1.) I hate to admit that I’m looking forward to the final Wheel of Time book… but I’m looking forward to the final Wheel of Time book. Part of it is that, at times, I am something of a Great Fantasy Moments junkie, much like everyone raised on Tolkien. (“And Morgoth came.” Three little words but they make the entire Silmarillion, which is otherwise at best… shall we say an imperfect work.) I have yet to read Patrick Rothfuss, but otherwise among modern fantasy authors, Jordan and George R.R. Martin are the only epicky fantasy authors who can come anywhere near to the amount of fuckyeah Tolkien could drop down to a single sentence, which is, let’s be honest, a large part of their appeal.
I mean, I get it. I get that Jordan’s writing veers sharply between “a little bit sexist” and “whoa lordy that’s sexist.” I get that there are between two and four books in the middle of it where nothing happens, and that number really only varies by how forgiving you are. I get that Jordan’s allegories are so sheerly clever that sometimes they’re just kind of silly. And did I mention the sexism? Because lordy. But the Wheel of Time has had some truly fantastic moments of fuckyeah: the charge of the heroes in book two, the defense of Emond’s Field in book four, the first attack of the Asha’man in book six, pretty much the whole of book eleven. I can forgive a lot for that.
(And yes, I get that Brandon Sanderson deserves lots of credit for finishing the series off, but I don’t like his other stuff that much.)
2.) Does anybody else ever look at a chain of books by a single author on their shelf and then think “why is that it?” Sometimes it’s self-evident, of course: there aren’t any more Flashman novels because George Macdonald Fraser died, and every time I see my Flashman books I think “can’t wait for the next – oh.” (Granted, every time I see my Flashman books I also think “I really need to get my Flashmans all in the same edition so they look pretty,” but then I realize that that is kind of silly and if I want to give my money away there are poor people in need of soup.)
But Christopher Moore. Why is my Christopher Moore broken up? There are at least three Christopher Moore books I don’t have yet, and I love all his books. Why haven’t I gotten around to reading them? I mean, yes, I always have a pile of books that I’ve bought and yet to read. I’m one of those sorts of people who buy books and then forget to read them: it doesn’t help having the flagship store of an excellent and gigantic used bookstore chain just down the street from me, letting me buy quality books for a few bucks a pop. But this isn’t the “not enough time in your life to read everything that’s worth reading” problem that keeps me from finishing all that Dostoyevsky, or that Complete Robert E. Howard Conan collection, or Everything Is Illuminated1. We’re talking here about books by an author I like and I know I actively want to keep reading. What the hell is up with that?
And then, of course, there’s P.J. O’Rourke, who I stopped reading when he stopped being funny, which was a long time ago. Which is a shame, because P.J.’s early stuff is fantastic.
3.) Does anybody else have a lot of one-offs? Books by authors you really liked and then felt no need to keep reading that person’s stuff? It’s like the literary equivalent of having that one Beta Band single on your iPod. And Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris, Run by Douglas E. Winter, Thank You For Smoking by Christopher Buckley, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susannah Clarke – these are all great books and I’m glad they’re on my shelf and I won’t be getting rid of them any time soon, but I’m not gonna check out those authors’ other works either, and I can’t think of a good reason why.
4.) Why the hell do I still have a copy of How To Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby Young?
5.) I’m overdue for a culling, obviously, which can be so depressing sometimes. I mean, surely someone will get more love and inspiration from All I Need To Know About Filmmaking I Learned From The Toxic Avenger by Lloyd Kaufman, and it’s just gathering dust, but I don’t want to get rid of it. Those Mick Foley memoirs? Print The Legend, that fantastic John Ford biography? Argh. I know I will never read these books again, but they need to make room for new books. I mean, A Memory of Light is gonna be like sixty billion pages. I’d need to ditch six copies of Best Seat in the House, Spike Lee’s entertaining-but-uneven basketball memoir, in order to make room so that I can find out what the hell happens to Rand Al’Thor.5
I also have trouble culling because one of my favorite types of book is the oddball history – things like Joel Glenn Brunner’s The Emperors of Chocolate or Charlatan by Pope Brock or For All The Tea In China by Sarah Rose. I can never get rid of this sort of book, because I always think “well, there are ideas in here and I am building a weird writer’s reference library and suchlike, it is an asset.” Which means they just accumulate, unceasingly. And I must be fine with this.
- Which I bought either because I really liked the cover or because I saw maybe twenty minutes of the film adaptation and thought “well, I might read the book based on this.” [↩]
- Kay can also do epic fantasy fuckyeah like nobody’s business, but hasn’t really been interested in doing it for years. Which is a shame, because if you’ve read The Fionovar Tapestry you know Kay can bring the fuckyeah. [↩]
- The CBC should spend a lot of money on a miniseries adaptation of those books. [↩]
- Ha! I just suggested that the CBC spend lots of money on something! I’m hilarious! [↩]
- Well, Perrin and Mat, actually. I don’t really care about Rand. Rand is boring. [↩]