Oy, Wotcher readin' ?
Just finished reading “Killer Move” by one of my favorite suspense writers, Michael Marshall Smith. Others are Giles Blunt, Iain Banks (when he goes there), and for utterly different reasons(pure entertainment), Christopher Brookmyre. Trippy ‘cause all of them lean into the ultra-violent at times, a place I doubt I could ever get myself to write into. There's a prohibition/inhibition there for me, as strong as the firewall that would prevent me from actually committing murder. Horsey just stops. That is that. Still, these are my top suspense pimps. I wish they would write more, but I respect that people have to have lives, even when that inconveniences moi. I’m the tardis. Bigger inside.
I think, (or hope,) that rather than the attraction being the sometimes gruesomely violent content, it’s the actual words. They talk right some good, as the Newfies say.
Michael Marshall Smith and Giles Blunt clothe muscular narratives with an embarrassment of elegant observations of human nature,(That last sentence is me arse-ing around trying to sound like an actual reviewer) and Banks is just a merry savage with boundless facility. Open his page to your eye and prepare to have cabers hoiked into your brainpan. Brookmyre. Well. Go get some. Honors go to him for best title ever: ‘Quite Ugly One Morning.’ P.S.: Must parlate Scotto. Or will be absolutamente losto.
Both M. Marshall Smith and Banks also write in Sci Fi/Fantasy, my genre favourites. I think it's why when they write into what might be construed as horror or suspense it doesn't seem quite as samey-samey as some others. For example, I adore Steven King's moment-to-moment writing, but I know it's unwise to attach to any of his characters, and (and he might punt the dog for punctuation and no other reason. Another personal firewall) I know there will be a turning point where everything will turn bad, stay bad and get worse. That's a default, and it bugs me in the same way that reading Diana Gabaldon does. No-- wait-- I like D.G, just, since she's slated as Romance, the deal goes, she turns humpy-humpy every dozen pages or less. I loved everything else about her Outlander series, but I just skipped through the humpy. Yes, a hump here or there, that's life. Ten pages to the next hump, that's OCD. That's an issue for me with genre writing, except SF and F. Sci-Fi chews up formula.
There once was a hump from humphump Peru, who humphump found chewing gum on his hump shoe, humphumphump, He'd humhump come down from his humphump hill but hump he's stuck up humhumphump there still, it's Wrigley's! humphumphump Can he wriggle hump free? hump Noooo.
Am I explaining properly? It probably seems like I've just dissed Steven King. No, no. You've put my luggage on the wrong bus! It’s me, it’s not him.(said the big girl) I don’t like to know where a story will end. My problem is with genre. I know where King’s headed, see. Not plot or anything. I just know it’s gonna be bad. It’s like going to hospital knowing they’ll remove an organ. It’s a given. It’s what hospitals do. They have other masters. If you know you have no hope of health, why go into the effing hospital. Who cares what organ comes out. There’s no good scenario. That said, I like King’s voice so much, I have read 1/2 to 3/4’s of many of his novels but only actually finished his book on writing, various reviews, (which I love) and got quite close to the end of ‘11/22/ 63’ I loved the historical detail, the ride etc., until the end part when the protag. goes back the future. Then the scalpel was waving and the world was sepia dinge like when you dream with contaminants in your blood(don't get too excited, Coca-cola does that to me) and I thought it was a fine time to wake up. It ain’t my job to feed the lizards.
Clearer? Crapsicles. It still sounds wrong. Okay. It's like when you're having a live conversation with someone and it's engaged, and you're exchanging, and then they start to complain. And even if it’s artful, they do it again, and again, and you realize they aren't talking to you at all, they are running a program. I think it’s fair to slip off. –er, must floss.
I don’t think this is going well. This is why I’ll never be a U.N. Ambassador. Dear Mr. King. You are excellent except when you veer the same way over and over per your genre. Look, no hards, you take your dogs for a walk and try not to be hit by a truck and I’ll go weed.
P.S. I also have a wife named Tabitha. We’re like the same guy, except I sleep more and write less. And, mine isn’t a wife. More of a close relly. Heh, heh.
An-y-hoozle. Weird. Look at that. This trench just opened up under my feet. Hm.
