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Re: [mythsoc] Paul Park -- and Keith Donohue

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  • David Emerson
    ... The style may not be padded, but the plot sure is. Page after page passes without any advancement in action or character development. Park s prose may be
    Message 1 of 12 , Sep 26, 2006
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      >Park's writing is economical but very precise: he has a good sense of the _mot juste_. The style manages to
      > be
      >concise and rich at the same time (no *padding* there at all, unlike most commercial fantasy).
      > And careful use of language, of course, enhances characterisation
      >and plot.

      The style may not be padded, but the plot sure is. Page after page passes without any advancement in action or character development.

      Park's prose may be precise and economical, but I find it merely serviceable, and hardly rich. Consider this randomly-chosen excerpt from A PRINCESS IN ROUMANIA:

      "Captain Raevsky and his men had spent the night on the hill, waiting in the bitter cold. They'd tried a different place on every night. Plans that had been vague even in Bucharest were insufficient now, and if it weren't for the presence of the house, he might not have known for sure that he was even in the right locality. His men had taken shifts and been out every day and night. It was too much to expect that they should find the right clearing, and for a week now he'd been convinced he was on a wild donkey chase, until he'd heard the boy screaming. Even then the echoes had confused him, and he wasn't expecting a boy's voice -- just a girl's. Now they were paying for his stupidity."

      Perfectly adequate narration, but nothing special. And marred by the triteness of "paying for his stupidity" and the jarring substitution of "wild donkey chase" for "wild goose chase", as if he were trying to convince us Raevsky is from a different world because he knows he's not getting that point across any other way.

      Now compare the preceding with the following excerpt from the next novel I picked up, Keith Donohue's THE STOLEN CHILD:

      "As the nights lengthened and grew colder, we exchanged our grass mats and solitary beds for a heap of animal skins and stolen blankets. The twelve of us slept together in a tangled clump. I rather enjoyed the comfort of the situation, although most of my friends had foul breath or fetid odors about them. Part of the reason must be the change in diet, from the bounty of summer to the decay of late fall and the deprivation of winter. Several of the poor creatures had been in the woods for so long that they had given up all hope of human society."

      Similar in that it's a passage without much action, mostly description, and talking about people out in the cold forest. But Donohue's phrasing sings where Park's plods. And I deliberately chose one of the least poetic passages I have come across so far, of which there are many (and I'm only on chapter 5). Here's a different passage that particularly impressed me:

      "Mr. Martin may not have been a fairy, but he was very fey. Tall and thin, his white hair long in a shaggy boy's cut, he wore a worn plum-colored suit. Christopher Robin all grown up and gone to genteel seed. Behind him stood the most beautiful machine I had ever seen. Lacquered to a high black finish, the grand piano drew all of the vitality of the room toward its propped-open lid. Those keys held in their serenity the possibility of every beautiful sound."

      The images explode into the brain. He makes a piano seem alive, and a person seem like a myth. Donohue is someone I would refer to as a major stylist.

      emerdavid

      ________________________________________
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    • David Bratman
      ... This is something I ve noticed a lot in run-of-the-mill fantasy and SF novels. About a third or a half of the way through, the action comes to a halt and
      Message 2 of 12 , Sep 26, 2006
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        At 11:30 PM 9/26/2006 -0400, David Emerson wrote:

        >The style may not be padded, but the plot sure is. Page after page passes
        >without any advancement in action or character development.

        This is something I've noticed a lot in run-of-the-mill fantasy and SF
        novels. About a third or a half of the way through, the action comes to a
        halt and the characters sit around for endless chapters twiddling their
        thumbs, waiting for the rest of the plot to show up. When it does, it's
        all in a rush at the end of the book.


        >Park's prose may be precise and economical, but I find it merely
        >serviceable, and hardly rich. Consider this randomly-chosen excerpt from A
        >PRINCESS IN ROUMANIA:
        >
        >"Captain Raevsky and his men had spent the night on the hill, waiting in the
        >bitter cold. They'd tried a different place on every night. Plans that had
        >been vague even in Bucharest were insufficient now, and if it weren't for
        >the presence of the house, he might not have known for sure that he was even
        >in the right locality. His men had taken shifts and been out every day and
        >night. It was too much to expect that they should find the right clearing,
        >and for a week now he'd been convinced he was on a wild donkey chase, until
        >he'd heard the boy screaming. Even then the echoes had confused him, and he
        >wasn't expecting a boy's voice -- just a girl's. Now they were paying for
        >his stupidity."
        >
        >Perfectly adequate narration, but nothing special. And marred by the
        >triteness of "paying for his stupidity" and the jarring substitution of
        >"wild donkey chase" for "wild goose chase", as if he were trying to convince
        >us Raevsky is from a different world because he knows he's not getting that
        >point across any other way.

