Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

30 May, 2008

Three Days of Narrative Goodness

I'm in media res of three days full of good tales of excitement, drama, action, violence, and fresh fruit!

Last night brought the season finale of LOST. It was a two hour affair and I avoided spoilers, though it was tough. I spent a night earlier this week unable to fall asleep because my mind was preoccupied with an effort to link the moving of the island with the presence of the Black Rock so far inland. I'll go easy on the spoilers here, if I can. I thought it was great. There were some wonderfully visceral scenes such when Ben's paternal vengeance was loosed and it's always exciting to see what an orientation video will reveal.

While it's going to be a seven month wait for more LOST, season 2 of Wormwood will be downloading later today. (Read my interview with co-creator David Accampo here.) Xander's fate was left hanging at the end of season 1 and the whole town was imperiled by a rather nasty cult. Plus, being the gentleman that I am, I'm concerned for Sparrow. So Wormwood's return will most certainly help cushion the blow and steer my mind towards another mystery.

Come Saturday Doctor Who returns after a one week hiatus with "Silence in the Library" which looks to be a spookfest. Libraries are some of my favorite places and stories set in them have, at the very least, really cool settings going for them.

As long as I'm on the topic of stories, I should mention that I've started reading Darkwalker on Moonshae by R.A. Salvatore, the very first Forgotten Realms novel. Yeah, I know I made fun of my friends who read them earlier this week but I took the plunge anyway as I just wanted something mindless to read after finishing Ian McEwan's The Cement Garden.

The Cement Garden was good, if a bit disturbing. Imagine Lord of the Flies set in urban decay. Four siblings find themselves living alone at home after their parents die. Jack, the narrator, is a teenager and is dislocated from his family and those around him more generally. He doesn't particularly care for his siblings and his parents are cold and distant. His narrative portrays his father as a disciplinarian and one who mocks his children. Jack's mother warns him against every teenage boys main hobby – masturbation – though this doesn't stop him. Jack has no friends and no other relatives live nearby. Indeed, the whole family is portrayed as being alone – no neighbors and not close to the rest of the extended family.

In an attempt to sort of keep the family together, the kids decide to put their mother's corpse into a trunk in the basement and fill it with cement. (Father was already dead and buried.) Alone, the siblings forge bonds with one another, however tenuous. Julie, the eldest at 17 or so, starts dating a 23-year-old named Derek. At one point, he begins to smell the mother's body but the kids hem & haw and try to divert his attention. However, when Derek witnesses an incestuous moment between Jack and Julie, he is mortified and alerts the authorities. It's one thing for siblings to bond just as long as they don't bond too tightly.

Now, as for my foray into the world of Forgotten Realms novels, I'll admit that Darkwalker on Moonshae isn't too bad. Salvatore's writing style is quite enjoyable. He doesn't use 40 words when a few will do nor does he regale us with interminable family histories yet his prose is quite lively and descriptive.

I'm in the middle of the third chapter but I don't know how much more I can take. The story itself is generic stuff: big, bad meanie vs. forces of light & goodness; impetuous young prince and fair maiden; the rogue who seems to actually be a good person inside; the loveable big brute. That things are generally standard boilerplate isn't really a problem for me. What is a problem is that I just don't care all that much about any of characters nor about what is going to happen.

I'm going to try to stick it out but I make no promises.
|| Palmer, 7:51 AM

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