Y/A hit ‘Across the Universe’ and ‘A Million Suns,’ by Beth Revis. As touted on the cover, a banner beginning and I was hooked almost to the end of the first book. Then I read the second book. What had functioned well as an adult crossover novel in the first, faded in the second. The Y/A -ness, the romantic element, started to amp up. (it is a Y/A novel)I got a noseful of Twilight damage and lost true interest, although there were some really nice story elements.
Also when it began, the feel of the protagonists attachment to her parents rang a little younger than I felt would play for a post sexual experience teen. Had me confused.
Also recently read: All Clear and Blackout by Connie Willis. I really liked the historical detail in these two and the general idea of historians going back in time to study these pivotal events. However, I couldn’t fly with a central conceit that the characters agonized over and over again; Do we change history with each weeny interaction with the ‘contemps’? It was so fundamental and yet, this was an established culture that had been time travelling a long while and suddenly we seemed to have the first crop of self–questioners. And they self questioned lots and lots. Lots of reiteration made me impatient with the pace and, crap audience that I am, I began to skim the bits of self-questioning. So picky. Anyway, the historical detail was really nice. My little mum lived through the blitz. She was just the other side of childhood, back from school in France, and wasn’t sent away. I think the bombings rattled her to the end of her days. She’d tell us about the house across the way with its’ bathtub hanging by one leg from the second floor into the elegant parlour. Every time she told that she’d laugh until there were tears in her eyes. It weren’t right.
Right now I’m reading Alastair Reynolds ‘Blue Remembered Earth.’ Love A. Reynolds. He’s challenging to read. You gotta jog to keep up. You can’t lapse into a booky coma. I often read at work, while other people are talking(ha!) and I can’t do it with this smarty-doublet. You have to stick your whole cabbage on, or your cow will really be on the ice, as the Swedes say. Some of them. Those with cows. Again, Reynolds can’t write fast enough for me. But he does write long enough. This book is 505 pages. If my house were broken into it’d be the first thing I’d lob at the intruder. KUNK. It's a biggun. And I mistakenly ordered it twice, so I have the hardcover in case there are two invaders. Also I have a statue of some kind of goddess with lots of pointy breasts and I think that could make an impressive impression in a skull.
Did I mention I'm not naturally given to violence?
Right. Now I'm off to the garden to run my favorite default.
My beloved dog, Kitty passed on to higher puppy planes this time last year. She had a pretty great final year. Her death was sudden. She was, in the words of a mentor: happy, happy, happy--dead. Not bad.
It wasn’t always great. When I first got her, I had scant info from the SPCA. Her owner, an invalid, had had to give her up. She'd been in the SPCA a long time, transferred from Kelowna. Her name was Nikita, or Nikki. But I'd gone to get a cat, and remained fixated. Hence, Kitty. I know. I know.
In her first year with me sometimes she'd see a man of a certain tall, spare, build and would get very excited, hopeful. If we passed park benches she would often curl under them as if by long habit. She missed someone terribly. And she was inconsolably afraid.
The slightest noise and Kitty rattled from the soul. After Halloween the first year, she never would go out at night again. There’s this bizarre firecracker thing in Vancouver at Halloween. Pop-up stores sell screaming spitting incendiaries to every girl and boy for about a month beforehand. You’d swear you were in a war zone. Halloween is a crap day to be a dog in Vancouver. Anyway, from that point Kitty dug her paws in at the very idea of going out at night. You could drag her but she'd just shake. I mean really shake, like a machine that's had enough and the nuts and bolts are flying and taking out eyes.
I learned to listen for what might set her off. A truck backing up a few blocks away, and she might bolt.
She did like to go out predawn. The peace before our yappy minds and bangy ways get going. I’m still in the habit of walking through the woods before the sun is up because of her. Me and the coyotes.
I took to singing affirmations for her when we walked, and if you think that’s flaky, I see your point, but it’s a small peak on my giant glacier of flakedom and I really can’t apologize. It’s who I am.
And so on for about twenty verses. The affirmations weirdly worked on other people. I sang “everybody loves my dog.” It worked, kinda. I rarely met a person who didn’t go doo-lally at the sight of her. Well, she was beautiful. Alas my affirmations did zip for her fear.
Then, year two, when Halloween was approaching again and I heard the first firecrackers start to go, I was desperate. The first Halloween, her shakes lasted weeks.