        My first question, which more context might render unnecessary, is, whose
        stupidity? Raevsky's or the boy's?


        >Now compare the preceding with the following excerpt from the next novel I
        >picked up, Keith Donohue's THE STOLEN CHILD:
        >
        >"As the nights lengthened and grew colder, we exchanged our grass mats and
        >solitary beds for a heap of animal skins and stolen blankets. The twelve of
        >us slept together in a tangled clump. I rather enjoyed the comfort of the
        >situation, although most of my friends had foul breath or fetid odors about
        >them. Part of the reason must be the change in diet, from the bounty of
        >summer to the decay of late fall and the deprivation of winter. Several of
        >the poor creatures had been in the woods for so long that they had given up
        >all hope of human society."
        >
        >Similar in that it's a passage without much action, mostly description, and
        >talking about people out in the cold forest. But Donohue's phrasing sings
        >where Park's plods.

        That is certainly readable, but the change in tense in the fourth sentence
        is a bit of a clang.


        >And I deliberately chose one of the least poetic passages I have come across
        >so far, of which there are many (and I'm only on chapter 5). Here's a
        >different passage that particularly impressed me:
        >
        >"Mr. Martin may not have been a fairy, but he was very fey. Tall and thin,
        >his white hair long in a shaggy boy's cut, he wore a worn plum-colored suit.
        >Christopher Robin all grown up and gone to genteel seed. Behind him stood
        >the most beautiful machine I had ever seen. Lacquered to a high black
        >finish, the grand piano drew all of the vitality of the room toward its
        >propped-open lid. Those keys held in their serenity the possibility of every
        >beautiful sound."
        >
        >The images explode into the brain. He makes a piano seem alive, and a person
        >seem like a myth. Donohue is someone I would refer to as a major stylist.

        I like the first and last sentences very much indeed, and the second
        matches the first for imagery. Except that "wore a worn" does not read
        aloud well, a lack I do not find desirable in major stylists. I've seen
        photos of Christopher Robin all grown up, and he was indeed tall(ish) and
        thin and gone to genteel seed, so that line produces about as firm a mental
        image as you're going to get. I'm not sure what I think of describing a
        piano with the word "machine" before you know it's a piano. My default
        image of "machine" is made of metal and covered with grease. A sudden
        shift follows for me there.

        DB
      • Berni Phillips
        From: David Emerson ... That certainly sounds like something I would enjoy reading! Berni
        Message 3 of 12 , Sep 27, 2006
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          From: "David Emerson" <emerdavid@...>
          :
          >
          > Now compare the preceding with the following excerpt from the next novel I
          > picked up, Keith Donohue's THE STOLEN CHILD:
          >
          > Similar in that it's a passage without much action, mostly description,
          > and talking about people out in the cold forest. But Donohue's phrasing
          > sings where Park's plods. And I deliberately chose one of the least
          > poetic passages I have come across so far, of which there are many (and
          > I'm only on chapter 5). Here's a different passage that particularly
          > impressed me:
          >
          > "Mr. Martin may not have been a fairy, but he was very fey. Tall and
          > thin, his white hair long in a shaggy boy's cut, he wore a worn
          > plum-colored suit. Christopher Robin all grown up and gone to genteel
          > seed. Behind him stood the most beautiful machine I had ever seen.
          > Lacquered to a high black finish, the grand piano drew all of the vitality
          > of the room toward its propped-open lid. Those keys held in their
          > serenity the possibility of every beautiful sound."
          >
          > The images explode into the brain. He makes a piano seem alive, and a
          > person seem like a myth. Donohue is someone I would refer to as a major
          > stylist.

          That certainly sounds like something I would enjoy reading!

