Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Onion Girl

So having mentioned in my last post that I used to read a lot of fantasy, I realized that I've actually read quite a bit of fantasy this year, which isn't really in keeping with my general reading choices over the last five years or so. Granted, none of that dragons and elves stuff that I read back in my middle school days, but fantasy nevertheless.

De Lint is an urban fantasist who weaves conventional fairy tales with Native American mythology, all set in the present day. There are essentially two worlds, The World As Is and the Dreamworld. I'd read a collection of his short stories a few years ago and been completely enamored by it. Having read a full novel I'm...well, less enamored anyway. (Man, I'm negative this evening, huh?)

I get that not everyone has a happy family. But the near complete dearth of families that are even content in De Lint's world throws me a bit. Nearly everyone's a victim. And yes, the message of the book is overcoming that and taking responsibility for your actions despite your past, but it gets a little one note. I'm not saying it's unrealistic, just that I'm not sure it works for me as a reader. Not because I find it upsetting but because, when a character is introduced and I immediately think, hey, I wonder what was awful about their childhood, I think there's a slight problem there.

My other issue was that I felt like the book was rather preachy. I don't really need the fact that we're responsible for our own actions and death is something to grieve because it, "diminishes us all," spelled out for me. Repeatedly.

Which isn't to say that the book wasn't enjoyable. De Lint writes women well. Far better than most male fantasists--although not as well as John Crowley or Jonathan Carroll, as he relies a bit too much on his "small, fierce women" and the idea of sisterhood. I don't actually think that this is a failure to write women well though, so much as a reflection of the fact that he's not as good a writer as either of them.

The book also picks up steam as it goes along, which led to me staying up rather too late finishing it off last night. And then I had to work late today. And work looks to be insane for the rest of the week as well. On top of that, the apartment is a mess, the sink is full to the brim, I have to clean the fridge, and I haven't even started packing for my trip to Montana. At least I got everything arranged with the cat sitter yesterday. It's all fairly stressful. So of course I'm writing on my blog instead of doing the work that needs to be done.


N said...

Oh, dragon-elf fantasy. I love how I can walk into Barnes and Noble, reach blindly for a fantasy book, and have it be one of those XD

I gotta say, after a 15 year stretch of fantasy, I'm looking forward to picking up some "regular" fiction. Haha. Not that I won't go back >_>

Meg said...

Not that I won't go back >_>

Oh, I would never stop reading fantasy entirely...Think of all the wonderful books I would miss. And hey, there are even some great fantasy books involving dragons and elves, I'm sure. I'd be happy to read them if someone told me which ones to read. I just don't have enough reading time to sort through them all for myself anymore. :)

Actually, next up on the fantasy list is The Truth by Terry Pratchett. I've never read any of the stuff he wrote on his own, only Good Omens. I don't think I'll get to it until closer to the end of the month though. Summer's always such a good reading time for me because I like to hide in my room with the air conditioning so much.