Having cut out the centers of two thick hardbacks to make secret compartment books for the kids this past xmas, I can really appreciate the sheer effort it must take Brian Dettmer to create these works of art. The aesthetic value is obvious. I think I’m going to give this a try. I love any excuse to wear through dozens of x-acto blades and even think I’ve a few books that would be well suited to a project like this.
I just finished A Feast for Crows the fourth book in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series. I liked the first few a lot, but this one really found me struggling to finish. It took me over a month to slog through its 684 pages of gore. I don’t think any of the previous took more than a week and didn’t leave me feeling quite as dirty. That it is half the book he found himself writing (other half due out next year) is truly frightening. It could have been longer?!?
A lot of what left me cold was the endless listing of names. Irrelavant names. Stupid names. The appendixes of Family Trees would be hilarious had we not actually been forced at sword point to trace all of them and more during my forced march the prose. Endless, and I mean endless passages outlining of lineages could take the shine off any book (Return of the King ring any bells?) but this book hasn’t much shine to begin with. It has a meanness instead.
The meanness in this book is intensely delivered and intensely felt. From the first book of the series, the author makes you like characters only to skewer, hang, grind, or open up in some other gruesome way. This continues through all the books, but it gets worse as you go. By the fourth, Martin had his bad guys (as if you could tell the difference between ‘bad’ and ‘good’ in this book) shoving testicles in dying men’s mouths (their own, or those of any goat that happens to be handy), raping all women, biting peoples faces off, hacking off limbs…you get the point.
The point is…there is no point. I repeat: I like this series in the beginning and I’m going to give the next book a shot if only for that but if this fucking pornographic murder-fest continues I’ll throw the damn book on the fire and be happily done with it. It’s disgusting and unneccesary. In know that life way back in this pretend history was tough. I know that people were lucky to live into their 40s. I got the fucking message, George. You didn’t have to rub my face in the entrails.
I used to recommend Song of Fire and Ice to folks who like fantasy free of elves, dwarves, and other cute creatures. I don’t recommend it any more. I think I’ll go curl up with one of my sleeping kids, breathe in the smell of their hair, and feel really fucking lucky that we don’t live in this damn book.
It’s really very sad when a voice that you love – a voice that you depend on to challenge and inspire – suddenly goes silent. Science Fiction writer Octavia Butler died unexpectedly on Friday. She was only 58 years old and had just published her first book in eight years. I feel such sadness at losing the words she still had to write.
Octavia Butler wrote with intensity about issues of gender, race, sexuality, and humanity, challenging her readers with her unflinching exploration of what is means to be human. Her stories never shied from sadness or gave easy answers. I still can’t believe we won’t know what happens next.
Thank you Octavia. Thank you and good-bye.
“I’m comfortably asocial ? a hermit in the middle of a large city, a pessimist if I’m not careful, a feminist, a Black, a former Baptist, an oil-and-water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty and drive.”