September 30, 2014 by lucieromarin
Well. This …er…hiatus is what happens when job-hunting takes over your life, and then, deo gratias, it’s also what happens when you find your new job and realise you have no appropriate clothing for it…and then you get sick!
Third time’s a charm! This blog is about rebuilding your life, so let it be known that it is actually possible to change jobs twice in the one year, in between losing your hair, missing people, and moving home!
Being then-unemployed, I was able to get to the Chancellor’s Committee Book Fair in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney. The first two days of the Fair often mean securing the best books. It also means being squashed flat by hordes of bookworms, bibliophiles, and the occasional owner of a second-hand bookstore. The owner of Gould’s used to turn up every year, plonk himself upon the floor like an immovable gnome, and simply sweep piles of books into boxes without even looking at them. If you hate crowds, it’s worth skipping the first two days, if you can. There is still plenty left, and by the last day, they sell a whole box for five dollars. I nearly melted and fainted at once when I found myself in the language and linguistics sectioin of the fair, and, after much disciplining of self (made easier by the fact that I’d forgotten to bring any bags with me, so could only take what I could carry) came away with ‘The Movement of English Prose’ and ‘The Groundwork of English Stress’ for the princely sum of two dollars. The children’s section yielded me a hardback edition of ‘Bunchy’, which I have never before seen in my entire life, and I wonder if I found something rare and precious and worth thousands of pounds. It is a pity if I did, because I gave it away.
If you are going to write some kind of genre-themed novel, it’s important to know what others have done with that genre and that theme, so you can judge your own according to an objective standard. Recently, I’ve was given ‘The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen,’ which, besides some of the worst dialogue I’ve ever read, contains a mediocre pretend-Austen novel. Now, I don’t think you can blame somone who isn’t Jane Austen for not writing as she did, but you can blame a modern spin-off author for not meeting the standards of other spin-off novels, and, for this, I do blame her.
I was also given something called ‘Station Eleven.’ The mediocrity of the book was a real pity, because there were some good ideas in it. But all I could think as I read was, ‘Does this author know how inadequate this is after ‘The Passage”? And then she referenced The Passage (really clumsily, too), so not only had she read it, she’d read it without realising how inferior her own work was.
If only a courageous editor had been able to do something about this! Those good ideas were worth fighting for!
Meanwhile, the abovementioned Book Fair gave me, for four dollars, Rosemary Sutcliff’s ‘Blood Feud.’ This book is not mediocre. If you’re very devout, you may not want to share it with Christian pre-teens, though it is written for a young market, but I think you should be capable of enjoying it yourself. Where are the wasted words? How is she able to make these ages and these men and these landscapes seem real, and breathing, and worth caring about, even though their lives and thoughts are so different from my own?
How can I learn to do this?
Probably not by stream-of-consciousness blogging!