Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur, April 2017
Attention conservation notice: I have no taste.
- Jean d'Ormesson, The Glory of the Empire: A Novel, a History (translated by Barbara Bray)
- This must be one of the strangest and most brilliant of alternate
histories, covering thousands of years in the life of "The Empire", its people
and its rulers. I can only try to convey its effect by means of a figure.
Imagine the real histories of ancient Greece, Rome, Byzantium, the Sassanians,
and many other countries depicted on intricately-decorated ceramic
pots and vessels. Now imagine that d'Ormesson took all those vessels to the
top of a cliff, and, with great ceremony, dropped them to shatter on the rocks below. Then imagine that he assembled some of the shards into
one new vessel, guided by a rather romantic taste. The result is
simultaneously a parody of historiography (the narrator-historian obviously is
very romantic and sentimental, while insisting on his objectivity), a monument
to the author's eccentric erudition (I am sure I missed many references), and
an astonishing work of fiction.
- Ruthanna Emrys, Winter Tide
- Lovecraftian-revisionist mind candy / historical fiction for the US in the
1940s. I am on record intensely admiring Emrys's short
Litany of Earth", to which this novel is a sequel. (The story is included
in the book as an appendix.) Perhaps inevitably, the longer novel does not
pack the same force. Reading it left me with a slight feeling of
disappointment --- it's a bit too meandering, and it came across as a bit more
presentist in its concerns (whereas "Litany" seemed more-of-its-setting). But,
as mind candy, it's still really good, and I will happily pick up any sequel.
- Disclaimer: I've corresponded very slightly with Emrys,
about matters touching on our day jobs.
Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur;
Scientifiction and Fantastica;
Tales of Our Ancestors;
Writing for Antiquity;
Posted at April 30, 2017 23:59 | permanent link