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First, last minute book report: Ancestral Hamster ([ profile] vegetius) asked me about my mystery-reading habits in the context of the Sayers books, and I only just remembered to answer him.

Short books help me be prolific:
Dorothy L. Sayers, Five Red Herrings
Jo Walton, Ha'penny
Dorothy L. Sayers, Have His Carcase
Dorothy L. Sayers, Murder Must Advertise
Susan Palwick, Shelter
Dorothy L. Sayers, The Nine Tailors
Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night
Robin McKinley, Dragonhaven
Diana Wynne Jones, Witch Week (reread)
Dorothy L. Sayers, Busman's Honeymoon
Plus I did some of the other kind of short fiction reading. Can anybody point me to a good analytical discussion of Kelly Link by people who like her? (Especially "The Girl Detective", or to a lesser extent "Magic For Beginners".)

Anyway, I have a job, now (working in the warehouse for a clothing store, and the weirdest thing about it is that I'm spending all these hours each week doing something with no connection whatsoever to the rest of my life. I suppose I'm supposed to have got more used to that by this stage), so presumably this month I'm going to have to either cut down on the reading for pleasure or be tremendously irresponsible. I'll let you know which one. It does mean that I can afford to go down to Oregon during my spring break, though, so I am doing that!

Things on the internet:

Is anybody else following Shadow Unit? Here's the on-site explanation, in case you, like me, are likely to be overwhelmed by an in media res website unless you get some out-of-character grounding. Some of the peripheral aspects, like the fictional livejournals, are a little too (simultaneously) twee and disorienting for me, but I have high hopes for this combination of authors.

Rachel found this striking picture, and this one:
...the widow of René de Chalon, prince of Orange, who died in battle in 1544, aged 25, has asked the sculptor Ligier Richier to represent him offering his heart to God, in the condition he now is in, a few years after his death, set against the painted splendour of his former worldly estate.
Also, from a while ago, here is the amazing Bob Dylan interview that made me get his music.

P.S. Sometimes I put in the 'music' field the song that happens to be playing when I'm just about to post, and sometimes I put the song that I've been listening to over and over, more often than every other song combined over the past couple of days. Today is one of the latter cases.

Date: 2008-02-04 07:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I want to hear more about your job eventually.

And, hooray you're coming! ^____^

And, yeah. Both of those pictures. Le Transi de René de Chalon became one of my favorite things really fast.

Date: 2008-02-04 07:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I haven't really been talking about it to anyone, because see above re: having no connection at all to the rest of my life. There are some people and they seem nice. I put price tags and security tags on clothes and hang them up sometimes and break down boxes and put them in the recycling. The other guy in the warehouse (which is in the basement of the store) keeps the local traffic station on all the time for background noise, and I wonder if the announcers it employs, repeating the same headlines and bulletins and exhortations to call in with minute variations every five minutes for hours on end, feel as weird and detached about their work as I do about mine.

I mean, it's not bad. Plus, money! It's just that most of the stuff I'm learning, I don't know if it will ever be important in any other context at all.

-Andy H.

Date: 2008-02-04 05:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I was desperate for analytical discussion of Kelly Link for a while but had no idea where to start looking for it. I'd be glad to discuss it with you, but I don't know if I have much insight to share.

My current working thesis is that Link's stories take place simultaneously in a mythic and a nonmythic reality, and that these have no perceptible border, and that in fact the protagonists are often defined by their inability to notice transitions between them. Holly pointed out once that there's a very distinct sense of story-as-object in her fiction; the narrator character seems to be handling the whole thing like a precious, handworn, not-necessarily-deactivated land mine.

What drives me crazy is her use of tense. She slips back and forth between present, past and occasionally future, sometimes in mid-paragraph, and it doesn't seem to necessarily correspond to the mythic/nonmythic divide. Maybe it indicates a change in the perception of the narrator? Maybe I'm completely on the wrong path?

Anyway, your asking about this inspired Wednesday's story.

Date: 2008-02-06 07:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That theory does explain some things, although the things that it explains are on a structural rather than a plot level -- how it is that the protagonist is able to receive certain phone calls in "Magic for Beginners", but not why those calls are made, or what they mean.

I have read three of her stories, now -- "The Wizards of Perfil", "Magic for Beginners", and "The Girl Detective" -- and been progressively more bewildered by each. "Wizards" made intuitive sense to me all through, and though there were definitely hints of depths I wasn't sure about, these were the pleasant and contained sort that I am used to handling. "Magic" left me asking, "Wait, what just happened?" but I was able to follow the character and thematic arcs. "The Girl Detective" turned me into the second speaker in your story -- and I am rather heartened to encounter this evidence that other people feel that way, since it looks like I did pretty well at keeping my question in this post from being any sort of primal scream. I can't tell if there is more than one character in that story, or who it is, or whether anything that's described actually takes place, or, if it doesn't, what it implies happens instead. I was afraid I was being rather stupid.

I suppose that if I were a different archetype of internet-user, I would announce that she made no sense and that everybody who admires her is a snobbish fraud. But A) the people who admire her, by and large, are people I respect, and trust to confine themselves to clothed emperors ("The Girl Detective" is in [ profile] coffeeandink's personal canon of SF short fiction!), and B) there clearly is something going on in these stories, and something compelling. The patterns, those recurring images in "Detective", they didn't happen by accident. I keep feeling like if I find just the right way to hold my head it will all be perfectly comprehensible, but actually reading it is like trying to do a 'magic eye' in too many dimensions.

(I actually wonder if I'm maybe missing a magic realism reading protocol. I mean, I liked that Salman Rushdie novel I read a while back, but I might have been reading it as fantasy, interpolating a more mimetic and consistent magic than was actually supported by the text.)

Anyway, I thought that if I could read someone clever who admired her talking more specifically about their experiences with these stories it might help me get a handle on this; I asked for links rather than discussion, though, because I didn't really feel like I had anything to add except being continually plaintive. But with that caveat I'm certainly curious about your experience as much as anyone's (it sounds like it might be closer to mine than I'd thought).

-Andy H.


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Andy H.

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