          Berni
        • jane Bigelow
          I recommend The Stolen Child heartily--though possibly not just before sleep. After all this discussion, I ve got to take a look at A Princess of Roumania for
          Message 4 of 12 , Sep 27, 2006
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            I recommend The Stolen Child heartily--though possibly not just
            before sleep. After all this discussion, I've got to take a look at
            A Princess of Roumania for myself. Anything that draws such
            disparate opinions from this group is worth a try.

            Jane


            At 07:06 PM 9/27/2006, you wrote:

            >From: "David Emerson"
            ><<mailto:emerdavid%40peoplepc.com>emerdavid@...>
            >:
            > >
            > > Now compare the preceding with the following excerpt from the next novel I
            > > picked up, Keith Donohue's THE STOLEN CHILD:
            > >
            > > Similar in that it's a passage without much action, mostly description,
            > > and talking about people out in the cold forest. But Donohue's phrasing
            > > sings where Park's plods. And I deliberately chose one of the least
            > > poetic passages I have come across so far, of which there are many (and
            > > I'm only on chapter 5). Here's a different passage that particularly
            > > impressed me:
            > >
            > > "Mr. Martin may not have been a fairy, but he was very fey. Tall and
            > > thin, his white hair long in a shaggy boy's cut, he wore a worn
            > > plum-colored suit. Christopher Robin all grown up and gone to genteel
            > > seed. Behind him stood the most beautiful machine I had ever seen.
            > > Lacquered to a high black finish, the grand piano drew all of the vitality
            > > of the room toward its propped-open lid. Those keys held in their
            > > serenity the possibility of every beautiful sound."
            > >
            > > The images explode into the brain. He makes a piano seem alive, and a
            > > person seem like a myth. Donohue is someone I would refer to as a major
            > > stylist.
            >
            >That certainly sounds like something I would enjoy reading!
            >
            >Berni
            >
            >
          • John D Rateliff
            Interesting--a few days ago I received a v. nice postcard advertising the forthcoming release of Diana Pavlac Glyer s long-awaited book on the Inklings as a
            Message 5 of 12 , Oct 5, 2006
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              Interesting--a few days ago I received a v. nice postcard advertising
              the forthcoming release of Diana Pavlac Glyer's long-awaited book on
              the Inklings as a writers' group. Has anyone else received one of
              these? I'd already pre-ordered, but wondered if this was now a
              standard practice and if so which list I'd gotten on: mythsoc, Beyond
              Bree, amazon, or other.
              More bizarrely, amazon.co.uk sent me e-mail messages suggesting
              someone with my interests might want to pre-order Wayne & Christina's
              new book(s). This is only odd because I DO have them pre-ordered, and
              from amazon.co.uk. Does the left hand not know what the right hand is
              doing, or what?
              Most amusingly of all, yesterday I preordered the new HURIN book
              and the website helpfully suggested that if I liked that I might want
              to check out a little something called THE HISTORY OF THE HOBBIT . . .

              --JDR


              "This extraordinary chalk figure . . . was carved into the turf about
              3000 years ago . . . What exactly it is supposed to represent remains
              anyone's guess. The most accepted legend claims that King Alfred cut
              the figure to celebrate his victory over the Danes . . . in 871." --
              Lonely Planet guide: ENGLAND, chronologically challenged entry on The
              White Horse of Uffington (page 402).
            • David Emerson
              ... She was passing them out at Mythcon this year. She read an out-take from the book as a paper, and it was well-received. I am very much looking forward to
              Message 6 of 12 , Oct 6, 2006
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                >Interesting--a few days ago I received a v. nice postcard advertising
                >the forthcoming release of Diana Pavlac Glyer's long-awaited book on
                >the Inklings as a writers' group. Has anyone else received one of
                >these?

                She was passing them out at Mythcon this year. She read an out-take from the book as a paper, and it was well-received. I am very much looking forward to the book.



                >"This extraordinary chalk figure . . . was carved into the turf about
                >3000 years ago . . . What exactly it is supposed to represent remains
                >anyone's guess. The most accepted legend claims that King Alfred cut
                >the figure to celebrate his victory over the Danes . . . in 871." --
                >Lonely Planet guide: ENGLAND, chronologically challenged entry on The
                >White Horse of Uffington (page 402).

