18 May 2008

Sunday Salon #9 - 18 May 2008

Why a rain gauge?
Well, it's been raining overnight here in this driest state in the driest continent, and we've been promised more. So this is what we caught in our backyard overnight, which was quite a lot.

This week I've been reading Reginald Hill's A CURE FOR ALL DISEASES all week. It is unusual for me to spend a whole week on a book. Admittedly it is pretty long - 532 pages - but I'm not reading many pages in a sitting. Some people find a slow down in reading a bit depressing, but it doesn't really worry me - except that it will result in me getting through less books this month.

So what slows your reading down? Here are some thoughts.
  • plot complexity - that certainly is true for A CURE: lots of strands, lots of detail, you struggle to decide what is important and what is not.
  • changing P.O.V. - this also certainly true - I have identified at least 7 different voices: an email correspondence between a character and her sister; Dalziel's recordings of his thoughts into a portable device; other people's voices on Dalziel's recorder; Peter Pascoe's thoughts; Shirley Novello; Hat Bowler; Wieldy. And there are probably more. Each change of P.O.V. requires the reader to assess the importance of this input and the authority of this voice.
  • book structure - the title A CURE FOR ALL DISEASES is subtitled A NOVEL in six volumes. And then each "volume" comes with its own quotation and the reader has to ingest this, and decide whether it is significant. Is the structure important or is it just the author organising himself?
    And what is the dedication to "Janeites everywhere" on the opening page of the book all about? And what does the title mean? (I think I know that one, so that's really just a rhetorical question)
  • characters and the power play between them. The balance of the Dalziel & Pascoe team has been upset by the fact that Dalziel is supposed to be convalescing from being blown up in THE DEATH OF DALZIEL, and Pascoe is meant to be running the new investigation. But Fat Andy is finding ways to breathe down his neck. And there there is the by-play between the underlings in their team each jockeying for position in a possible new team structure.
  • red herrings and the difficulties of identifying them.
Phew! No wonder it is taking me a while read. My brain is running hot just thinking about all that.

The rest of the week: the postings
  • I really didn't do anything with The Weekly Geeks this week. It was about books I read in my childhood. Too much I thought! Childhood was over 4, and depending on your definition of childhood, even 5, decades ago. Besides I grew up on a diet of Enid Blyton, 19th century classics, every book in the school library, every book in the town library, School Friend, Girl's Crystal, Arthur Mee's Encyclopaedia, Phantom Comics etc etc.. All books were hard covers and quite expensive, on coarse paper, and with grottily small printing.
    For all that my evolution into almost solely reading crime fiction has been easily traceable for the last 30 years. Since 1975 I have been keeping a written record of authors and titles that I have read, so I can see the journey I've travelled. For the last 40 months I have been keeping mini-reviews in a database on my computer.
  • I decided to remove the list of labels that I used to have running at the foot of my blog because I realised that every time Google "scraped" my page it was also scraping those labels. That meant people were coming to my pages as a result of the Google search because it had picked up a label. If you want to find something now, and can't find it in my permanent list at the side, you'll just have to use the Search box at the top.


Literary Feline said...

I can relate to the reasons you list for a reading slowdown. I think too, for me at least, the writing itself can make a difference.

I hope you have a good week.

Anonymous said...

Reading? I seem to be taking YEARS to finish The Blind Assassin. Mind you, I like Atwood!


Kerrie said...

I agree also that the writing can make a difference. Some people are just easy to read aren't they? With some writers it is almost just like picking up the threads of an old acquaintance, while with others, the relationship feels a bit strained.

For me too, reading more than one book at once just doesn't work.

With writers like Margaret Atwood you feel like you need to pay careful attention because you don't want to miss anything.

I have 100 pages to go in A CURE FOR..

Anonymous said...

One of the things that many of Reginald Hill's 'Dalziel and Pascoe' books have in common is a relationship with a particular author or book from classical literature. If you read 'A Cure for all Diseases' carefully you will see that not only are there links to Austen's works, but also a good many references to 'Twelfth Night'. Hill does this all the time. 'Arms and the Woman', for example, is linked throughout to the Odyssey. If you want his real Austen novel read 'Pictures of Perfection' Jane's country village alive and well and to be found in Yorkshire.

John (@bookdreamer) said...

Useful list. I would also add the complexity of the language used and the ideas being explored in the narrative. But in the hands of a good writer these and the complexity of plots and POV make usually make a book zip along. See the The Sot-weed Factor or the Tidewater Tales by John Barth as examples.

Looked up the weekly geeks and would have posted the logo but none of them worked for me. I did like the idea of posting links to other blog reviews so now that I know how to do a hyperlink I will also be doing that

Fay Sheco said...

Density slows me down, and you've covered several forms that can take: plot, structure. Density either slows me down or I put the book down, if it's dense as in dull.

Then there is love of the language. If the book is beautifully written, I tend to slow down to sink into the words. This type of book is the opposite of a page-turner. I like both.

Megan said...

It has taken me ages to read through Saint Maybe. Part of the reason is that each chapter is written from a different point of view and it takes me about a half a chapter to get into the new voice and it seems like once I am settled we are moving onto a new one, or an old one, but one I don't remember either way.

I do like to read slow when a book is beautiful and I often read two books at once for this reason, one that is a slow read and one that I can race through. I can't always manage to get into anything too wordy when the kids are around.

Kerrie said...

Thanks for the information about the Hill novels, Table Talk. Now you mention it, I can see that.

I had a problem with the weekly geek's logos too John.

Fay, I try to tell myself, when I am reading slowly, that I am savouring it.

Megan, it takes a while to get used to the POV changes doesn't it?

Kerrie said...

Hello Table Talk
Thanks for the pointers with Jane Austen.
My review might interest you

I didn't see the links to Twelfth Night though


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