pm on 03/09/2014 under ,
Ugh, lately I have been caught in such a cycle of mostly re-reading books I already own, over and over. And there's nothing wrong with a good re-read, but it's getting a little claustrophobic in here, and I hate to dilute the effectiveness of a Very Favorite Book with too much overuse.

And yet...for some reason I don't even know what to try next. What do I want to read? I DO NOT KNOW.

Dorinda chews on books and is fretfully unmoored )
dorinda: Cary Grant, in "Bringing Up Baby," clutches his head beneath the letters "OMG WTF". (WTF_CaryGrant)
Oh good gravy.

I was reading a review of Stephen King's newest book "Mr. Mercedes" on the A.V. Club.

The review is mostly pretty positive, but in a list of the book's problems, it includes this:

"But even when he’s being surprising, he’s also bringing in predictable King-isms, including an Internet-savvy black teenager who for some reason loves to speak in a “yas massa” Southern slave patois"

...WHAAAAAAAAAAT

WHAT WHAT WHAT. WHAT. W.A.T.

Why can't he stop doing that. Just stop. Doing. That. Someone make him stopdoingthat. I would chip in for a team of mercenaries if they could make him stop doing that. If his editors are unable to knock him down and tie him up long enough to make him stop, or his wife, who by King's account is a sharp take-no-shit first reader, I wish they could tell me WHY NOT.

I mean, it's like he has a compulsion. It's like there needs to be an intervention. Sometimes he has a "reason" in his books for that bullshit, like in the Gunslinger books where it still always bugged me. And Richie Tozier is a white kid thoroughly steeped in the racism of his time period (though whether King realized that is unclear). And John Coffey is simple, and Mother Abigail is old, and and and. Nevertheless, I just don't care, by now it is completely ridiculous and he needs to cut it out.

In short: X________X

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