Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Wings of Ma'at

Egyptian goddess of truth, balance, order, justice, etc., and, appropriately, the overseer of scribes.

It's been a physically wretched week. I've left my old pc unbooted for fear that a small mushroom cloud would instantly coalesce above my hard drive. Even this morning I'm typing with one hand on top of my tower to gauge its heat level, as this house does not support air conditioning.

The bulging disk in my lower back has also been decidedly unco-operative.

In the meantime I went on an Anita Blake binge--the first half dozen and a couple from later in the series, Blood Noir being one. Blood Noir was such a disappointment--a good plot basically, if one could discern it under the yawning weight of pages and pages of excruciatingly dull sex scenes.

The first half dozen, Guilty Pleasures, The Laughing Corpse, Circus of the Damned, and so on, cetainly justify Diana Gabaldon's cover comment about Laurel K. Hamilton..."I've never read a writer with a more fertile imagination."

So do a collection of her excellent short stories, Strange Candy, and the first two of her Merry Genry novels that I also found. But after Blood Noir my binge left me with the impression of a brilliant writer gone wrong. And I do consider Hamilton a brilliant writer, not only for the originality of her characters but for her use of figurative language and acute social commentary.

One interesting technical aspect of her novels is that her final chapter is always tidy and straighforward and epilogic. Very satisfying to any reader who likes their t's crossed, and a style that surmounts certain difficulties about providing information--a problem which always surrounds first person narration. One of those instances where "tell" can be more effective than pages of "show."

I'm way behind on everything. The last review I saw was from a really cute site with a charming logo called Books and Things. The reviewer gave D&D 3 and 1/2 stars--which according to her scale rates D&D between like and love!


BernardL said...

I bet the marketing stress contributed to your health glitching. Solid review. I'm enjoying D & D very much.

Lana Gramlich said...

Congrats on the good review. :) Sorry to hear your back's still not good. I remember when I slipped a couple of disks in my back last year. It took months to get back to "normal." Hang in there, hon. *hug*

Angie said...

Congrats on the review! :)

I've read the first three Anita Blake books, and enjoyed them quite a lot. I'll probably keep going again some day, get the next couple, etc. I've been warned by a number of people about the sexual shark-jump later on, though; one of the people who told me when to not bother anymore was a bookstore clerk, whom one might think would be more interested in having me spend money than not :) but she was pretty clear in her opinion.

I'll probably read at least one of the shark-jump books to see what I think myself, but pointless sex bores me, so I'm not expecting to appreciate Ms. Hamilton's new direction. [shrug] I've heard from fans of hers that she's been very firm and clear about how this is where she wants to go and she has no intention of reverting back to her old style on these books, so there you go. Whatever makes her happy, I suppose, and the readers will vote with their wallets as always.


laughingwolf said...

welcome back, m'dear... was worried

the back will take its own sweet time, and then some...

accolades just keep rolling in for d&d... yaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy!

as for gratuitous sex: many will do anything for filthy lucre, including writing crap, cuz some moronic publisher said so GRRRRRRRRRRR

wv: poron

Natasha Fondren said...

Feel better, please, Bernita!

I read the series three times. The first time was as it came out, and I LOVED the sexuality in Narcissus in Chains. But somewhere after that, I stopped reading. When I got the gig to write an essay on the series in Ardeur, I finished the books.

Then I read the whole series two more times, LOL. (Non-fiction is hard for me!) The endless internal justification got tiring, but the arc of the series did start to make sense.

I think of the series question as "What makes a monster?" If the series is viewed in that sense, then Narcissus in Chains doesn't seem to jump ship as much as it first appears. LKH confronts all the monstrous things inside ourselves that scare us, and part of that is our sexuality. In the end, I found Anita's struggle with and ultimate acceptance of her "monstrous" sexuality to be woman-empowering.

Charles Gramlich said...

I didn't think it was going to be easy to make sex dull but Hamilton succeeded. That was one of the later books in the series. I did go back and read the first in the series and it was considerably better, but I still am afraid I don't see all the originality folk talk about. Anyway, two is my limit on Hamilton. I won't get another.

fairyhedgehog said...

I'm sorry your back is still so painful.

It sounds like all the reviews are coming in good. (As is only right.)

Bernita said...

Am so glad of that, Bernard, though I don't do action nearly as well as you do.
Yes, it was a good solid review. I like it when they give the reason why an element doesn't work as well for them.The reviewer prefers pure kick-ass, I think.I can't fault her for that because I usually do too!

Lana, thank you. You are such a comfort because it helps to hear that this will eventually resolve--because there are times when I wonder if it ever will.

Don't think she intends it to be pointless sex, Angie, but it doesn't particularly reasonate with me on a sociological or metaphysical sense, even though I understand her reasoning on an intellectual level.

Thank you, Dear Guy.Heat has been "brutal" ( the perfect word from your son) and the back frustrating.
I don't think she's writing these scenes because of the mantra "sex sells" exclusively. I suspect she's exploring themes of sex and death for creative reasons.

Natasha, thank you. Haven't read them all( obviously) I understand in part her intent, but for me she just didn't pull it off.

Charles, I have to agree that she makes sex dull.Even mechanical for the most part. Perhaps some of us see her concepts as original because we simply haven't read enough in the sub-genre.

Thank you, Fairy. I'm in the "how long, O Lord?" stage iat the moment.
I am so happy about the reviews--and secretly astonished they've been so good!

BernardL said...

You underestimate your 'action' writing prowess, Bernita. The battle Lillie and Thresher waged against the reanimated corpse husband in Lillie's house, for example, was a top notch scene. I don't need non-stop action. I need a story to go along with the action. Establishing a world as in D & D, especially in first person is a monumental task. Combining story and action in a new paranormal world will always strike readers and reviewers in different ways. Frankly, any review you can get where the reviewer actually read the book is a plus. :)

writtenwyrdd said...

You know, I keep finding that when I leave comments on blogger that they disappear. It's really annoying.

But, yet again, let me say I hope the back improves soon and congrats on further good reviews of the book! Yay!

Bernita said...

Bernard, I am so glad you liked that scene because I have the highest respect for the way you handle action.! Thank you.

I agree and I've been very fortunate in my reviewers. They all strike me as honest and sincere.

Archer emailed me that he seemed to be having the same problem this week, Written, yet I found his post when I cam online.
Blogger has been so good for quite a while now that I suppose we're due for a series of problems.
I'm finding the wv doesn't show up first time on blogger.
And thank you again. You helped make it possible with your solid, intelligent critique.

raine said...

Congrats on another great review, Bernita, & sincerely hope back relief is on the way.

Lauren said...

Congrats on the review! I hope your back starts to give you some relief here soon.

laughingwolf said...

balance/order/justice... could it be any more libran? :O lol

Bernita said...

Dear Raine and Lauren, thank you.
I don't mean to whine--just to explain-- but I am so weary of pain.

So true, LW!
A daughter gave me a plaque of Ma'at which hangs in my hall.

laughingwolf said...

cool... smart daughter :)

wv: shishroa

nitebyrd said...

I enjoyed Laurell Hamilton's early Anita Blake books but the later ones are just non-stop sex w/o much plot, I doubt I continue reading. Now, Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series is like oxygen for me! She is just brilliant!

I've just started D&D after finally figuring out the PC reader thingy from B&N!

Bernita said...

It's a charming conceit to have Ma'at, LW!

I feel much the same, Nitebyrd. Gabaldon is so rich and textured.