Thursday, January 23, 2014 Akethan's review of Elidor

"His mane flowed like a river in the moon: the point of the horn drew fire from the stars. Roland shivered with the effort of looking. He wanted to fix every detail in his mind for ever, so that no matter what else happened there would always be this." It's been a number of years since I read Garner's books. I pulled them out and started into ELIDOR. Turns out - I didn't remember any details of this book in the series, so it truly was a new reading to me. Like so many of my favorite writers, Garner fits enough plot and character into 145 pages whereas many writers can't make a clean work in 500 pages. Written in the late '60's and my copy a reprint from the early '80's - it has a definite Narnia plot running - thin walls between our world and another that is being swallowed by darkness and needs the help of four siblings (David, Nicholas, Helen & Roland). A shift between the two worlds - a hunt for magical treasures is followed by a return to normal life at home and the slipping away of whether it ever happened at all. Similarities - but this story runs darker than Narnia. And the reminders of their adventure keep jabbing at these kids - bursts of static electricity, phantom silhouettes in the rose garden, some serious harassment of these folks front door and mail slot and even a handful plastic prizes: "Are you saying Malebron's sending us souvenirs from Hong Kong?") While the kids turn skeptic, Roland alone packs enough faith to keep the whole bunch on the right track and the story takes some clean, sharp turns - before clipping off abruptly. Geek notes: Had to go online and look-up a few things (dolmen - / and even found their old house address at 20 Fog Lane, Manchester: mappable). I'll be on into reading the next book in the series and see if it keeps me guessing, too. Akethan's review of Elidor

Saturday, January 18, 2014 Akethan's review of Killing With The Edge Of The Moon

I came across a short story by Attanasio in an '07 sci-fi/fantasy magazine - and really was taken with the amount of story and rich description he could pack in so few pages (he's a monster with description). In looking up other books, this is the first one I went to - liking the summary of magic, faerie, doors between worlds, and keen to meet the Black Dog. Attanasio's style holds true: these 150 pages hold more thoughtful writing and depth of detail than Twilight can manage in 550. Less is more. "For an instant, she seemed woven of light." The keen way Nedra is stitched together and contrasted with her waifish, initially disconnected granddaughter, Flannery arcs nicely as their relationship and understanding of each other grows through experience and exposure. Poor, hapless Chet's transformation from nerdling into young warrior: "All I wanted was to go to the spring dance with her -- and now we're already at death do us part." The line between our world and the Otherworld - distinct at times and blurrily overlapping at others, "in dreams, where the two worlds bleed together." The allure of the easy way - even if its self-destructive or outright false. Great, sharp details are called out for the dragon's lair: "The acetylene brilliance illuminated clotted arches and stalactite lofts of a gruesome cathedral." The story holds neatly together as a written work and (but for a swelling "ta da" moment in the last chapter) avoids made-for-the-big-screen sloppiness that a lot of current fantasy is fouled by. As "dogs love to fetch a good bone", I will fetch more works by Attanasio.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened: Allie Brosh: 9781451666175: Books

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened: Allie Brosh: 9781451666175: Books:

"I yearned for attention and approval, and I couldn't exactly afford to be picky about how I earned it." Brosh is brutally comic and straightforward. The raw nature of the stories offset by the cave-like sketches strikes a balance. The material runs dark. I read some reviews that call this needed - the author finding creation through pain. "Sweet, semidigested success." I think I stand closer to a reviewer that neatly coined "circular self-flagellation". Brosh just can't get enough of telling you - hammering home - just how sh*tty and awful she really, really is. I don't ding her for being honest or self-aware, there were many places in the book that resonated with me. "Dogs' Guide" really brings this point home for me: Brosh is her dogs / her dogs are her. We are animals: it's just our element of self-awareness, the worry of social perception (shame) that keeps veneers in place and creates society. Brosh is reaching out in this book - if awkwardly - "interacting with you." The glimmers of hope, no matter how pounded down, are the best. "Lost is the Woods" does a sharp job of seeing Brosh through her mother: "her natural sense of direction was no match for the sheer amount of directions there are." I loved "The Parrot" - and aunt Laurie who "had a soft spot for chaos." The best aspects of this book expose the painfulness of connection and open a conversation about how real and raw our feelings can be and trying to come to terms with the monsters hitching a ride. "There's nothing love and hope can't fix." And that alone is an "unexpectedly exceptional thing."