                Reminiscent of the ONION article about "Wikipedia celebrates 500th anniversary of Declaration of Independence." ;-)

                emerdavid

                ________________________________________
                PeoplePC Online
                A better way to Internet
                http://www.peoplepc.com
              • Joan.Marie.Verba@sff.net
                ... From: John D Rateliff Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2006 21:39:15 -0700 ... I got a postcard, also, and the form of the address tells me it came
                Message 7 of 12 , Oct 6, 2006
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                  --- Original Message ---
                  From: John D Rateliff <sacnoth@...>
                  Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2006 21:39:15 -0700

                  > Interesting--a few days ago I received a v. nice postcard advertising
                  > the forthcoming release of Diana Pavlac Glyer's long-awaited book on
                  > the Inklings as a writers' group. Has anyone else received one of
                  > these? I'd already pre-ordered, but wondered if this was now a
                  > standard practice and if so which list I'd gotten on: mythsoc, Beyond
                  > Bree, amazon, or other.

                  I got a postcard, also, and the form of the address tells me it came from
                  Mything Persons.

                  When I was a Steward, there was a discussion about people using the Mythopoeic
                  Society's directory as a mailing list. The consensus was that we could not
                  prevent any party from taking Mything Persons, copying the addresses there,
                  and sending a mailing, which is what seems to have been done in this case.

                  Joan
                  Friendly Neighborhood Mythsoc List Administrator
                • Lynn Maudlin
                  Diana Glyer s excellent book, THE COMPANY THEY KEEP, has been chosen as part of the YBP s Core 1000 (second quarter 2007). Libraries are no doubt familiar with
                  Message 8 of 12 , Sep 11, 2007
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                    Diana Glyer's excellent book, THE COMPANY THEY KEEP, has been chosen
                    as part of the YBP's Core 1000 (second quarter 2007). Libraries are no
                    doubt familiar with the Yankee Book Peddlers but, for those of us who
                    are not:

                    "YBP Library Services is pleased to make available the YBP CORE 1000.
                    YBP has developed, designed and implemented this service to aid
                    academic libraries in assessing current collections and to allow
                    smaller academic libraries the opportunity to benefit from
                    participation with a seasoned vendor in collection development.

                    "Each quarter year YBP will release a segment of the Core 1000 list
                    that will include 250 titles. The Profiling Bibliographers at YBP
                    select these titles for inclusion on the list. The selection process
                    is complex. The profiling unit, which describes each title
                    book-in-hand, will maintain lists of titles each quarter within the
                    subject matter specialty assigned to that Profiler. Thereafter, the
                    titles selected are carefully screened to identify major titles that
                    will stand the test of time and be expected to be contained within
                    good collections. The four quarterly lists of 250 titles will be
                    combined in February and form the Core 1000 for that year.

                    "Each year over 50,000 new titles are published that have relevance to
                    the academic market. The YBP Core 1000 list is a valuable tool in
                    assuring that essential titles are added to the collections. The
                    skill, judgment, knowledge and experience of YBP's profiling
                    bibliographers are the foundation upon which the Core 1000 is built.
                    Thus, the intellectual honesty in describing titles, a proud YBP
                    hallmark, will remain and neither publishers nor trends will influence
                    the selection of titles for the benefit of academic libraries."
                    http://www.ybp.com/acad/Core1000Cover.htm

                    This is an excellent book - y'all should read it!
                    -- Lynn --
                  • John D Rateliff
                    Excellent news! Congratulations to Diana (and also to David, Who Helped). --JDR
                    Message 9 of 12 , Sep 11, 2007
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                      Excellent news! Congratulations to Diana (and also to David, Who
                      Helped).
                      --JDR


