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Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

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  • Mary Kay
    Note: I get the mythsoc list as a daily digest, i.e. all the posts in one big email. I have clipped out several things from various people to respond to.
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 8, 2005
      Note: I get the mythsoc list as a daily digest, i.e. all the posts in
      one big email. I have clipped out several things from various people to
      respond to. (Note that I HAVE clipped out all extraneous matter -- as I
      once again iterate my plea for people to trim their damn replies. Not
      everyone has broadband and even those of us who do don't always. Do you
      have any idea how long some of this stuff takes to download over dialup?
      Only leave in what is necessary to indicate what you are responding
      to. Doing otherwise is rude to people who have to download over phone
      lines. And maybe have to pay for that time. Says the woman who just
      spent 3 weeks in hotels. With lousy access.)

      > Subject: Re: Jonathan Strange & Narnia
      >
      > Interesting to find such opposite reviews so far. I, too, got it after
      > strong reviews, but it's been a slow start. I have heard it gains steam as
      > it goes, but I have had to put it down for other things and haven't gotten
      > back to it yet.

      It is a slow start yes, but so is LOTR. I find what Clarke has done not
      entirely dissimilar to what Tolkien did. She creates a world both like
      and unlike our own and plunges us into its cares and concerns. I found
      it was best to read in installments of no less than 100 pages -- it's
      another world and mindset and they take time to get in to. Once I did
      however, I found the book read quite fast. I got interrupted halfway
      through by the election and its aftermath -- which in my case included a
      deep depression. Once I was functional enough to read again I jumped
      back in and finished it in no time. I thought it a beautiful and
      interesting and exciting book.

      > Footnotes are ok, but not three page long ones! If it's that long, it should be
      > part of the narrative. I drove me nuts that have the story was in the footnotes. On
      > the other hand, Jasper fforde got it right in his Thursday Next series with the short and
      > entertaining 'footernotes'.

      What's wrong with 3 page footnotes. Yes, they interrupt the narrative
      flow -- and I think that's just what the author intended. Really, you
      know, there's very little narrative flow in life as she as lived and
      while the imposition of that on seemingly incontrollable events may be
      one of the things we read fiction for, we ought never to forget that it
      isn't true. You know, lots of people had trouble with all the poetry
      and songs included in LOTR. It slows down the narrative flow for sure
      but the book would much poorer without them.
      >
      >
      >>I found the treatment of both magic and Faerie in the book to be
      >>intensely interesting.

      Indeed, I wish it hadn't been so obliquely treated in some ways. I'd
      like to know a lot more about John Uskglass.
      >

      >
      > I made it through to the end. It is way too long -- I would have cut
      > several hundred pages. She could have made several short stories out of the
      > footnotes alone. It says in the author bio section that she started it in
      > 1992 or some time like that. I believe that, and believe that she worked on
      > it continuously from that time!
      >
      > I predict that it will definitely be a finalist for the MFA. It's good (if
      > overlong), it's original, it's mythopoeic. It just needs severe pruning.

      Well, I certainly nominated it. See my comments above about the length
      and inclusions.

      > Doing reviewing, I've become rather fussy. Ifa book doesn't grab fairly fast, I
      > toss it aside. Pullman was also an author I gave up on quite fast. His theological
      > bent wasn't the problem -- his writing style was.

      So if you had never before encountered Tolkien, do you think your
      reviewing inspired fussiness would have prevented you from appreciating
      him -- talk about your slow starts...
    • Margaret Dean
      ... So would I but, OTOH, in a way I think that s part of the point. That more (or more factual) knowledge of him would be beside the point. Or something.
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 8, 2005
        Mary Kay wrote:

        > >>I found the treatment of both magic and Faerie in the book to be
        > >>intensely interesting.
        >
        > Indeed, I wish it hadn't been so obliquely treated in some ways. I'd
        > like to know a lot more about John Uskglass.

        So would I but, OTOH, in a way I think that's part of the point.
        That more (or more factual) knowledge of him would be beside the
        point. Or something. Like those very faint stars that you can
        only see clearly if you don't look at them straight on.

        Am I making any sense at all?


        --Margaret Dean
        <margdean@...>
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