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A little tea, a little chat

I've been a compulsive reader, writer and theatre goer all my life. My book blog is here: http://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpress.com/ Mostly food at the moment but also knitting is here: http://cathyingeneva.wordpress.com/

Currently reading

Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism
Sheldon S. Wolin
The Temptation of Saint Anthony
Gustave Flaubert
Nebula Award Stories 3
Harlan Ellison, Gary Wright, Samuel R. Delany, Michael Moorcock, Fritz Leiber, Roger Zelazny, J.G. Ballard, Anne McCaffrey
Cosmology and Controversy: The Historical Development of Two Theories of the Universe
Helge Kragh
Max Frisch
Northern Lights  - Philip Pullman Later....A friend said to me today that if you read this book properly, it should make you a better person. I'd just earlier in the day been thinking pretty much the same thing. When I asked S. in what way was he made better, he said he couldn't say, just that it had. Exactly. I think you have a sense as you read this book that Lyra's goodness has rubbed off on you, she's made you better in an entirely non-specific way.

M. then said that she didn't think a book, to be special, necessarily had to have a moral impact, it could give you other terribly important things. For her to read the first Harry Potter was to be given back magic. And yes, an author, if he can return to you something you had lost and not even realised you had, has done something equally to be treasured.

I have promised to read HP soon. I find it difficult to believe I'm going to get anything out of it, but, then, thus had I felt about Northern Lights.


9.30 last night. I’m lying in bed, I’ve been reading this for a couple of hours, thinking I’m going to get it finished before I fall asleep. SMS: ‘Won by 3, be at the pub in ten minutes.’ And I’m so torn. I even think about bringing the book with me. In the end I go to the pub, get drunk, maybe came close to lucky, oh, but imagine the morning...having to play bridge at 9am on a Sunday on account of the time difference between the US and Australia. I didn’t see how it would work. He’d snuggle up and start saying how great the third time we fucked was, and I’d be like – is this Dave? Or Biff? Surely if I’d shagged somebody called Biff last night the name would stick, wouldn’t it? I’m not going to guess, I routinely fail 50%ers, so – sorry, mate (an Australianism will do here) but if you could find your way out, I have to play bridge in ten minutes. What’s that? This is YOUR place? I open my eyes more and take a better look around. Bugger. I have to play bridge in ten minutes and I don’t even know where I am.

So, I’m half way through my second vodka, completely drunk already, somebody’s saying I have a nice firm bosom – I don’t think it was Dave OR Biff – and I’m wishing, after all, I’d brought my book with me. I don’t really want to get lucky, I want to read my book.

And even though I haven’t finished it, I wanted to get something about it down.

I really didn’t want to read this. It’s fantasy, it has made-up words, it is a trilogy – WHY!!!!! Why can’t somebody write a fantasy book that stops at a decent time???? There is an explanation of how to pronounce ‘daemon’ before the book even starts and that’s enough to make my heart sink. So why am I reading it? Because I’ve been backed into a corner by a friend and I can’t figure out another way of getting out. Here it is then. A grumpy person reading a type of book they don’t want to read and are opening it up for all the wrong reasons.

And then…straight away, within a page or two: what a heart-thumper, what a brilliant unputdownable ripsnorter. Impossible not to compare with Larsson’s books, and comes out so far ahead on all counts I don’t know if I’ll be able to read the last Girl-Tattoo book after all.

This guy writes well, Larsson doesn’t. He has a plot that is worthy of the name for the entire book. When I wanted to stop reading the first Larsson after 140 pages and was told that it got good soon, well, honestly, I stuck with it and the advice was correct, but still. That’s a lot of wasted pages.

Larsson’s female character is a pastiche of current fashion:

(1) Anti-social
(2) Metal in odd places
(3) Punk rocker
(4) Shags girls, heterosexual male fantasy
(5) Shags much old men, ditto
(6) Boob job
(7) Computer whizz

Larsson gets away with this, even though this amalgam feels fake. Lyra needs nothing. She is just a girl with nothing special about her at all and she is fabulous. Already I’m wondering if this series is going to get spoiled by her growing up and sex coming into play. One of the things this book demonstrates is how utterly irrelevant and tedious the sex is in books like Larsson’s. It is just there to titillate, it has no intrinsic purpose whatsoever.

I’m gobsmacked by how much more believable this book is than Larsson’s. Daemons, talking bears, witches, universes coming out of universes – I’m half expecting a string theorist to pop into the story, but as long as that doesn’t happen I can’t imagine anything could spoil the rest of it. I’m trying to picture who wouldn’t enjoy this, and I’m coming up with a complete prune of a person. If I enjoy this, honestly, anybody would.

And yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m even going to give the rest of the series a go.


Finished! The last forty pages or so, after the duel of the bears, lost me. Maybe because they weren't really about the story, they are about setting the scene for the next book...I don't know. But I have to say that after 350 pages where every sentence made my heart beat too fast, I feel rather churlish saying that.