for my eyes only


My recent vacation gave me time for a rare activity — reading fiction! Here’s what I’ve been looking at:

The End of Mr. Y. by Scarlett Thomas. Sadly, I have to give this one a thumbs down. The story takes place in a modern-day academic setting. A woman finds a rare, old, out-of-print book that contains instructions for taking your mind into another dimension. While visiting this other realm, you can jump into the consciousness of other people or animals and experience their lives. The main character is well-constructed and interesting, which is probably why I stuck with the book to the end. In my opinion, the author made believable characters but the story and the other-world scenario didn’t hold together. It felt like the writer didn’t quite know where she wanted to go. The ending was especially disappointing and unengaging. And she gets a prize for dropping the name of the post-modern philosopher Derrida the most times to the least effect. (Twenty-eight times, according to my Kindle.) As if mentioning his name adds weight to the story. Nope.

A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One by George R.R. Martin. I’d heard of this author before but I think this the first time I’ve read him. I admit that the fact that this was recently filmed for TV helped pique my interest. I haven’t seen the film version. Mainly I wanted to know why authors of multi-volume fantasy epics have double R middle names. J. R. R. Tolkien and now this guy. I don’t know yet. It’s a vast story in a fantasy medieval setting with knights, eunuchs, dragon’s eggs, horses, castles, and swords. Lots of swords. Lots of fighting and stabbing and such. Beheadings. It took me a while to get used to some of these elements but soon I was hooked. The characters are compelling and the political and personal interplay is believable and there’s a good human story to tell. This is not a hero’s quest kind of story, but a very gritty tale of war, love, betrayal, etc. Too bad there are a billion more pages to go in this and the next four books. And another book or two that haven’t been written yet. Now that I’m back from vacation and have little time for reading, this is going to be a lifetime project.

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