The end saved this one a bit for me. I really was not a fan of a lot of the middle, so much of it seemed disconnected from everything and meaningless and confusing, but maybe that was the point.
The end was really surreal and creepy and dark, but the kooky humor of the rest of the book sort of undercut the effect of it I think.
I feel there was probably some meaning I was missing in this one, as nothing seemed to have any connection to anything… a strange read, but not recommended unless it’s your brand of humor.
I sent The Observer on it’s first journey to an agency. They give a 12 week window for response. So, now to try not to think about it for the next months…
Rejections are easier and easier to deal with, it’s the waiting that is hard. Because the longer they take, the more hopeful you become. Then the inevitable no is all the more painful when it finally arrives. Though, now that I’ve sent out my own share of rejections at Lucent Dreaming, I know that sometimes they just take a while to get to, and read, and think about. There’s just no getting around that wait time, is there? Unless you’re a really awesome place like Clarkesworld, then it’s only a few days or less.
It really is terrible, though… the waiting… the waiting… the torment of hope…
Every time I finish a particularly difficult book, be it bad, or odd, or just confusing, I take a break with a Nabokov novel. They are always so clear and crisp and enjoyable, it’s like drinking a nice glass of cool water after a tiring time in the sun.
This time I’m reading the Luzhin Defense, the story of an anti-social, obsessive chess player who goes mad. As all Nabokov novels I’ve so far read, it is just a joy, and the prose is so delicious, my brain thanks me in much the way in thanks me for a good meal. And it always makes me smile, with little bits like this for example:
Little Luzhin would go away, trailing his satchel over the carpet; Luzhin senior would lean his elbow on the desk, where he was writing one of his usual stories in blue exercise books (a whim which, perhaps, some future biographer would appreciate), and listen to the monologue in the neighboring dining room, to his wife’s voice persuading the silence to drink a cup of cocoa.
Can you not just see that so clearly… the over optimistic father, the pouty child and coddling mother… all in just a few sentences.
Something about the way he writes is just very enjoyable and smilingly good for me…
That’s right, I’m reading (listening to) the strange, fourth wall breaking story by Italo Calvino… also, I’m recording myself talking about it?
Yes, I’m dipping my feet warily into the frozen, shark laden waters of YOUTUBE. Will strangers want to listen to me ramble in an unfocused, unplanned way about this odd novel? Well I’m going to find out.
I’ve already learned just from the first try that I’m much better at writing than speaking… this will be perhaps a good exercise in public communication!
Here are some thoughts on this novel so far. Recorded in my car, in a parking lot after I listened to a section of the audio book. You’ll see a few more of these, and they will likely start to contain spoilers, but this one doesn’t have any except the barest ones about the structure of the book itself. Okay, here you go:
I love reading about artists. I can usually identify with those kinds of characters pretty well. This story was an interesting look at the ‘miniaturists’ of 16th century Istanbul. And what held my attention most, was the way they looked at art.
In that time, ‘style’ was seen as a flaw. If anyone could tell your work from that of any other artist, that meant that you were making mistakes. All this is surrounded by a murder mystery, where trying to find out who drew a certain picture is central to the plot…
I also found the connection between art and religion interesting. The miniaturist (painter/drawer) saw himself as trying to depict the ‘essence’ of whatever he drew. For instance, if he drew a horse, he was not trying to draw any particular horse from reality, but the purest form of ‘horse’ that existed, as if the horse that God saw. After drawing a horse a million times, the artist could draw it from memory, using only his minds eye, even if blind… some of the miniaturists would even blind themselves on purpose, to keep their art from being distracted by the outside world…
An interesting and exciting and educational read.
I’ve been having a lot of ideas lately, giving them a bit of polish, then storing them away for later. I don’t often have success with an idea when I write it too soon. Ideas need to age…
But now that I’ve got a few of them shelved and fermenting, maybe I can actually get some writing done instead of all this… thinking (not writing).
My next story is going to be for a pre-issue of the magazine I’m working with, Lucent Dreaming. So you can look forward to reading something from me there soon!
Also, we are having a short story contest, check it out if you’d like to enter 🙂