A Cruel Man Delighting in Flowers

...the mildness to which men ... had yielded was only half of the intoxication of beauty, while the other half ... was of such surpassing and terrible cruelty—the most cruel of men delights himself with a flower—that beauty ... failed quickly of its effect... 

Hermann BrochThe Death of Virgil


Jeremy Davies is made of ink, but don’t dip a feather in him. It tickles. He once painted a fingernail black and no one really noticed. He was disappointed. He’s also an editor, a religious atheist, a liker of strong coffees, a Shakespeare-lover, a political anarchist and someone who rarely has a pen when he needs one. He has been a PhD candidate, a personal trainer, a life model, a bouncer, an infantry soldier and someone who rarely had a pen when he needed one. He has had words published in a variety of places, in a variety of publications, in a variety of forms, in a variety of moments: Canada, Wet Ink, SMS and twelve minutes past three in the afternoon being some of these. His first novel, 'Missing Presumed Undead', will be re-published by Satalyte Publishing in February 2014. A second is on its way.

A Game of Thrones  - George R.R. Martin This is interesting and entertaining epic heroic-fantasy: a mostly neat marriage between Tolkien-esque world-building and gritty Gemmell-esque realism. There is much to enjoy, from the various narrative focal points that are chapter driven, to the unrelenting pace and plot-movement. There’s enough in there for the traditional fantasy reader, and the dovetail-neatly-with-my-modern-progressive-worldview crew. Sure, you could quote material that would get up either camps nose—like, oh look, he’s a male writer and he’s writing as a pretty woman who notices her breasts as sexual things sometimes; or, ah, here we go, non-stereotypical big-strong-woman warrior who can kick arse or gonads—but Martin does his best to try and please everyone.

Which brings me to some problems.

For example, he does his best to try and please everyone.

The focal characters are full, internalised, and capable of movement; but you get the impression, sometimes, just sometimes, that they’re actors, going though the motions. Some modes used are quite repetitive, and so the character responses start to feel cardboard in quality.

I went through definite phases of engagement with this story, oscillating between really being ‘into it’ and feeling quite apart—but still being compelled to find out what-happens-next. This means that the storytelling event, I suppose, is successful, even when it’s at its worst: so an overall success.

I’m not sure if this compulsion shall lead me on to being a consumer of the series, however. It is a massive time investment for the time-poor when you think about all the books in the world that you could be reading. We shall see.

Currently reading

Lyrical and Critical Essays
Albert Camus
The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages
Harold Bloom
The Rebel (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)
Albert Camus