Monday, May 05, 2008

Weekend Report

When you're used to having a three day weekend every week, a two day weekend seems remarkably short. I mentioned that I had a class on Friday, which meant that instead of being out of work by 10:00 am as I usually am, I was stuck inside until 4:00 that afternoon.
Saturday I headed up to Canton to visit my grandmother at the assisted living facility. Turned out that it was the anniversary of the place and they were having a party and a bunch of my relatives showed up. I ended up staying longer than I'd planned, mostly because of parking problems, but I did enjoy talking to my cousin and one of my aunts whom I seldom see.
Saturday afternoon I tried to just chill and ended up watching Tarzan's New York Adventure. It's one of those comfort movies for me. Something I remember from childhood and know by heart. It's kind of fun to see Johnny Weissmuller's version of Tarzan try and make his way through civilization. In the end of course, it's his jungle wisdom and his way with elephants that save the day. Even circus elephants know Tarzan it seems.
Got up early Sunday and went back to the Three Bears Cafe for breakfast. Excellent as always. Then I headed over to borders. I bought Tales of the Dying Earth, which collects all four of Jack Vance's Dying Earth books into one volume. Don't plan on reading the others anytime soon. I've learned it's not a good idea to read too many of an authors books back to back as it tends to blunt the effectiveness of the writers intent. I'll save those for dry spells in reading material.
Also picked up Terry Brooks' The Wishsong of Shannara. After reading the first two chapters of the book in the back of the Shannara graphic novel (which is a sequel of sorts) a few weeks back, I decided to give Wishsong a try. Read about 100 pages of it yesterday afternoon. It gets off to a fast start, as most of Brooks books do. It's odd, but whenever I mention I'm reading one of the Shannara books, someone always asks "Didn't he rip off the Lord of the Rings in his first book?"
I haven't read Sword of Shannara, so I can't say for sure, but that's what I've been told. I've also been told, by folks who know, that a lot of that can be laid at the feet of editor Lester Del Rey, who had made up his mind to show that a fantasy could hit the bestseller list and took the work of a first time novelist and shaped it and promoted it to the top of the list. Of the six or seven Shannara books that I've read, none really owe any more to J.R.R. Tolkien than the works of other fantasy writers like Raymond Fiest, Bob Salvatore, Robert Jordan, etc. But a lot of people just can't seem to get past the stigma of that first book. (I used to be one of those people.) Brooks is aware of it and talks a good bit about it in his non fiction book, Sometimes the Magic Works.
Basically the Shannara books are adventure yarns set in a D&D style world. Brooks is much less interested in world building and fantasy than he is in battles and monsters and escapes and pursuits. Not a lot of literary value, but a good sort of book to pass the time, much like watching action movies or many television shows.
Anyway, the weekend was pretty pleasant even though it seemed a bit short. And now it's back to the real world.


Allie said...

I'm intriuged by your Terry Brooks comments - I've been meaning to pick up one of his books to try. Will have to move it to the top of my list!

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Cool. I'd recommend beginning with Elfstones of Shannara. Gives a better picture of the whole series. Most of Brooks books can be read individually even though they're part of a series.