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Monday, April 4, 2011

March - Steerpike, Nie the Hever, and Golem XIV

In lieu of gold stars on the fridge, I am awarding myself 3 Dioses, 1 per book read in March.

1. Imaginary Magnitude, Stanislaw Lem - A re-read (it was loaned out for a long time after I first read it), this book is a brilliant and absurd collection of book introductions and sales pitches from the future, building up to a recording of MIT scientists “conversations” with GOLEM XIV, a luminal machine, a tough pill to swallow.

2. Titus Groan, Mervyn Peake - This is the first time I have read it. Wow. I remember that Scott often sung the praises of this and it is really an amazing sustained effort. Paragraphs are scattered though out the book that end finer than anything I’ve ever read. It is an absolutely unique read. Operatic, baroque poetry about the creepy mundane, the doom of responsibility.

3. Maske: Theary, Jack Vance – 1st read, I’ve read enough Vance now to see how almost all of his books are the same. This is not a criticism or a point against in my opinion because I like how all of main characters talk to each other. I also like how there’s hardly ever aliens or monsters in his stories – makes them stand out more when they are present (Dragonmasters, some of Magnus Ridolph… how very few monsters are to be found in the Dying Earth? I can think of a few only, even considering Sandestins seems a stretch - they just as much a-holes as every other character there...)

Sometimes after reading Lem I just can't imagine reading anything else. Golem's like that, the first time I read it I felt shocked. I still don't think I have the right words to express it. The first part of the book is frenetic whimsy, hilarious. I do not want to say anything spoiler-ish about this book, to not color anyone's particular reading of it - it is certainly on the short-list of must-read Lem - so do it!

I took a long time reading Titus Groan. I think I started it in February. Ordered a copy of the second book of the trilogy (! this stuff is dense!), but the book smells horrible. I can't open it and put my nose near it enough to read with out the grossness getting to me. Note to world of book sellers on the Internet at large: if your book stinks like rot, don't sell it to me (or at least tell me in advance. I suppose a stench attendant of Culte des Ghouls might be a selling point).


E.G.Palmer said...

I've got Gormenghast somewhere, but I can't find it at the moment. Is Titus Groan a part of that, or a follow up? I remember the mental images of locations and the atmospheric feel of the book more than the plot.

E.G.Palmer said...

Also, Dioes, awesome.

Ragnorakk said...

Titus Groan is the first book, Gormenghast the second, AND there is a third. I can remember the story, but it's funny how the story became very much a secondary consideration for me while reading it, like it was there just as an infrastructure to hang this amazing language all over.
I did like the story, but I can't shake the feeling that the book could have been about anything and I would have been blown away by it because of the way it was written. Kinda like there is (supposedly ;) a story beneath Ulysses or At-Swim Two Birds or Naked Lunch.

Scott said...

Good to see you're enjoying Peake. The first two Gormenghast books can stand with anything in the genre.