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2004-12-02 8:24 PM
Nifty-Good Things, All of 'Em
This morning I finished the best book I've read in over a year -- Glen David Gold's Carter Beats the Devil. I'd read the first 1/3 of the book earlier this year, after attending a reading by him at Quail Ridge Books, but then I got distracted and didn't pick it up again until November. I started from the first page again and was hooked.
The writing was superb, with great characterizations and an interesting sort of omniscient point of view that drifted among characters at will that shouldn't have worked, but somehow did. The research he must've done was overwhelming, and above all, the plot didn't disappoint.
Plot seems to be the element missing from most "mainstream" novels (though I wouldn't really call this novel mainstream, more slipstream, I think, if you wanna slap a label on it. But this book had a clever structure (it's set up in basically three acts (Gold has written for TV and the movies) as many books and movies are, but he starts with action in the present in 1923, then goes into an extended flashback that delves into the childhood of Carter the magician. The flashbacks are fully realized and what's more -- everything fits! There's no wasted space in the book, and it's a tight-pack, small-fonted 500-page novel.
Reading Carter reminded me of what a really great novel needs -- a great, troubled protagonist, plot twists that make the reader uncomfortable yet unable to stop reading, risk-taking, and above all (for a historical novel) research. I've got lots of work to do for my own novel set ten years before this book. Lots and lots. Yikes.
So I finished up that novel this morning, just in time to start reading Interzone 195, which finally arrived on my doorstep today. This issue features my Wannoshay novelette "Redemption, Drawing Near" (which is actually chapters 1 and 4 of The Wannoshay Cycle) along with some fantastic art and some interesting-looking stories. So -- what are you waiting for? Get a subscription already! Or buy me one as an xmas gift, what the heck...
And yes, I know the TTA site has a horrendous user interface -- select how you want to pay for a sub, click OK, then click the gold TTA Press button at the bottom. Terrible UI.
A site with a nifty design is the Scattered, Covered, Smothered site, where you can peruse the hefty list of contributors to the anthology about food. Included in there is a bio and photo of my lovely wife, who has a recipe included in there (her first sale! Wahoo!). Can't wait to get a copy of that book in time for Xmas.
Today feels a bit like Xmas (okay, I'm getting tired of these lame-ass transitions, but I can't stop myself!), because I also got some cool news from fellow writer Anna Tambour, who's posting one of the two original stories from my story collection up at her Web site, over on the far right, in her "Virtuous Medlar Circle (thoroughly bletted)" section. So go on over and read "An Outrider's Tale" in its entirety! I've always liked that story about brigands and hopeless love and roses (not to mention disfigurement and arcane books of magic!).
Which leads me to the last bit of good news from the past few days -- you can now rush on over to the Prime Books Web site and buy yourself a copy of my first book, Gunning for the Buddha! I can't wait to get my author's copies in the mail, any day now. Very cool. Get all the details on my Buddha page. Finally! My first book!
Whew. Okay. I'm done now. Later!
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