Wednesday, October 14, 2009

2. 10/8/09 Henry and June by Anais Nin (274 pages)

Why did I read this book? Mostly because I love Richard E. Grant. The connection may not be immediately obvious, so I'll just mention that he played Hugo in the film that was made ( I believe) in the 80s. I picked up a cheap copy of the book somewhere, and decided to check it out.
It was good, but slightly disappointing. After all of the vague things you hear about Anais Nin, I, at least, was expecting something slightly dirtier than what Henry and June delivered. That being said, I really enjoyed reading the work of a woman who was comfortable with her sexuality, and had no problem with following her own desires to their unconventional, but logical conclusion. I know enough about history and women's studies to see that her attitude was rare and shocking for the times, and was generally something seen more in men. In addition she embraces this idea, explores it, and never loses her femininity. She refuses to believe that her strong urges and curiosity about women made her masculine in any way.
I know its a journal, but a lack of plot tends to bother me, so it had that working against it, but I admired Anais Nin for the way she lived her life on her terms. I also admired the men in her life for accepting her the way she was.
I can't really tell what she learned or how it all ended, seeing as it was only a year of her diary, but I think it will be a while before I even think about taking on the rest of them. Still, it was nice to break up the Amor Vinicit Omnia mentality of the Outlander novels with the musings of a woman who believed in love but was interested primarily in sex.

1. 10/7/09 The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon (976 pages)

So my first thoughts, in my first entry for this year were mostly about how disappointed I was in myself for year two. FORTY books less than year one? What the hell? I then proceeded to blame Diana Gabaldon for this. I don't know that it was her fault, and even if it was it certainly wasn't very sportsmanlike of me to mention it. I did, however, spend two months (+) rereading her Outlander series in preparation for the release of book 7. That took up a huge amont of time and I STILL wasn't ready when the book came out. This is where the pages counts come it.
Then I moved on to what I actually read.
I really enjoy the way Diana Gabaldon writes, and I have always devoured her books as quickly as I was able. This one was no different, but I remember being vaguely disappointed the first time. Now that I've read it three or four times, I would say that its grown on me. That being said, I think the editing could be quite a bit tighter. She starts by describing- in extreme detail- one day. This goes on for more than 100 pages. There's nothing there that I hate, or definitely think should be gone, but I'm not an editor, am I? I like long books, and I'm no enemy of detail, but that is a looong day.
I also think that the whole book feels like a placeholder between the action, and after having read 976 pages, its startling to realize that if there was an overarching plot, I missed it. I feel this every time I read it.
I do, however, have a strong love and appreciation of Diana Gabaldon's style, and after I'd read the book a couple of times, I decided that if I look at it as a story about Jamie and Roger, rather and one about Jamie and Claire, it gelled better for me. I like to think about it as a sub-genre of Epic Bromance, starting with everyone being bothered that Roger is presbyterian and ending with he and Jamie hainvg Special Vengeance Trips together, I may have interpreted an overarching plot for myself.
It will never be my favorite Outlander novel, but there are some great bits in there, and I really love the last line. But why, oh, why does she continuously need to torture her fabulous main characters in such creatively monstrous ways (a la Roland Emmerich)?

A Bit More Information

So, here's how it works: I spend a year recording the number of books I've read so far, the title of the book, the author, the date I finished it, and my personal review. New this year I've decided to keep track of page counts, as lengthy tomes occassionally skew my totals. Make sense? If not, I'll try to work on it. There may be some kinks trying to translate my immediate reactions in a journal into coherent thoughts on the internet, so bear with me...