Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones

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Sunday afternoon, headachy

So I finally finished Carter Beats the Devil. I'd heard it was fantastic, and y'all may remember my interest in stage magic late last year, but... I read the opening section, liked it, and... just couldn't go any further. I just felt tired, I don't know. Sometimes I just develop strange aversions to things--"aversion" is too strong a word, even. It's just an inability to continue, or even to start. Usually this is in terms of writing, or books or movies--I meant to see this movie, I meant to read that book, I never got around to it. I've come to feel like that tends to happen for a reason: I'm just not ready for whatever it is yet. When the time's right, I'll come back to it. Apparently the time was right for Carter Beats the Devil, because I picked it back up yesterday afternoon, almost felt too tired to bother, and then proceeded to read straight from three in the afternoon to one in the morning.

A lot of times, a book will be so good that it will make me want to write. "I can do this!" I think to myself. Not in a bad way--"God, how did this get published? I could do this"--but in the most positive way possible, creativity sparking off example like flint on steel. Other times, a book will be so good that I sort of inwardly despair at ever being able to do anything like that. Carter is one of those books. To be fair, I think I was depressed mostly by the sheer amount of research that clearly went into the writing of it; I've been poking around my preferred era of history since I was thirteen, and I still don't think I could marshal what Glen David Gold says (in the afterword) that he put together in five years. I get the same feeling from The Crimson Petal and the White, as maddening as I find the ending--a kind of massively detailed verisimilitude I envy but despair of matching. But then there's Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart books, which are infinitely shorter than either of those two, and tell just as good a story with more economy of historical detail. So... turning right back to the front of Carter Beats the Devil and reading it again probably isn't a good idea, is it?

(There were actually two points in Carter where I started gasping aloud. You know how in The Neverending Story--the movie, I mean--the boy is so relieved at some point [the sphinxes?] that he practically passes out? Yeah. That was me. I actually had to stop reading for a couple of minutes. That was the first part [page 586, paperback]. The second part was page 633. And while we're handing out page numbers, can someone tell me if the penultimate chapter is supposed to stop mid-sentence, or if my copy's just weirdly cut off?)

Meanwhile, I'm back on Black Ribbon, trying to hash out a new opening, and it's like shoveling coal. The ideas are good, but the execution is awful. I'm to the point where I'm just trying to get the roughest possible representation of what I want and then keep moving.

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Tags: alabama is the center of the universe, black ribbon, cuba, harry potter, his dark materials, writing
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