Monday, November 16, 2009

Something Purple. . .

For the second meeting of Padfoot and Prongs's Good Books Club - held every third Sunday of the month, beginning at 7pm - we had chosen Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. It's the story of two boys and an evil carnival that tempts and destroys. It is also a rumination on growing up and the loss of innocence. Totally seemed like something I'd like.

Alas, it became the first book in a long time I've ended up abandoning. (Around page 112.)

Awhile ago, on the Twilight Sucks! website forum, I came across a thread discussing Silk and Steel, a fantasy novel by one Ron Miller. All commentators agreed that this was EPIC PURPLE PROSE. All florid, nonsensical description, going on and on and on, and yet never actually describing anything.

(Click on the image to enlarge. Also, here is another discussion, plus additional pages, on Livejournal.) Yes, folks, not only was this actually published, but apparently Arthur C. Clark thinks Ron Miller is teh awesomeness.

Honestly, I felt similarly about Bradbury's prose (even though it made a heck of a lot more sense than Ron Miller's . . . um . . . uh. . . WTF do you even call that?). It was too much. I couldn't visualize anything (scenes or actions) and couldn't concentrate. Like, here's an example:
Another and another time under the sky and trees and Will whispering, Jim counting the times around, around, while the night air warmed to summer heat by friction of sun-metal brass, the passionate backturned flight of beasts, wore the wax doll down and down and washed him clean with still stranger musics until all ceased, all died away to stillness, the calliope shut up its brassworks, the ironmongery machines hissed off, and with a last faint whine like desert sands blown back up Arabian hourglasses, the carousel rocked on seaweed waters and stood still.
I realize that on its own, that probably seems like a very beautiful passage, but the whole entire book is like that (at least, up to page 112). I had to read this twice before I figured out what was going on (the evil, enchanted carousel is slowing to a standstill).

I do feel badly about it, though. One of the hosts (either Padfoot or Prongs) talked about having written a "love letter" to Bradbury and getting a reply and everything. Everyone else enjoyed Something Wicked This Way Comes, although one person did admit to skipping about 100 pages in the middle because all the elaborate descriptions just overtook the plot. I kinda felt like that one guy, but oh well.

Instead, I strongly recommend Dan Simmons's Summer of Night. Like Something Wicked This Way Comes, it deals with young boys battling supernatural evil in a small American town in the early '60s. It is also very evocative of childhood and has a strong theme of lost innocence. Actually, I recommend ANYTHING by Dan Simmons - check out my reviews for Hyperion, Fall of Hyperion, and The Terror. Guy is 100% pure genius.

Past Good Books Club selections:
Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut


Anonymous said...

"Her hair had the fragrance of a gibbous moon."


I'm afraid that was all I could read before I high-tailed it out of there.

E. L. Fay said...

Oh that's nothing. Read paragraph #5 on the second page.

Robin said...

I felt the same way about the book and didn't finish it either. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

E. L. Fay said...

See? I knew I wasn't crazy!

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