November 20th, 2015

Dubliners by James Joyce

book 152:  Dubliners by James Joyce

This is a collection of short stories set in late 1800s/early 1900s Dublin, Ireland.  The book seems to be set up like a life, really.  The first stories involve children and adolescents.  The middle stories are about businessmen and mothers.  The latter stories have to do with older people looking back or facing death.  All the stories have a mix of all of life's nuances, though, and Joyce's writing is brilliant and clean and very realistic.  The stories are also very Irish feeling and are almost totally encompassed by the characters.  There is a sense of both love and tragedy in every story, as there is in every life.  I don't think I could sit and read Joyce for long periods of time because his subjects are sometimes heavy to bear, but I really can't think of a single way that I could recommend to improve his writing.  I imagine other's agree, and that is why at least one of his stories is in pretty much every anthology of literature I have ever seen.

Inuyasha Volume 18 by Rumiko Takahashi

book 153:  InuYasha Volume 18 by Rumiko Takahashi

This volume includes the scene that was so painful (because of my own issues with desire to be able to change someone else to fit my dreams and acceptance of reality because that can never happen) that I almost couldn't watch it during the anime.  First the battle of InuYasha and Koga versus Kageromaru and Juromaru ends as expected.  InuYasha expresses jealousy towards Koga, and Kagome punishes him by returning to her own time again.  While she is gone, however, Kikyo confronts Naraku with the fact that in spite of his becoming a demon, he still contains his original human, Onigumo's, heart, which still lusts after her, preventing him from killing her even though she is a threat to him.  To prove Kikyo wrong, Naraku sends a soul-consuming demon after her which draws the borrowed souls from her body leaving her helpless and fleeing for her life to her old home and InuYasha's domain. InuYasha decides that he will never abandon Kikyo, in spite of his feelings for Kagome, and must let Kagome go.  Kagome realizes this, running back to her own time, not knowing how to deal with the pain of not being chosen.  She eventually decides to love him anyway and asks to stay by his side without expectations. The volume ends with the disappearance of Naraku's castle and the reappearance of an apparently memoryless and uncontrolled Kohaku, Sango's little brother.
faeries, masked fae

Book 110: The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Peet

Book 110: The Murdstone Trilogy.
Author: Mal Peet, 2014.
Genre: Fantasy. Publishing. Satire.
Other Details: Hardback. 320 pages.

Philip Murdstone is a writer. He writes subtle YA books about sensitive boys. Subtle books which don’t sell. He does NOT write fantasy. He HATES fantasy - even the faintest whiff of goblins and elves brings him out in hives. But - his agent Minerva Cinch informs him - his career as a writer is kaput if he DOESN’T write fantasy. Luckily for Murdstone, it is at this exact moment that he meets a strange creature from another realm. What could possibly go wrong? - synopsis from UK publisher's website.

As things turned out this was Mal Peet's final book and it is in many ways quite a treat as a satire on the publishing industry as well as the fantasy genre. Yet there was an unevenness to it, which did detract me some.

Having just started reading Diana Gabaldon's Outlander, where standing stones play an important role in setting things in motion, it was interesting that Murdstone's initial experience also takes place when he stumbles into a circle of standing stones. There he has a dream vision of The Realm before going home and encountering the 'greme' Pocket Wellfair, who becomes the narrator of the fantasy trilogy.

It was actually quite a funny book though I felt that as it progressed the author, like his creation, lost his way a little bit. Maybe that was the idea as Murdstone is swept up into the hype of his best-seller as well as having to fend off further incursions of The Realm into everyday reality.

Certainly an unusual and quite unique novel that I did enjoy even though I found Murdstone's passivity and unwillingness to even try to write a fantasy novel somewhat perplexing. I guess that this is because I have long enjoyed fantasy including the Discworld novels of Terry Pratchett that poke fun at the genre. However, I do know people who, like Murdstone, hate with capital letters the genre and refuse to read any fantasy. So maybe they would appreciate Murdstone's dilemma better than I could.