[DWJ] DWJ on Bujold

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Tue May 13 13:25:44 EDT 2008

>On Tue, 13 May 2008, Juliette Curtis wrote:
>> I am reading "A Civil Campaign" by Lois McMaster Bujold. It's in the
>> anthology "Miles in Love" and there's a quote from DWJ on the back cover.

Deborah wrote:
>ObDisclaimer 1: I love "A Civil Campaign".
>ObDisclaimer 2: If there are people who don't know how much I
>love DWJ, you folks are certainly not among them.

DWJ is a fan of LMMB, and sees her books before most of us (grrrr...)
because of their also being friends.  So the chances are that anything she
has on a LMMB hardback book is for real and she read the book before it was

>But both of those being said, DWJ is a bit of what my friend in
>the publishing biz calls "a blurb whore". It is possible that she
>reads all of the books for which provides blurbs. It is even
>possible that she likes them all as much as she says she does,
>although given her general level of snark I find that hypothesis
>suspect. But as a reviewer, I read vast piles of banal mid-list
>fantasy for children, and DWJ's blurbs find themselves onto the
>covers of a lot of those.

One of the things about reading is that one can do it when one is made
seriously ill by the pain involved in sitting up to write, and one hurts
too much to be able to do the writing well anyhow.  DWJ reads a lot of
books, because it is something to do when writing hurts her spine too much
for her to concentrate on her own plots.

A fair few people send her books to read without specifying whether these
are potentially-for-review, blurb-solicitations, or just because they want
her to have something new to read (one publisher in America is particularly
good about sharing stuff just for enjoyment).  DWJ is reluctant to be
unpleasant, and if asked will try to find something to say about what she
has read that is not nasty: this is like the way that she's nothing like as
rude about unwarranted alteration made to her books as she would like to be
sometimes.  If the thing is goodish, she may be polite about the style, for
instance, and keep quiet about the orcs-*again*, or the loveable dragon and
never mind the missing verbs...

I have been present when DWJ has declined to make a favourable comment on a
book because she thought it was not worth reading.

>Of course, THAT being said, there is nothing to be ashamed of in
>doing what you can to support the careers of up-and-coming

The trouble can comes when remarks made under the impression that they were
for the author and meant to be encouraging, turn up on the book's blurb as
a strong recommendation.  If you made a fuss, [a] it wouldn't be possible
to remove it anyhow and [b] the author would most certainly be hurt.

[Stop panicking, Charlie: that has nothing to do with you! :-) ]

>(According to My Friend in the Publishing Biz, the biggest blurb
>whore of all time is Noam Chomsky.)

I did once try to persuade Anne McCaffrey to give me an *un*favourable
comment for the back-cover blub of a book I was publishing, just to be
different.  :-)

She wouldn't.

Peter Morwood, in a helpful spirit, gave us 'This . . . . book', and
insisted that the number of dots between the two words must not be altered.
I think we also used 'Comparable with the art of J.R.R. Tolkein at its
most panoramic', but I can't remember who said it.

>> My thanks to the list for introducing me to Bujold. I am enjoying her books
>> very much. Unfortunately I can't get into Heyer, although I've tried several
>> times lately based on the listers' recommendations. The language is too
>> right foorsoothly, even in the sensibly written books, and it drives me up
>> the wall within four pages.
>I picked up so many great recommendations from this list. I'm
>sorry that you aren't liking Heyer, but since what I love best
>about her is her completely over-the-top language, I can
>definitely see that she wouldn't work for you if that part of the
>joke is aggravating instead of funny.

I find her books set in a more distant past to be full of forsoothliness,
some of it wildly wrong, but if one looks for the stuff from her Regency
books it generally seems to be in the 1933 Shorter Oxford, which is fair
enough given when Heyer was living and writing, I feel.  Or else she has
got it out of something published in the 1812-1818 period, and it was slang
of that period at least in that reference work.  The pre-Regency things
(apart from the postumously-published *My Lord John*, which she carried on
playing with for most of her life) were all written before *Regency Buck*
in 1935, so when she was less than 33 and in at least some cases living
abroad and cut off rather from looking things up, apart from *The Talisman
Ring* (1793, 1936), the 'historical' *Royal Escape* (1651, 1938) and
*Faro's Daughter* (1795, 1941).  After that she stuck to her Regency, thank
goodness, unless she was writing 'tec.

I don't think there is any language in Jane Austen that raises eyebrows by
needing to be translated for the modern reader, and I am more-or-less
certain that in the Regencies Heyer was simply having fun putting unusual
and slangy phrases into the mouths of her wild-younger-brother types.  But
if it sets one's back up there is no point in reading Heyer's work, I would

Which reminds me, can anyone by any chance pinpoint any places where JA
uses 'gotten'?  I need something contemporary and Utterly Acceptable In The
Literary World to make a point for an American who has been told that she
can't use 'gotten' in a book set in 1815 London because it's American.  I'm
fairly sure that she shouldn't, mostly because the modern readers will
*assume* that it is a modern Americanism and partly because one can always
find a perfectly good verb to put instead and 'got' is so often a bit slack
(as in 'gotten to' could be 'arrived at' or 'attained' or whatever and say
more about how reaching the place or understanding felt), but I am equally
sure that in 1815 it was perfectly good English-English usage; I just can't
*find examples* drat it.


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