Before I dig into what I’ve been up to this week, I’d like to give a quick shoutout to Summer Games Done Quick. I’ve mentioned GDQ on here before, but to rehash: they’re a charity which does two videogame marathons each year to fundraise for a selected charity. This marathon’s donating to Doctors Without Borders. If you (like me) enjoy watching people beat games way faster than they have any right to, I really recommend checking it out. Even if you’re not donating, the more viewers they have adds more revenue going to charity. It’s a great everyone-wins scenario.
My intended focus this past week was to get some reading done, and decompress from spending a long time in the revision hole. I feel I’ve accomplished that.
First, I finished Moby-Dick. I really enjoyed this book, but the ways in which I enjoyed it are the ways in which I’m a bit iconoclastic. I found Moby-Dick to be a very intentionally textured novel, with many trailing sentences and passages, intentional archaisms (even for the period), and overall a sort of very lush, floating prose. Much like the seas the novel takes place on, it reads in this rolling, turning sort of way. Melville’s prose is dense, and his paragraphs generally long–much like Eddison, who I love, Melville’s characters also engage in monologue and soliloquy and speak to one another as though they were on stage–yet his chapters are usually very short, so that as a whole the piece read rather quickly.
I don’t know that I can recommend this book, unless you are, like me, someone who loves lush fat prose and is aspiring to write lush fat books. I liked it, maybe even love it. It’s probably going to take a place next to The Worm Ouroboros and The Hobbit as one of the pieces I turn to when I’m trying to capture a certain feeling or written flavor. But, like most “classics” of literature, I don’t know how well it would go over for any randomly selected reader. You’ve probably got to already have a certain taste trained into you, or developed on your own by accident.
I also read through the (very) long graphic novel Bone this week, on the recommendation of a friend. It’s good. I liked it. I can’t imagine what reading it as separate volumes, over a long period of time, must have been like, but it worked well as one complete book.
Of all the good things in Bone, I think what struck me most was how resonant it felt. The worldbuilding is neither particularly deep nor particularly complex. The narrative focuses comfortably on the three Bones (Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone) and while there is backstory, intrigue, and mythology to the Valley the story is set in, the story doesn’t try to explain everything in perfect detail. It’s okay for it to just keep focusing on the Bones, and their friends.
This resonance that I felt throughout the story has more to do with names than with its worldbuilding. Names like the Lord of Locusts, the House of Mists, Mim the Dragon Queen, and so on add a further feeling of depth and antiquity to a comic which, in art style, often feels more like something out of the daily comics in a newspaper than out of a fantasy saga. These themes feel like they should be dissonant, but they’re not. Jeff Smith, the author, blends the two modes together very well, and does a very good job balancing humor and epic as the tensions and stakes of the story heighten. If you like fantasy stories at all, I highly recommend reading Bone; even if you’re not a huge fan of the comic medium, the story’s lovely enough that I think any fantasy reader would find a lot to appreciate.
Finally, over the last few days I’ve begun re-reading The Fellowship of the Ring. It’s been around two years since I re-read The Lord of the Rings, and I’ve been getting the itch to give the work another once-over, especially as I keep struggling and playing with my own attempted epic. I don’t know if I’ll get through a full re-read of LotR, but I’m planning at least to read through Fellowship, and hope that it’s productive as well as pleasurable.
I did get a little writing work done this week, too. While Jiharel‘s mostly been on my mind, I decided to go back and continue revising my story about thruns. I feel like I’ve got most of the solutions to revising that story figured out, and that now I just need to go through and do them. I don’t know how long that will take, but for this upcoming week I’m planning to keep working on that story.
The week after, I’ll have to return to puzzling over Jiharel.