27 June 2007


I read much like I write, which is on a one-book-at-a-time basis. I can really only get my head around one plotline at a time. Perhaps it's because I'm not visual like the rest of the world. I think conceptually. I write conceptually. I read conceptually as well. No film playing in my head as I'm turning the pages, alas. (Actually, I was most surprised to find that others could do this. And that old chestnut given to nervous public speakers -- the one about picturing your audience as naked -- I didn't know whether to be amused or horrified when I realised other people actually *could* do this. There you go.)

Anyway, I was quite surprised to realise this week that I have five books on the go at once. Four novels and one nonfic book.

The nonfic book is The greatest SF movies never made, which is one of those books you can just dip in and out of. Each chapter is about a different movie that almost got made. (Though it seems to me that some of them did in the end, but perhaps became a different movie than what they would have otherwise been.)

Then I am still reading Alfred Bester's The stars, my destination. Now the fact that I haven't finished this when I was clearly reading this weeks and weeks ago might suggest I'm not interested to see what happens, but that would be wrong. I put it aside a bit unwillingly because we were getting into the heavy marking period of the semester. Suddenly, I'm inundated with student manuscripts, and something has to go. My writing suffers too, but I have been trying to at least write something every week. Better to keep the cogs oiled. Even so, I've found I've come out of my story because I haven't been writing every day. Writing really should be an everyday event, and do I ever know it. It's particularly hard when wrestling with a large plot and cast of characters, as I'm dealing with, because I forget all the intricacies, and then it becomes time consuming (but very enjoyable) to go through it all again.

Still reading Andre Dubus III's House of sand and fog, for the third time. Would have finished this already, but I want to read it with my class, bit by bit, so the nuances that I want to talk about are fresh in my mind. Oh, it really is a book to sink into and luxuriate in. The voices are just so wonderful.

Then I've just started Grace Dugan's The silver road. After all, I have to be reading a fantasy book! I'm loving the richness of the detail in this one, enjoying the characters and the slow build up of tension, and looking forward to reading more. Nice internal design -- not that this matters to me, but I have noticed it in passing.

Almost at the same time I started Ian Irvine's new YA series Runcible Jones: the gate to nowhere. Normally, I wouldn't do this, but I went out and had some time to kill and had this book in my bag. This is fast-paced and has me really turning the pages to find out what's going to happen next. As a side note, it's an interesting size: the width of a trade paperback, but much shorter. I like the size. It's nice in the hand.

So all up: one nonfic, one science fiction, one literary, two fantasy (one of which is YA). Not counting the nonfic book, two American writers, one contemporary, one not, and two contemporary Australian writers. A good mix, overall. My quandary is going to be which one to pick up next, but perhaps that will be determined by my mood at the time. Dugan's and Irvine's books are prime examples of satisfying different reading needs: the fast-paced page-turner that will give you a real ride versus the slower, more evocative work. Both great reads, but at some times I'll feel more like one kind of book, and at others another type. Doesn't mean I won't enjoy both, as I'm sure I will.

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