I found a pet psychic in Kelowna. Yes I did. I can’t remember exactly what details she asked for—I think it was just the breed, species and problem. Anyway, when she got back to me, she said “stop singing to your dog." I hadn't mentioned the singing. But apparently it made Kitty more nervous. She was always listening hard in case of danger, and I was ignorantly running interference. Plus, she thought I wasn't paying attention. Double danger. So much for affirmations.
Three years in, Kitty began to calm down. She no longer ran away at sudden noise. When we’d walk, every so often, she’d press her muzzle into my pocket or my hand. I can still feel it.
She started to play with toys. She started to chase squirrels. She started to smile.
Having had only cats for ten years it was hard to get used to her being a total Klingon. She followed me everywhere. She looked at me with the most affection when I was sitting on the toilet. I considered perhaps she was thinking “I do that too!” Then a friend said, “She’s probably thinking: I drink out of that.”
Year four. You could say the name of someone unpleasant like so "VILE SOCIOPATH/POLITICIAN (insert your choice) is a SQUIRREL!" And she’d go crazy, barking her fur off and looking for the pernicious rodent. Good Times.
We had six years. Me and little buddy.
I had a dream. Kitty ran away an over a hill. The night was busy. In the pitch black you could hear raucous laughter, parties everywhere. I knew she’d be afraid of the noise. I ran out into the dark. Into the woods. An older man of a certain spare build called me, holding open the door of a log cabin. It was the only light in the nightscape. Inside the light was warm, golden inviting, like firelight. Kitty was there. She was lying down under his bed, not panting, sprawled, relaxed. The man said: ‘I’ve got her now, it’s okay.’
My beloved furs, all:
I love that somewhere in the world, cows roam freely. People pass them in the street and greet them like old pals. They feed them out of the windows of cars. The cows sleep unmolested and carefully navigated around in the middle of roads.
A friend was telling me about a beach where she holidayed with her hippy dippy pals, while cows slept nearby in the warm sand. One came up to nuzzle her husband and was fed grapes. Wild dogs played in the waves. Everyone just minding thier p's and q's. Sounds like heaven. But it was, in fact, Goa. Considering that cows over here have such grim lives, I call that balance...
and it makes me think of Stephen Segall. More below.
This is the honest-to Pete story of a man who was a lama.
I have no idea if it's really true, so in an effort to offset the tarbrush of slander, let's call our hero Schmeeman Schmeagall.
Most of us sleepy Plebes barely remember what happened this morning. Let alone what happening in a past or adjacent reality. Not so with Schmeeman. Not only did he remember who he had been before he wound up inhabiting a robust little body of the Schmeagall lineage, but others remembered his tracks through the ethers too, including, it is said, the great spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama of Thibet. Yes, that one. Lama with one 'L' .
Perhpas Thibet knew she would need warriors. Whatever the reason, with the spin of the wheel of rebirth, the body within which young Schmee. took up residence, was one DNA encoded by a long line of shit-kickers. The chin of it, had it been examined by a physiognomist of the old days, would have been pronounced "a Martian chin." The belief being that the body bits correlated directly to our solar system's bits. Mars, being the god of war, well, you get the picture. Schmee's jaw alone was a snowplough of pure volition. If no consciousness at all had inhabited the little Schmeagall body except the memories that bloomed in it's blood, it might still have laid all kinds of waste.
As it was, as the hulking form stretched to it's full magnificent size and set it's masthead of a chin into the waters of life, it only laid waste to a little good taste(though, taste, she varies).
Thank all the stars and planets, that tamed by the lama's guiding soul,(which sat in his attic like the Mona Lisa holding a very long leash) the thing carried out it's evangelism of fist and foot in the land of Make Believe where the blood was made of corn syrup and food stain and the blows never fell on tender flesh.
Schmee became an actor.*
Thus after hundreds of years monking around the high hills of Tibet, banging gongs and writing soft psalms in sand, Schmee, the soul that was a lama with one L, comfortably, balanced the passive lives he had led in one gaudy chain of harmlessly faux brutality. And one body, a cyclone of biological imperative and pure pow-pow, expressed itself, free of bloody karma.
*it's my theory that 'acting' is remedial human school, and it's a good thing to corral all those otherwise psychotic individuals that do it and give them some leggo.)