Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Book Meme

I've been tagged. I don't think I've ever been tagged before...

I really suck at these things. I find it almost impossible to think of an answer for the questions on the spot, and end up spending far more time on them than is necessary or appropriate.

1. One book that changed your life?

The sad and honest truth is that a really crap book changed my life. Reading it, I first grokked what storytelling was about, and my already burgeoning desire to be a writer solidified into a full-blown ambition. The book was L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth, which if you haven't read it is every bit as bad as you might think. There's one scene in which the protagonist is getting suited up for a big meeting with shark lawyers from space or some such thing, and after reading Hubbard's description of the clothes he was wearing, I realized that I could see what he looked like in my mind. No doubt I'd had this experience before, but this was the first time I realized it was happening. I mentioned it to my dad, who explained that a good writer could make a reader visualize something using only words. And that's when I decided that writing was the job for me.

As an adult, I went back and tried to reread Battlefield Earth, and couldn't make it terribly far into the book at all. I reached a point a hundred or so pages in, when it became clear that Hubbard had forgotten what had happened at the novel's beginning and gone off in a different direction. I suppose when dictating a book that length, that sort of thing is bound to happen...

2. One book you have read more than once?

I haven't reread it for years, but from college onwards I used to read Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle ever few years. Looking back on it, I'm not sure how I found something like affirmation and hope in such a bleak, cynical portrait of human failing, but I did.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?

I'm with Lou in wanting to take along a book too long for me to finish in regular life. Stephenson's Baroque Cycle seems as good a choice as any.

4. One book that made you laugh?

Actually, the last time I laughed outloud reading a book was a point midway through Kage Baker's Sky Coyote. It's a really understated moment after Joseph has outlined the threat of the white men in their magic canoes for the Chumash, in lengthy and mythical terms, and after a pause the Chumash chief says, "So... we're to interpret all of this literally, then."

5. One book that made you cry?

Dan Simmons's Hyperion. As a parent, the stuff with Sol Weintraub and his de-aging daughter literally wrecked me.

6. One book you wish had been written?

I'm not sure I get the question, but I'll give it a shot. Clearly, the book the world needed and was denied was Tarzan on Barsoom by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

7. One book you wish had never had been written?

Nothing really springs to mind.

8. One book you are currently reading?

On the flight to San Diego a week and a half ago I started Edgar Allan Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, and got bogged down halfway through, well before anything interesting happens (assuming anything interesting happens, about which I'm not confident). Since my return, I've done little more than read a few comics and magazines.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?

I'm in the process of reading all of Michael Moorcock's novels and stories at the moment. In the last few weeks I've read the Cornelius Quartet, Revenge of the Rose, and The Dancers at the End of Time. Having realized that so much of what I'm currently doing Mike did years ago, and better, I've decided that I really have no excuse for having read only about half of his body of work. Starting in June, then, I've resolved not to read anything for pleasure until I read all forty odd of Moorcock's books. I'll still read books for research (like Poe's Arthur Gordon Pym) and the occasional comic book, but until I've finished with Moorcock I won't read anything else on my To Read pile.

10. Now tag five people.

Paul Cornell
Deanna Hoak
Jess Nevins
Mark Finn
Jayme Lynn Blaschke

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