In Which Our Heroine Does Not Play Favorites

2 March 2005

Over on lj, Doug asked, "What's your favorite novel?" And I don't have one, and I don't intend to have one, and frankly I don't even really understand having one. Novels are trying to do too many different things, and I like too many of the things they're trying to do. Obviously some are more favorite than others, but if I can't even pick my favorite novel by a writer who at some point has lived in Minneapolis, I think you can appreciate the magnitude of the problem here. Life is not a burning building. There is no reason you have to save your dog or your cat, your mother or your father, Cetaganda or Tam Lin. There is no need for somebody to be absolutely number one.

I understand, in some dim intellectual sense, that some people experience the world in total orderings, that they really do have a Favorite Meal followed by a Second Favorite Meal and a Third Favorite Meal, that there is the Best Ice Cream and the Second-Best Ice Cream and the Third-Best Ice Cream. When Ed and Jen got married, Scott went around referring to himself as the "second-best man," and that was amusing, but if I thought he ran his entire life that way in seriousness, I'd be very alarmed. (Incidentally, does nobody else feel sorry for the bride at weddings? There's someone who has been picked out as the best man, the very best man there, and she's marrying some other guy? That seems like poor planning on her part, maybe.)

Ah well. Last night I had the "I must prepare every food item in the house" urge. I thought it would go away once I'd cooked dinner, but instead it seems to have intensified and spread. I now have the urge to fiddle with everything in the house in some useful manner, or worse, some pseudo-useful manner. Putting my index cards in my new index card box, for example, was useful. Arranging them by which book they're for: useful. Arranging them chronologically within sections for books I have no intentions of writing this year: not useful. Not even remotely useful. I'd chalk it up to spring, but it was 5 degrees Fahrenheit this morning, so it's not really spring at all.

I finished Charles de Lint's Mulengro this morning and am now reading Peter O'Donnell's The Xanadu Talisman, another of his Modesty Blaise books. I had the misfortune to come across a series listing a few days ago. I had been assiduously avoiding finding out how many I had left, with the sense that no series is infinite and all that. But it's even fewer than I'd thought. Sigh. They're reliably good fun and quick reads for me. I'd been short on things that were both fun and fast. Whatever else can be said for the magazines we currently subscribe to, I'm afraid none of them is fun. And even with my reading speed, I sometimes need to know that I'm not making a commitment to spend very much time with a book. Sometimes I need to know that if it's the wrong choice or even a suboptimal choice, I won't be investing very much energy in it, and it won't be dragging energy out of me. Not all the time. Just sometimes. I have some absolute bricks sitting on my pile, and sometimes my own ever-more-brick-like fantasy novel is enough brick for the day.

And not in the sense that Eustace called Jill a brick, either, or the sense in which Edmund called Trumpkin one. I remember being baffled by that slang when I was small. I knew what it meant, but it still alarmed me. "I'm a brick? You, my friend, you are a 2x4!" "Why, thank you!" And I always wondered if they cried like fish tanks, because that's what I knew that went blub.

Which reminds me of a story, but it's definitely an in-person story, and not even in person with me, but with Kari's husband Jake. So on that note -- utterly useless to most of you, who have never encountered Jake and likely will not while you're still thinking of the fish tanks going blub -- I'm going to head off to work on the book some more. Okay? Okay.

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