Favourites/ Least favourites (was My introduction)

Ika blake at gaudaprime.co.uk
Thu Dec 16 06:47:04 EST 2004


Answering in an order which makes my responses make sense, rather than in
the order of the questions/statements...

Me/Jon:

>  I can't
>> imagine how *Eight
>> Days of Luke* could be anyone's least favourite DWJ,
>> or *Deep Secret*
>> anyone's favourite, for example: can anyone who
>> listed those two elaborate
>> on *why*? I'd be deeply fascinated.)
>
> "Least favorite" is not the same as "don't like". I've
> never read a DWJ I didn't like a lot. But the question
> was there and under protest I answered it.

I should swiftly point out that I haven't read a DWJ I didn't like, either
- and also apologize for not putting my own thoughts into words when
asking other people to do so (and thanks, I've been completely enchanted
by the Deep Secret responses...). Anyway, the reason I can't see why 8DL
would be anyone's least favourite (and I would ask you when reading to put
the emphasis on the *I* - as in *I* can't see, it's a perceptual
shortcoming on my part - not the "anyone's" as in "why would anyone do
that, eww", which wasn't what I meant at all) is that it seems to me to be
a very quintessential DWJ book, in a way that, for me, Dogsbody, say,
isn't. It has a splendid boy as a main character, who learns something
which completely transforms his relationship with his family and ends up
by building a new life for himself, and it has the lovely, creative and
very powerful (even if you don't know anything about the Norse gods)
interweaving of mythology with everyday life. Which would come close, like
I say, to the essence of What I Like About DWJ. So finding out about other
people's favourites/least favourites is another way of finding out in
detail why they like DWJ in general, which is just endlessly interesting
to me.

Hmm. I seem to just be in DWJ for the boys <g>. I should fish out my list
of All DWJ's Books In Rough Order of Preference and correlate it with the
gender of the main protagonist...

> As for why I like
> Deep Secret, I just loved the convention.

Which is interesting - especially since a few other people have said they
love DS for that reason -  because when I was struggling to put
words to what it *is* about DS that doesn't quite chime with me as
deeply/strongly as other DWJ books, which was almost but not quite what
Jadwiga said about her writing for adults being over-detailed, I thought
"It's too observational". Which seems to be what other people like about
it, in part.

Ooh, and Jennifer said:

> In fact I think my fondness for Deep Secret probably has a lot to do with
> liking the feeling and atmosphere of the book; the con, and Rupert's
> brother's farm, and the road to Babylon. Also the ghost, and Rupert being
> thwarted,

Which was interesting to me for the opposite reason, because a lot of the
things that people listed - (Dorian, I want to read the Rupert the Mage
books too! Hmm. Maybe someone should write them) - were things that I like
too. Especially this, from Kyla's list:

> I like that it's
>> told from two points of view, in a very non-confusing sort of way. I like
>> how people seen from the outside can be very unsympathetic, and seen from
>> the inside are absolutely wonderful.

Which is absolutely one of the things that I love about DWJ, and one of
the reasons it will be interesting to see how I feel about Moril in Crown
of Dalemark (especially if I *don't* like what becomes of him there,
because I'll have something to compare to all the splendid re-framing of
characters that happens across and within DWJ books all the time). Like -
Tonino is very different in Stealer of Souls, partly because we're seeing
him from the outside... And it's very rare for a writer to put their
finger on that, the way people *are* different from inside and outside,
without turning it into an opportunity to score points off their readers
or make their characters look bad. Often that kind of observation leaves
me depressed and anxious, but in DWJ it... doesn't. It makes me feel
better, and like I know better how to *manage* that inevitable mismatch:
that it doesn't have to be a source of pain or frustration or doooom, like
in all those novels about painful break-ups where each partner is
completely convincing and justified in their own point of view as long as
you inhabit it, but the lack of fit between that and their partner's view
of them tears them apart.

Anyway, but it's interesting that I seem to like most of the same *bits*
of DS as people who would put it near the top of their favourites list,
but it doesn't add up for me as well as most of the others. (Or maybe I
just have a really micro difference between 'favourite' and 'least
favourite' DWJ.)

Hee. I love seeing DWJ books from other points of view, you get a whole
different picture of them... very like, in fact, the way her characters
change from book to book (or incarnation to incarnation, like
Howl-the-genie in Castle in the Air).

