Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Reading Report

Oh hi. Yeah, been like a week since I blogged. Real life and all that. Anyway, doing a good bit of reading lately, so figured I'd log in for a reading report. Over the weekend I read a book that's almost 195 years old. (Not my copy, mind you. It's a facsimile edition.) It's called Barozzi: The Venetian Sorceress, and it's one of the later Gothic novels, published in 1815. As the introduction notes it's pretty much a mishmash of earlier Gothics, primarily Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho and George Brewer's The Witch of Ravensworth, leaning particularly hard on the latter. Still it's worth reading for its lively narrative style. The virginal, endangered heroine begins to wear on you after a while because she's so sweet and kind and wonderful and everyone just loves her, and she's constantly bursting into tears and lamenting her fate, but hey that was one of the tropes in that kind of book.
Then I re-read a couple of C.L. Moore's stories about Jirel of Joiry. I noticed the other day that I have neglected to give Jirel an entire post of her own here at Singular points and since she is an important character in the history of sword & sorcery, I need to rectify that soon.
Currently I'm switching back and forth between two books. The first is Stephen King's latest, Under the Dome, which begins as a sort of bloody Twilight Zone episode as an unexplained force field suddenly appears around a small town in Maine. No one can get in or out. King, being King, spends a lot of loving details on the gory after effects of the various cars, trucks,and planes which strike the invisible barrier. The he settles down to the sort of character development we've come to expect from King. I'm about 200 pages in and things are still really getting started, but this monster of a book is almost 1100 pages in hardback so he's got plenty of room to go. So far, I'm enjoying the book quite a bit.
This being the Christmas season though, I wanted to get in a little holiday reading, so I also started Anne Perry's much shorter book, (208 pages) a mystery called A Christmas Beginning. It's become something of a tradition for Perry to write a short novel for every Christmas season. This one actually came out in 2007, but somehow I never got around to reading it. Perry is best known for her two Victorian era mystery series, The Thomas Pitt books which take place in the late Victorian era, and the Monk books, which are set about thirty years earlier in Dickens' time period. A Christmas Beginning features a secondary character from the Monk books, a police inspector named Runcorn in a leading role this time.
Runcorn, a fifty-ish bachelor is taking a holiday on a small island in Wales for Christmas. Having no family he figured he might as well treat himself to a nice trip for the season. His holiday ends abruptly after the town Vicar's spirited young sister is murdered, stabbed to death in the church yard. Runcorn doesn't think the local constables are getting anywhere and he soon steps in to handle the investigation in his own rough hewn fashion. Perry's descriptions of the island are vivid and her period details, as always, impeccable. Back when I was reading whodunits hand over fist, Perry was a favorite. I'm enjoying being back in her company for the holidays.
Anyway, that's the reading report for now. We'll see what else pops up as the Holiday season continues.

2 comments:

Brett Brooks said...

I can't help but think that you noticed the similarities between the new Stephen King novel and The Simpsons Movie from a concept point of view. It's all I can think of when I see the book or hear about it...

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Yep, I thought the same thing when I first saw the cover. I said to Cliff "Isn't this the Simpson's Movie?" King is aware of it now and talks a bit about it at his website. Just one of those odd coincidences, because the concept for the book is an old idea of his that he started once before many years back and abandoned. And of course the plots are in no way similar. But yeah, can't look at the cover without thinking of Homer and Spider Pig...