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Two interesting authors.

PostPosted: Wednesday, 24 September 2008, 8:21 pm
by owlcroft
(Originally this was to be part of a post on the Bujold thread, but I reconsidered and am giving it its own. These are a couple of books that didn't quite end up on the lists here, but which struck me as having merits.)

The Woman and the Raven by Marlene vor der Hake: set in a far northern land, with a protagonist never called anything but "the woman"; it starts quite well, with prose as clean and spare as the frozen wasteland in which the young woman lives alone, becoming a witch. As a sample, the opening sentence:

    A long, long time ago when trolls and elves still roamed the earth there lived a woman at the far end of the sea where snow-capped glaciers and freezing rivers meet the ice floes dancing on the waves.
I've read a lot worse from notably more famed writers. The deliberate sparseness of punctuation gives an effect arguably than more conventional comma insertion might have achieved. The plot is fairly simple and straightforward, and mythic in quality. The first, oh, half of the book, if carried on, might well have brought it to these lists; but in the later parts of the book, where more characters appear, regrettably it becomes somewhat more formulaic, as to plot, characterization, and prose. All in all, it is still not bad, and quite ok to read (Amazon readers clearly liked it well enough). I hope Marlene goes on to other works; I would certainly check them out.

Then there was Zollocco by Cynthia Joyce Clay. It's a curious sf tale, told in first person, set in a slightly alternative universe; it has a somewhat comic outside with a serious ecology-based inside, dealing with the heroine's interactions with worlds of sentient forests. The plot is adequate, but the ideas and storytelling are the virtues. Clay's prose tends to short, staccato sentences, vaguely Hemingway-esque:

    I was in the Temple. It was so strange. I felt I had been on a real journey. As I sat up, I saw others sitting up also.
That style is both the virtue and the vice of her prose: at times, it works well, but at others, when only a little less well managed, it gets cumbersome. Still, all in all, the book was a pleasant zero-level read, and, again, I would certainly look at other works. (Amazon readers certainly seemed to like it.)