For My Next Trick

I will read a book.  No, really, I will.  But with purpose!  As a brief aside, it is moments like this where I wonder if this novel writing hobby isn’t really just a very creative excuse to read more books.  I suppose I could have finished grad school and followed the original plan to become a Professor of English and actually get paid to read and write, but somehow that would have been too straightforward.

Getting back to my main point (I think it’s more engaging when I pretend to have one), today I am going to read China Miéville’s The City & The City.  And by today I mean that is the one productive task I have assigned to myself for the day.  For some reason I like to do things in big chunks – write 6,000 pages in a day, read 311 pages in a day.  It just works better for me that way.

The reason for this particular book is that Liz (one of my friends from my Writers Group) recommended it to me after reading the second draft of my novel.  She included the amusing caveat of “I know sometimes it’s annoying when people say `you should read such-and-such, it’s exactly like what you’re trying to do’, but I can’t help it.”  Really, I don’t mind since I have a mild addiction for books.  I guess if I was a famous writer and lots of people did this all of the time it could be annoying, but fortunately for me that’s not the case.  Note-To-Self, aspire to the goal of having so many people recommend books it becomes annoying.  Beyond the caveat, she makes a particularly compelling case for reading the book as “a good example of a hard-boiled detective story that takes place in a super bizarre place, a setting that is a lot like our world but is just different enough to be interesting and disturbing. He does a fantastic job of balancing the detective story and investigation elements with world-building and drawing the reader in, and really making the strange setting serve the plot and help build tension.”  Interestingly, my novel is a detective story set in a world a lot like ours, but with some interesting differences.  So it makes sense to me to see how Mr. Miéville does his world-building and what I might learn from it.  Check back later for Post #2 and see if I can fulfill my daring commitment to read this book today AND write something about it.

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2 responses to “For My Next Trick

  1. I hope you’re enjoying it! Both the China Mieville books I’ve read were fantastic examples of thorough worldbuilding, and I try to keep his work in mind when I plan and write, as a reminder that worldbuilding is the foundation of good speculative fiction. Plus the City and the City is just good reading. (In the case of the other one, Perdido Street Station, I thought he got carried away and spent too much time on the world and its creatures, at the expense of character and tight plotting.)

    I actually like to hear what other works my stories remind people of, since it confirms (or denies!) that I’m conveying the style I want to convey. I say it’s sometimes annoying because I also fear that my work isn’t original enough – but it’s good to know what my influences are so I can conscientiously deviate from them.

    • I am enjoying it, both because it is a good example of worldbuilding and an intriguing story. He also does a decent job of building characters.

      Don’t get me wrong on the comparison bit, I find it pretty cool to have someone tell me my work is kinda like a “real published author’s” and I want to read it for the same reasons you have. If you have other suggestions in the future, don’t hold back.

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