In Which Our Heroine Relies on Will Shetterly

31 March 2004

So. Finished Fool's Fate. Deep sigh. I've been recommending Robin Hobb to people who want to like high fantasy but don't like a lot of what's being done in the field. But there's always the problem that the main character behaves like an idiot. Often. Nigh-constantly. I thought he might grow out of it, but while he grew out of some of his worst self-pity, he didn't grow out of just being dumb. Here's a tip: if someone is a known baddie, and they promise to do something in exchange for something from you, it makes no sense to assume that they will keep their promise once you've done their bidding. If there's no particular reason for someone to keep their word -- and they've already shown that they're evil, evil, evil -- you are stupid, stupid, stupid if you assume they'll do as they've said. And if it doesn't bite you in the butt, the author probably didn't do his/her job.

Then, on one of the issues for which the main character is not a total moron, one of the other major characters constantly attacks him as though he had no reason for doing what he did. And instead of saying, no, dorkbutt, here's why I did what I did, he just lets other characters think he was an idiot. Okay then.

And the ending. Oh dear. Very sad. I mean, technically, very happy, but...very wrapped-up, very tidy. Very much "I'm not writing about this character again!" And I think she's done enough with him and can move on. That's good. But...if you have tormented a character from birth into middle age, with a series of plot devices that do not fall into the "hearth and home angst" category, there's a level of "typical" or "normal" happy ending that I just won't buy very easily. There has to be an element of the unusual to a happy ending from a character who has unusual skills/interests and has had an unusual life for me to be satisfied with it.

Ah well. I'm on to Will Shetterly's Dogland, working my way down the library pile. Library library library. I'm way behind on periodicals, too, so I read through Michelle's poetry magazine this morning. (Michelle gave me the subscription as a present, hence "Michelle's"; she doesn't edit it, write for it, or lend me copies that belong to her.) It amazes me how varied some editors' taste in poetry can obviously be, because they buy poems that make me go "oooh!" and poems that make me go "ewww!" And not much in between.

Then again, there isn't much in between -- I tend to feel very strongly about poetry. I find some metaphors illuminating, but many of them come off as either clichés or as attempts to be deep. "It's -- like -- well, I don't know, maybe it's like warm feta? Yeah?" "How, exactly, is the planet Pluto like warm feta?" "I -- I dunno, it's a simile, see...." I'm not saying that no one could successfully compare Pluto to warm cheese; I am, after all, the source of the extended Jesus/Jen's car simile. But you have to make me see it, or at least help me see it. You can't just show up and say, "You know, a horse is like a keychain," and then leave again. "A bassoon is like the Parthenon!" Fine. How? Sure, your reader can do some of the work, but it shouldn't be a riddle unless it's an interesting riddle. "How is a bubble-duck like a writing desk?" No, no, no.

Also, I have very low tolerance for line-breaks that don't seem to serve a purpose except to make lame prose into a lame poem:
I had nothing to
Say, so I
Broke things up
So you would
Think I was deep. I hope
You sleep with me.
Or give me money. Either way.

Will Shetterly will not fail me. I feel sure of it.

So, more of the same: more reading, more working, more trying to keep the house in some semblance of order, more working, more queries, more working, more bill-paying, more working. Boring girl here, from the outside. In here, it's stressful but interesting.

Back to Novel Gazing.

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