The Foppish Drunk Book Club
My only real Resolution this year was to read more. To that end, I resolved to read a book, one a month, that I have never read before and preferably never even heard of. I am happy to report that currently I am two for two: January saw me diving into Life Of Pi by Yann Martell (which Amazon was happy to sell to me for 20p!) while February had me learning about the Wizard’s First Rule, by Terry Goodkind. The two are very different books and I shall elucidate you briefly on what I thought of them below.
I’m going to need suggestions for March, by the way. I want to read books I’ve never heard of but that have been recommended to me by people rather than me sticking a pin in the Amazon Kindle Marketplace. If you have a suggestion for a good book then please let me know! (Except you, Jemma. You’ll find out why shortly.) Maybe we could start a book club! Yays!
The Life of Pi, by Yann Martell
Well it’s been a month since I finished reading this book so my recollection may be fuzzy, especially as I will be doing my best to avoid spoilers for anyone who has neither read the book nor seen the film… But I think I liked this one. Not necessarily loved, but liked. The front is slightly waffley and I get the feeling that a lot of it wasn’t there for much of a better reason than as an elaborate setup for the unusual name of the main character but the prose carries you along and once you hit the meat of the story it is very difficult to actually put the thing down. The ending… I don’t know how I feel about. Part of me thought it was an interesting twist that shed a completely different light on pretty much everything that went before it. Another, slightly more pragmatic part felt somehow cheated, like reading the book was a bit of a waste of time. Overall though, I’m glad I did.
Wizard’s First Rule, by Terry Goodkind
Speaking of being glad I read something… That can’t really be said for this. When my friend Jemma told me about the existence of the series I was quite excited because I love me a good fantasy series. Wizard’s First Rule is the first, I shaln’t be reading the rest. I suppose the easiest way to explain why is that at regular intervals I was checking the internet to make sure this wasn’t a book written for younger readers. Younger, special needs readers. Specifically, younger special needs readers from the United States, because oh my god I have never been more aware that a character in a book is speaking in contemporary American English, and bearing in mind this is set in a medieval fantasy world that is somewhat disappointing. Now I’m aware, if only tangentially, that not every fantasy novel can reach Game Of Thrones-levels of immersion and characterisation but I mean at least give it a go? It’s like Goodkind got an imaginative twelve-year old to tell him a story and he just… Wrote it down. Character development is binary, the fantasy devices he uses are used and thrown away at need and are completely arbitrary, plot developments don’t foreshow so much as loom in front of you and blot out the Sun, the prose is just cloying… Urgh. Didn’t like. No, Terry Goodkind. Bad Terry Goodkind!
The impressive thing is, it got snapped up by publishers, he got advanced a shitload for it and he went on to write a ton more. If anyone has read some or all of the remaining, I’m curious: do they get better? I’m probably not going to ever find out firsthand, but I am academically interested.
The not-very-good-ness of Wizard’s First Rule has had one beneficial effect though; it spurred me to start a new writing project (queue groans from the audience. I know, I know). I want to prove to myself that I can do magic and dragons and stuff better than that. I can and I will and I must. I’m going to look into online story publishing so I can upload snippets, or I might even post bits here, once I’ve started hammering stuff out. I need people to prod me if I don’t though. I’m thinking of having this picture framed and hung on my wall: