vass: Jon Stewart reading a dictionary (books)
Vass ([personal profile] vass) wrote2014-02-16 12:40 am
Entry tags:

Culture Consumed, um, Saturday


Listening to Patrick O'Brian, The Mauritius Command on audiobook. My first thought on meeting Jack and Stephen again for the first time in years was that a lot of the qualities I like in Jack Aubrey are the same ones I like in Thor. (Jack got lucky: instead of being a prince of Asgard, he ran off to sea. And the British Navy is a much more structured way to do that than going a-viking. So many of Thor's problems would have never existed if instead of Mjolnir he'd gotten boarding school.)

My second thought (during a scene in which Jack is showing Stephen the beehives he gave Jack and Sophie as a wedding present) was that Jack is basically Winnie the Pooh. Fat, blond, an excellent sailor, a good musician, comically confused when out of his natural element, warm and loving and gets into scrapes, attacked by bees while retrieving honey, wears ridiculous disguises... Well, I see it. Now imagine a Piglet who instead of being timid has a cold, reptilian glare and practices surgery on himself.

Read Isobelle Carmody's Obernewtyn. It has some first novel issues, including showing not telling, weasel words, and a lot of fantasy cliches. "I woke with the clammy feeling of apprehension that usually preceded some sort of premonition."

There are some problems a good editing would have caught: too many typos and missed words, and a number of annoying continuity errors, like putting someone's reaction to something they just heard two paragraphs before they hear that thing. Not as a flashback, as something that is happening right then.

Elspeth, the main character, reads as kind of sociopathic to me, like no one else in the book is actually real to her. This is actually not an unreasonable consequence of her having lost her parents at an early age to judicial murder, and then been brought up in a way that would outright encourage her to look out for herself before anyone else and not form close connections with other people.

More worryingly, though, the narrative seems to support her in this. "I thanked fortune that fate had seen fit to make my room mates dull-witted creatures who slept like logs." This is also part of a more general problem both with motivation and with conflict: Elspeth keeps moving the plot forward with sentences like "one day I decided to [plot point.] I don't know why it never occurred to me before." I don't know why it never occurred to her before either, and I also don't know why it occurred to her right now. And then nothing stops her. She's sneaking around the castle and hides in a conveniently placed alcove, of which there are many, although they had not been mentioned until she needed one to hide in. It's too easy. Like all the characters, including her, are sleepwalking through the predestined plot.

Drinking game:
- every time Elspeth says "fortunately" to describe a missed opportunity for plot, drink.
- each time someone helps Elspeth at risk to themselves because she is the prophesied one, e.g. "I dreamed your life has a purpose which must be fulfilled for the sake of all things," drink.


Onsind, Dworkin's Children. I had to listen to it again, this time with the lyrics in front of me - the lyrics aren't necessarily easy to hear. I liked 'Good News Everyone, I'm Still Technically Alive' and 'My Clean Sweep At The Clown Oscars' and especially 'Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter'.


Got my first Surrender To Chance decants. I've already posted about that, but yeah. It was fun.

[personal profile] nixwilliams 2014-02-15 02:50 pm (UTC)(link)
I remember really liking Obernewtyn, but have often wondered if it would stand up to a re-read. Maybe not!
ellen_fremedon: overlapping pages from Beowulf manuscript, one with a large rubric, on a maroon ground (Default)

[personal profile] ellen_fremedon 2014-02-15 03:25 pm (UTC)(link)
Jack is basically Winnie the Pooh.

Oh, I want that fanart now!
shehasathree: (Default)

[personal profile] shehasathree 2014-02-16 02:09 am (UTC)(link)
shehasathree: (Default)

[personal profile] shehasathree 2014-02-16 07:21 am (UTC)(link)
heh, thanks. i red quite a few of the series around the time the Master & Commander movie came out, but haven't read any for years.

That's probably part of why I'm seeing Jack Aubrey as Winnie the Pooh, actually: he uses a low, growly voice for Jack, and a high, querulous voice for Stephen.

"Simon Vance began his recording career at the age of 6 when he read Winnie-the-Pooh aloud into a microphone."