Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I Need to Read a Good Fantasy Book

Besides the obvious D&D hobby, I've written before how much I enjoy reading fantasy fiction. We went to Barnes & Noble on the Plaza earlier tonight and I went up to browse the fantasy/sci fi section like I always do. It had been a while since I'd done this, and tonight it was less enjoyable than I remembered. So much of what was there just seemed formulaic and cliched. Everything was part of an "epic trilogy." Trashy and unoriginal. There was still some quality writing, but I had to dig to find it. I think I've always tried to find the better stuff, but I don't remember being so overwhelmed by the rest of it in the past. The environment just wasn't magical tonight. I'm scared I'm losing my taste for the genre. Especially since I didn't get to the book I was planning to read before the start of the Librarians Read Challenge. I think I know what I want to read as soon as the challenge is over at the beginning of March in the hopes of rediscovering the joy of fantasy. I bought hardback copies of Gene Wolfe's Knight and Wizard a while back and haven't gotten to them. I read his Book of the New Sun in college and still feel it's the best fantasy I've read. Not necessarily the most fun or my favorite, but the best--although I'd have to reread them to really make a case for them at this point. But reading all of the blurbs from other authors on the backs of his books reminded me I need to get back to reading the man Ursula Le Guin called "our Melville."
Gene Wolfe not only entertains, he invests his work with a complexity and trickiness that place him among the most important American novelists of our time. For more than 40 years he has worked steadily at his art, each new book adding yet one more facet to his ongoing and surprisingly cohesive oeuvre. Within his genre Wolfe's living compeers are few -- Ursula Le Guin, J.G. Ballard, John Crowley -- and, like them, he should enjoy the same rapt attention we afford to Thomas Pynchon, Toni Morrison and Cormac McCarthy. (From the Washington Post's review at one of the Amazon links above.)


Lummox said...

Try the Dresden files. I can't remember the author's name, but they are pretty awesome. I think the last name of the author is Butcher (Jim Butcher maybe?). They are about a wizard that advertises in the phone book. If that isn't a great premis, I don't know what is. :D

Leelu said...

They are fun, and decent mysteries, too.

You might give Patricia McKillip a shot, if you haven't already. She's a veritable lyricist and a joy to read (but not for everyone).