                      On Sep 11, 2007, at 2:52 PM, Lynn Maudlin wrote:
                      > Diana Glyer's excellent book, THE COMPANY THEY KEEP, has been chosen
                      > as part of the YBP's Core 1000 (second quarter 2007). Libraries are no
                      > doubt familiar with the Yankee Book Peddlers but, for those of us who
                      > are not:
                      >
                      > "YBP Library Services is pleased to make available the YBP CORE 1000.
                      > YBP has developed, designed and implemented this service to aid
                      > academic libraries in assessing current collections and to allow
                      > smaller academic libraries the opportunity to benefit from
                      > participation with a seasoned vendor in collection development.
                      >
                      > "Each quarter year YBP will release a segment of the Core 1000 list
                      > that will include 250 titles. The Profiling Bibliographers at YBP
                      > select these titles for inclusion on the list. The selection process
                      > is complex. The profiling unit, which describes each title
                      > book-in-hand, will maintain lists of titles each quarter within the
                      > subject matter specialty assigned to that Profiler. Thereafter, the
                      > titles selected are carefully screened to identify major titles that
                      > will stand the test of time and be expected to be contained within
                      > good collections. The four quarterly lists of 250 titles will be
                      > combined in February and form the Core 1000 for that year.
                      >
                      > "Each year over 50,000 new titles are published that have relevance to
                      > the academic market. The YBP Core 1000 list is a valuable tool in
                      > assuring that essential titles are added to the collections. The
                      > skill, judgment, knowledge and experience of YBP's profiling
                      > bibliographers are the foundation upon which the Core 1000 is built.
                      > Thus, the intellectual honesty in describing titles, a proud YBP
                      > hallmark, will remain and neither publishers nor trends will influence
                      > the selection of titles for the benefit of academic libraries."
                      > http://www.ybp.com/acad/Core1000Cover.htm
                    • Mike Foster
                      Cheers indeed, not to mention kudos as well. Mike ... From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of John D Rateliff Sent:
                      Message 10 of 12 , Sep 11, 2007
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                        Cheers indeed, not to mention kudos as well.

                        Mike

                        -----Original Message-----
                        From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                        Of John D Rateliff
                        Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2007 5:05 PM
                        To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                        Subject: Re: [mythsoc] "The Company They Keep"

                        Excellent news! Congratulations to Diana (and also to David, Who
                        Helped).
                        --JDR

                        On Sep 11, 2007, at 2:52 PM, Lynn Maudlin wrote:
                        > Diana Glyer's excellent book, THE COMPANY THEY KEEP, has been chosen
                        > as part of the YBP's Core 1000 (second quarter 2007). Libraries are no
                        > doubt familiar with the Yankee Book Peddlers but, for those of us who
                        > are not:
                        >
                        > "YBP Library Services is pleased to make available the YBP CORE 1000.
                        > YBP has developed, designed and implemented this service to aid
                        > academic libraries in assessing current collections and to allow
                        > smaller academic libraries the opportunity to benefit from
                        > participation with a seasoned vendor in collection development.
                        >
                        > "Each quarter year YBP will release a segment of the Core 1000 list
                        > that will include 250 titles. The Profiling Bibliographers at YBP
                        > select these titles for inclusion on the list. The selection process
                        > is complex. The profiling unit, which describes each title
                        > book-in-hand, will maintain lists of titles each quarter within the
                        > subject matter specialty assigned to that Profiler. Thereafter, the
                        > titles selected are carefully screened to identify major titles that
                        > will stand the test of time and be expected to be contained within
                        > good collections. The four quarterly lists of 250 titles will be
                        > combined in February and form the Core 1000 for that year.
                        >
                        > "Each year over 50,000 new titles are published that have relevance to
                        > the academic market. The YBP Core 1000 list is a valuable tool in
                        > assuring that essential titles are added to the collections. The
                        > skill, judgment, knowledge and experience of YBP's profiling
                        > bibliographers are the foundation upon which the Core 1000 is built.
                        > Thus, the intellectual honesty in describing titles, a proud YBP
                        > hallmark, will remain and neither publishers nor trends will influence
                        > the selection of titles for the benefit of academic libraries."
                        > http://www.ybp <http://www.ybp.com/acad/Core1000Cover.htm>
                        com/acad/Core1000Cover.htm



                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Doug Kane
                        Congratulations to Diana! That s definitely wonderful news. [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        Message 11 of 12 , Sep 11, 2007
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                          Congratulations to Diana! That's definitely wonderful news.


                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • David Emerson
                          Yay, Diana!!!! ... emerdavid ________________________________________ PeoplePC Online A better way to Internet http://www.peoplepc.com
                          Message 12 of 12 , Sep 12, 2007
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                            Yay, Diana!!!!

                            -----Original Message-----
                            >From: Lynn Maudlin <lynnmaudlin@...>
                            >Sent: Sep 11, 2007 4:52 PM
                            >To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                            >Subject: [mythsoc] "The Company They Keep"
                            >
                            >Diana Glyer's excellent book, THE COMPANY THEY KEEP, has been chosen
                            >as part of the YBP's Core 1000 (second quarter 2007).

                            emerdavid

                            ________________________________________
                            PeoplePC Online
                            A better way to Internet
                            http://www.peoplepc.com
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