Me/Kyla:

>> Jenny tells me that *Crown of Dalemark* is going to be my least
favourite when I read it, which I am procrastinating over as apparently
I
>> am not going to like what she does to Moril, and Moril is *me*.
>
> Hm. I prefer that people not tell me whether I'm going to like a book,
if
> I'm set on reading it anyway; and if there's a specific reason I'm not
going to like it in their opinion, I definitely prefer they not say,
because if I'm looking specifically for something as I read, it
definitely
> colors my perception of the book.

I usually prefer to be told - Jenny told me I would dislike all the later
Antonia Forests, f'rex, which meant I went into them cautiously and
bounced out of them going "Pah, what were you talking about, they were
*brilliant*!" Whereas if I'd been expecting them to be as good as or
better than Autumn Term/End of Term (my favourites), I might have been
disappointed.

> And is the "she" in question DWJ? I'm not sure it's fair to say that she
"does things" to her characters. I occasionally get annoyed at other
authors for "doing things" to their characters, but that's when there
are
> unreasonable plot twists and people doing utterly stupid things that are
completely out of character. DWJ characters, on the other hand, might
have
> nasty things happen to them, but it's not that she's sitting there
evilly
> cackling about how miserable she can make them (at least I wouldn't
think
> so--Minnow, care to comment? ;^), it's that that's how life goes.

Oh, I totally agree - sorry, that was lazy phrasing. I *do* actually get
cross with some authors for "things they do" to their characters, in the
sense of having bad things happen to them. Though I can't think of any
examples right now. Hmm. Anyway, but no, I never feel like DWJ is
punishing her characters (okay, except *maybe* I think she's a bit too
hard on Mitt in Drowned Ammet, but that's a whole other post), either
because she doesn't like them or because she wants to drum up some plot
out of nowhere or because she wants some emotional pornography (the three
reasons I've noticed authors punish characters). In the case of CoD, it's
just because I love Moril in C&C - I read C&C for the first time a couple
of months ago on a train and sat in gobsmacked silence for about an hour
after finishing it, weeping and refusing to talk to anyone - and I'm glad
of the warning that I might not have the same pattern of
identification/desire towards the Moril in CoD, before I go bounding into
the book all open-hearted and have my expectations baffled, as apparently
he's quite a different character. Hmm. Actually, it'll be interesting to
read it, because

Anyway, I might love it, for all I know, so I shouldn't have said
anything, really...

> Let's see, why do I like Deep Secret? I like that it's told from two
points of view, in a very non-confusing sort of way. I
like
> how people seen from the outside can be very unsympathetic, and seen
from
> the inside are absolutely wonderful. I love how little bits of truth
from
> our world are parts of a bigger and more useful truth, and how it's
completely believable. I like that parts of the story take place in
"our"
> world, and parts take place in a completely foreign world, so I get both
little frizzles of normality (the whole con, for example, even though
I've
> never been to one) and the fascination of a different culture and
governmental setup (which seems a bit similar to the complexity of
Barrayar--I've just finished rereading Shards of Honor instead of, you
know, eating lunch or going to the gym). I like how it's got funny  bits
and serious bits and horrifying bits and lovely bits. It's also got one
of
> my all-time favorite scenes, Nick-at-breakfast. Is that enough of a why?

That's a splendid why! <bounces up and down, hugging self> Thank you!
(Sorry. People explaining why they like things is my favourite thing to
read in the world, whether I like the things or not: I really appreciate
how hard it is to do, and I love being able to step into someone else's
version of my reality for a while. Um, a book can be my reality, right?
<g>)

Kyla also asked about

>> Jaclyn Moriarty

> Ooh, there's more? I read the first one when I found it on the new YA
hardcover shelf, and quite liked it.
>

Yes: Finding Cassie Crazy (in Australia/NZ/UK: in the US it has the much
less interesting [to my mind] title The Year Of Secret Assignments) is
*stunning*, about three times better than the first one (Feeling Sorry for
Celia), though it also made me like FSC a lot better. (I like authors who
write a lot of books, because - like fanfic - each new one I read changes
my relation slightly to the ones that have gone before.) And I've just
found out (<waves to Judith, gratefully>) that she's just published an
adult novel called *My Bed is Made of Buttermilk Pancakes*, but
whether/when that will come out beyond Australia, I don't know.

Eep! Long post! <blinks, surfaces from happy deep-trance
thinking-about-DWJ place> I have to get to the laundrette and the post
office before they shut for lunch!

Love, Ika

-- 
"When God changes me into a dragon, people from all walks of life will
admire me and listen to what I have to say for once in my life. Nobody
wants to listen to a scared little boy with glasses, but everyone likes
dragons."
- The confusing theology of Molatar (www.molatar.com/index.htm)



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