Inter Alia: Alan Wall, Iain M. Banks, Daniel Handler

Things That Never Happen took so much of my attention that i really couldn't say much about my digressions--well, nothing i thought sensible enough to post; but here, allow me to try to recover some of my thoughts at the time: Alan Wall is an amazingly sharp writer, and between his first novel, School of Night and his latest, China (both of which i'd only really dabbled in, reading only the first few chapters of each book), you can see the progress he's made over the years. both are well-crafted, beautiful works, but there's a comfort with the rhythm and flow of China that i couldn't find in School. Mr Wall's writing, appropriately enough for China feels like 'jazz when it works'...but i couldn't continue; everything just felt too, well, linear after the scattershot-genius of Things; i was in the wrong mindset for it, so i'll probably have to come back to Mr Wall's books some other time.

Iain M. Banks' State of the Art opens rather tepidly, imho. Road of Skulls seemed too embroiled in its own wit, and while it had its moments, the ending didn't quite 'linger like smoke rising from a crematorium' as Publishers Weekly put it over on Amazon.com. Road just wasn't as clever as it thought it was, to my mind. A Gift from the Culture started out much more promisingly; i've always admired Mr Banks' wit, but always thought it worked best when 'being clever' wasn't allowed centerstage. i got through a couple pages of A Gift, but i'd only picked the book up to keep me company while i waited for someone, and when she arrived, i closed the book, set it aside, and haven't gone back to it since.

Daniel Handler's Watch Your Mouth was my most recent digression before going back to the beginning of M. John Harrison's Signs of Life. i am utterly distressed by (read: i absolutely love) Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, though my reading mindset has thankfully (read: regrettably) of late kept me away from finishing the series off by reading The End. Mr Handler is Mr Snicket's 'representative' as i understand it, and is no less gifted, i hear, with wit. no doubt about it: the writing in Watch Your Mouth feels like ASoUE for adults--with healthy doses of sex and everything; sans Baudelaires, of course, though i expect i would not be surprised at all to find a hook-handed man, powder-faced twins, a person who looks neither like a man or a woman, or dirty old men with eyes tattooed to their ankles lurking about in the shadows of the book's pages.

i feel like i missed a 'digression' or two; ah well: all this more or less gets you up to speed with where i'm at, and brings us back round to Mr Harrison's Signs of Life.

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