Best of 2001

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at
Fri Jan 18 17:24:44 EST 2002

Ros wrote [more snipped]:
>>  >>  I still think _Sing the Four
>>  >>  Quarters_ wins hands-down, as I expected more from a rec. by DWJ than
>>  >>  from Charles de Lint.
>>  >
>>  >I'm going to have to be a renegade again and say that, contrary to quite
>>  >few people on the list, I really, really liked _Sing the Four Quarters_
>>  >completely forgot to say this in my list!). What did I like about it? The
>>  >characters, the way they are *naturally* bisexual, without any
>>  >or fuss; the world it's set in with its magical system--I found the whole
>>  >thing quite charming. I enjoyed the others in the series, too, though I
>>  >found numbers two and three in the series a bit less enjoyable than the
>>  >third and last. But the second and third contained that delicious idea of
>>  >two souls inhabiting the same body (or something along those lines--my
>>  >memory is a bit unclear about it).
>>  Ok, since you're going against the herd *twice*, I won't bore on
>>  about what I disliked, but just say that I did like the music/magic
>>  system also. :)
>Yes, that was good, I thought. Actually, you won't bore me if you tell me
>what you disliked--I'm interested to know. But if you mean that you don't
>feel like it/don't want to or whatever, that's fine, too.

Not at all, I was just trying not to be a pain by sniping at a book 
you liked.  Well, under the circumstances of your 
lack-of-sheepishness. :)  I can only really remember two specific 
complaints at this stage.  One was the casual promiscuity, which I 
just don't like when paired (oh, no pun intended) with a supposedly 
deep and committed relationship.  I don't find that at all appealing. 
So had it just been a ropm, with these singers wandering around 
having sex with whomever pleased their eyes, it wouldn't have been 
much of a problem, but this way it was.

And secondly, I just found the "oh my, I'm throwing up all the time 
and yet putting on weight!  Whatever could be the matter with me?" 
line very, very tedious.

>[-The Tower at Stony Wood_]

>  > >
>>  >I'll let you know what I thought when I've read it. You might have to
>>  >me, as obviously my memory is not entirely reliable!
>>  Ok!  But how will I remember to remind you?
>Well, you're younger than me, so maybe you've got a better chance of
>remembering! :-)

LOL.  Only a couple of years (and no, I didn't remember that, I 
looked it up in the Questionnaire folder!), and I'm decidedly hoping 
for little or no more memory loss over this next couple of years, or 
I'll be in big trouble!

>>  Glad you understood it, but I think I could have come up with a
>>  catchier category title.  Most Enjoyed Loathing?  That sounds
>>  disturbed, but at least it's shorter.
>I like that. It's not really disturbed so much as ironic, no? Anyway, some
>people already consider *me* disturbed just for taking a book with me

:)  Yeah, but that's the kind of disturbed we all consider a 
compliment!  I like "ironic", though.

>OK, here's the question I want to ask you. Important spoilers coming.
>Did you think that the implication was that Joanne's consciousness only
>continued until she managed to get the message across to Richard--that her
>experience after death followed the same timeline of what was happening to
>her friends in the living world--or do you think the implication is that her
>consciousness goes on after that, too? I was discussing this with a friend,
>and we both felt confused by the fact that time seems to flow at a different
>rate for Joanna after her death and the living world, so that the reader
>can't be sure that her message gets across at the same time as Richard
>'gets' it. Also, we both felt that it was unclear whether Joanna's
>consciousness continues after she gets the message across, but we also both
>felt that Willis was leaving that possibility open--refusing to give a
>definitive answer, but sort of saying 'maybe', and also at the same time
>saying, 'yes, but it's totally different from anything you--or Joanna
>herself--could imagine." Do you (or Melissa, or anyone else who's read the
>book) agree?

Hmmm.  I'm dredging my memory for discussions around this bit, and 
really having to think hard.  (What a pain - having to think about a 
*book*.)  Ok, here's my take atm, qualified by a lot of uncertainty. 
I don't actually think my feeling was that Joanna managed to get any 
message across to Richard.  I think it was purely his knowledge of 
her, combined with a lot of hard thinking, which is what enabled him 
to get it.  (Not that I think you're "wrong" if you feel she did, you 
understand, it's just my interpretation.)

What I tend to want to cling to is the idea that Joanna *does* manage 
to communicate with Maisie.  I especially feel this as Maisie 
herself, who never, never wants to believe something just to make 
herself feel better, believes Joanna saved her.  I'm not sure there's 
any justification in this belief, mind you, and it could certainly be 
something along the lines of what I said above about Richard: that 
Joanna gave Maisie a lot while she was alive, and that Maisie managed 
to use that strength and learning to rescue herself.  I think this 
may be the more "correct" interpretation, based on something CW 
herself said about believing there is no communication between the 
living and the dead.  On the other hand, she's only the author - who 
says we have to take her interpretation as gospel? :)

I guess the thing I find the most confusing is the seeming presence 
of Maisie-as-Helen/guide/companion/whatever.  I thought first time 
round that Helen would be the girl whose heart Maisie got, but she 
acts so much like Maisie that I changed my mind.  Mostly.  But 

I guess I think the line: "just because you want something to be true 
doesn't mean it isn't" is really important, though that's not much of 
an answer.

>The other thing we were confused by is the fact that Willis has that
>wonderful, poignant, heartbreaking description of Joanna's memories
>disappearing one by one, but the next thing you know, she still has those
>memories! What did you make of that?

That one doesn't bother me, because I see the memories disappearing 
as the death of her physical self, her brain.  (And it is incredibly 
moving, isn't it?)  But I felt the last page showed her spirit, soul, 
call it what you will, now freed from her physical body.

Which I guess goes back to part of your first question in a way.  The 
time does seem to move at completely different rates, so Joanna's 
death, which probably takes 5 minutes in real time, is spread out and 
interspersed among events of a few weeks (more?  I'm fuzzy on that 
now) in the living world.  But *after* all the things which she'd 
expected to happen in death have gone, Joanna's consciousness is 
shown continuing.  I found the last page amazing, and personally, 
loved the way standard Christian symbols became an organic part of 
symbols which had become meaningful for Joanna in the book.

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