What I like most about this is I feel the imagery sets a very particular, chilly and winter-hued tone:
He knew it was regarded as one of the loveliest Tudor manor houses in England and now it was before him in its perfection of form, its confident reconciliation of grace and strength; a house built for certainties, for birth, death and rites of passage, by men who knew what they believed and what they were doing. A house grounded in history, enduring. There was no grass or garden and no statuary in front of the Manor. It presented itself unadorned, its dignity needing no embellishment. He was seeing it at its best. The white morning glare of wintry sunlight had softened, burnishing the trunks of the beech trees and bathhing the stones of the manor in a silvery glow, so that for a moment in the stillness it seemed to quiver and become as insubstantial as a vision. The daylight would soon fade; it was the month of the winter solstice.
THE PRIVATE PATIENT, by P.D. James
My current, lovely, talented and very hardworking group of Novel III students is reaching the end of another quarter, with fifty new pages under their belts, and some of them are feeling the re-entry burn. They have more to do, and they’re falling prey to the “Is this shit? Can I finish?” blues.
I’ve told them they’re not alone, and offered a few of my tried-and-true funk breaking-techniques (punitive amounts of caffeine, bribing myself just to keep on, freewriting, Ignoring it and Hoping It Goes Away), but I am always happy to hear more. The more so because my current story, “Wetness,” is kicking me in the head with the Pointy Boots of Vagueness.
On another note, M.K. Hobson explains here how you and twenty-six of your friends can earn Clarion West $1500 just by joining the Write-A-Thon.
I am charmed by everything Eliot Fintushel does, and that includes his live performance of the entire Book of Revelation, but what I like about the opening of Breakfast with the Ones You Love is that it’s quirky and funny in its rhythms and yet dark–very dark–underneath.
If you want to be safe, a person like myself, you have to kill your face. Otherwise people get their hooks in you, which, who needs it? I already killed my face by the age of twelve. Problem is, my tits invaded. I tried not eating, which I hear stops tits in their tracks, but I couldn’t keep it up. In spite of everything, there is something in you that wants to keep you alive. It’s like a disease that you just can’t shake, no matter how hard you try. At least you can kill your face, see? Me, I can kill people too. I can kill them whenever I want to.
This fragment’s from Jo Walton’s Farthing.
All the same, there was enough of the Northerner left in him to distrust the Hampshire countryside that was doing its best to beguile him. The trees, so much more frequent and so much broader here than on his native moor, were in fullest leaf and cast a delightful shade. Beneath them spread as solid a carpet of bluebells as he had ever seen, sending their scent drifting into the car as he was driven on past them. The sun was shining from a deep blue sky, as it rarely shone on Lancashire, the fields were ploughed and planted, and the hay was already high, the grass was a verdant green, and the birds were singing. As if this wasn’t enough, every few miles the road wound its way through a little village with a church, a pub, a post office, thatched cottages, and just sufficient individuality to tell it from the last one.
What I like about it is that she uses the narrator’s point of view to inject a bit of attitude into the picture-postcard description. On the one hand it’s a lovely, bucolic bit of scenery, and on the other we see the way that gets up this character’s nose. It holds a mirror up to him, you might say, but in an interesting way.
I wrote a post this week for TOR.COM, about blackmail in fiction, and in Veronica Mars. The post is here; I hope to follow it up with some musings on other varieties of crime. Let me know what you think?
Second: I dunno how many of you have seen this past week’s new episode of a certain medical drama, so I’ll confine my comments on that to “OMG, squick! Ewww!” Either you know what I mean or that evil chuckle you hear is your DVR, waiting for you to boot it up.
Also TV adjacent, I am 3/5 of the way through watching Mildred Pierce on HBO and should probably hold my tongue until I see the conclusion, but I have to say that as viewing experiences go, this one so far has been entirely bizarre. Kate Winslet is fantastic, as usual, and her Lauren Bacall accent is a marvel to hear. And I’m always so happy to see Melissa Leo in anything.
But the story–I haven’t read the original novel–has all this peculiar class and gender stuff.
The message so far seems to be that men are useless parasites, and… um… something about social class and snobbery involving Guy Pearce’s naked bum. Seriously. The class stuff is, at this mid-point in the story, entirely murky. Mildred was a snob, but now she seems to be evolving. Unless she isn’t. It’s incredibly hard to tell.
The story is just intriguing enough to keep me watching, but it’s also very cold. Kate as Mildred seems as though she should be poised to be a source of joy and warmth in an otherwise harsh and chilly world, but she’s as icy as everyone and everything else. I am entirely baffled by it.