And More Books
(plus a little on Michael Swanwick)
With the exception of journals and perhaps the occasional anthology, I think I’ll impose a ban on my buying for the rest of the year. I have another novel on order but my reading shelf is overflowing.
This time everything was on sale at Planet Books. Thank you, Planet!
Stories of Work
Edited by Richard Ford
To be honest, stories based in the work place aren't something that I avidly seek out. But this collection I couldn't pass up. The list of authors in Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar would magnetise many a reader: Jeffrey Eugenides, John Cheever, Joyce Carol Oates, Tobias Wolff, Richard Ford, Alice Munro, Eudora Weatly, Jhumpa Lahiri, Edward P. Jones, James Alan McPherson, Annie Proulx, Elizabeth Strout and Donald Bathelme are just a few of the many heavyweights here. Believe it or not, the list goes on.
The hype around this novel finally caught up with me.
Stations of the Tide by Michael Swanwick
Swanwick challenges genre conventions and often explores controversial themes. He has been labelled ‘over sexed’ and 'provocative' - and he is. At his best he scintillates; at his worst he can read like a literary version of soft porn.
I’ve read the novel The Iron Dragon’s Daughter, which was inventive and interesting. I liked it and believe that it was an important pioneering work that subverted the usual derivative Tolkienesque elements of high fantasy. While respecting the Iron Dragon’s Daughter, I did not, however, love it like most of the readers I’ve discussed it with. The follow up, Dragons of Babel meandered quite a bit (which I did not mind) and had some captivating parts but overall I felt it was the lesser of the duo.
Contrastingly, Swanwick’s short fiction is more than just good – it is frequently exceptional. He is one of the bravest, freshest and most innovative voices around. At shorter lengths, where his ideas are contained, he has produced some of my favourite stories, which I’ll wax lyrical about another time.
On seeing Stations of the Tide - having recently read and generally enjoyed one of his anthologies: The Dog said Bow-Wow - I thought I’d give his longer length works another try. Plus this one won the Nebula Award.
Why would I read another one of his longer works after not being totally taken by The Dragons of
(especially when there are so many great works out there to read)? Well, they were still good and what's more, highly innovative, and, furthermore, Michael Swanwick writes well. Babel