McKinley

Abe Gross argross at bigpond.net.au
Wed Feb 18 19:43:23 EST 2004





> >In her later books, I always feel that she's come up with the same
> >details, only hundreds and hundreds more, and she doesn't edit out any
> >of them.  So reading _Spindle's End_, any given sentence is some lovely
> >detail about a character, or the land's metaphysics, or someone's hair
> >ribbons.  Yet there are so many that, after two readings, my impression
> >of the book is one big muddle.  I can't remember it, because the details
> >are gems settled in an enhancing a narrative, but are one big bag o'
> >diamonds drowning the narrative and obscuring one another.  I don't know
> >what I'd cut, but I'd cut *something*.
>
> See now, I had the impression that the detail and confusion in that book
> was *deliberate*. I mean, it fit thematically with the plot, and the whole
> idea of confusion of identity in the final magic.
>
> Robyn

Now I agree with Robyn on this. I very much liked_Spindle's End_, and felt
that its profusion of ideas and details was in keeping with the theme of the
book and was, as Robyn says, deliberate.

I've just finished reading _Elementals: Water_, a compilation of stories by
Robin McKinley and her husband Peter Dickinson. I must say that I don't
think that McKinley's natural territory is the short story, precisely
because she has this terrific ability to tell a story and she seems to need
room to do it. So her stories here are long ones, and worked for me, though
it occurs to me that they aren't strictly short stories, but more like short
novels, perhaps? I'm kind of thinking aloud here. In a true short story,
everything is telescoped and compressed. It also occurs to me that this may
also be the reason DWJ does better, in general, in long form than in the
short story form. (In terms of McKinley, I'm thinking especially of her last
story in the collection, "A Pool in the Desert", which is being partially
set in Damar. I won't say any more, for fear of spoilers.)

I find that McKinley nearly always has the ability to drag me into a story
very quickly and hold me there. I enjoyed her stories in the collection. I
also enjoyed Dickinson's--one of them, especially, "The Kraken",--though
there was one by him that had me silly with boredom.

I haven't managed to get hold of _Sunshine_ yet, so I can't comment on that!

If anyone has read anything by Dickinson, I'd be interested in hearing what
they thought about him.

Ros



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