Blog posting has been infrequent lately, because most of my writing each day is going into a new novel. But in my spare time I’ve been into these things:
—1Q84, by Haruki Murakami. I’m about two-thirds of the way through it, and all I’m ready to say about it is that I can see why critics are divided over it. The book works best for me when I read not less than two but no more than four chapters a day, the pace I think it’s designed for. Not because it’s particularly intellectually challenging and requires time to digest, but because the repetition of events and phrases gets to me in large doses. However, at a slower pace, the subtle differences between the repetitions becomes more apparent, making those repetitions read more like variations on a theme. Unlike many long novels that seem to assume that readers have the ability of total recall in addition to huge blocks of time to dedicate to following a narrative, 1Q84 seems to be designed for people who are thinking about lots of different things at once during the day, who don’t have a lot of free time, and who might need regular reminders of past events in a storyline. Which I appreciate. And the perception of those ever-nebulous “pacing problems” (which I thought the book had at first, when I was going through it too quickly) can sometimes be the result of a reader in too much of a hurry.
—Walt Simonson’s run on The Mighty Thor (recently collected in a Marvel Omnibus). You know, if you were to just describe the character of Beta Ray Bill to someone, it’d sound like the dumbest thing ever, but here it works because Simonson plays the character so straight (and also because Simonson is a great storyteller and his art is gorgeous). The attitude seems to be that if you’ve already suspended your disbelief enough to accept comic-book versions of Norse gods, why not go the distance and buy this bionic alien, too?
—Final Fantasy XIII. Late to the party on this, but my Pile of Shame currently consists of over sixty games, and that’s only current-gen stuff. So I’m attempting to whittle it down this year. Sometimes I think FFXIII is barely even a game—in the early chapters, it’s more like an interactive anime that requires me to press the X button now and again—but after a getting a fair distance into it I’m starting to see how the battle system could be interesting later on. And to be fair, I’ve never gotten bored with looking at it. Eye candy, sure, but what’s wrong with that?
But these days I’m primarily focused on the new novel, which is chugging along each day. I’m adding more to the manuscript than I’m crossing out, which is the best position to be in.