Opened my pictures library, and sooo tempted to put that photo of Qui-Gon up instead of the TCWT bubble… Anyway.
Prompt: “What are your thoughts on reading or writing books in non-novel formats? Are there any you’ve particularly enjoyed?”
6th – http://www.ch1con.tumblr.com (Post will be published at night on 3/6!)
8th – http://irisbloomsblog.wordpress.com/ – Iris!
15th – https://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/ – Erin!
23rd – http://miriamjoywrites.com/
25th – https://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/ – you are here.
27th – https://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)
Oh yeah. I mean, NaNoWriMo is great and all (who pronounces it nano-rye-mo, who nano-ree-mo? Which is right? Does it even matter?) but there’s so much more to books than just novels.
Let’s say I’m reading a great many non-novel books just at present – but, they’re mostly textbooks. I’ve thought long and hard about this prompt, even spent part of a truly dull math lecture on it. So far as I can gather, John didn’t mean textbooks. I can think of a few ways of telling stories outside of novels, so I’ll go over some of those, and some other stuff I like reading.
There are long ‘epic’ poems, of course. (Epic in quote marks because ‘epic’ poems do not meet my usual definition of the word.) I’d risk putting ballads into this section as well, and some of them are pretty good, but the age of the ballad died with Chaucer, the swine! Sir Gawain did not deserve what Chaucer did to him in the Wife of Bath’s Tale. I have read precisely one half-decent Middle English poetic story: it was about Robin Hood and Allan-a-Dale. (Unfortunately, I read Middle English with a slight Dutch accent – not good.) The main trouble with narrative, non-mystical poetry is that it is devastatingly easy to let the rhyme rule the story. And when one can find no rhyme for ‘lady’ but ‘baby’, it ceases to be ‘a harmless rhyme’ and develops ‘very ominous endings’. (Kudos to those who can place the quotes.) So on to greener pastures.
I do very much like reading playscripts, perhaps because I am still working to overcome a tendency to include far too much dialogue in my stories. Shakespeare, however, is not the master in this field. I would be inclined to spread the title out over a few authors. Oscar Wilde for his delightfully witty but sharply observant society plays. G.K. Chesterton for his ‘fantastic comedy’ Magic, which really lives up to its title. Dorothy Sayers for her The Man Born to be King or her Four Sacred Plays. Christopher Marlowe for his impossible blending of haunting and humor in Faustus. Henrik Ibsen for his The Wild Duck and The Master Builder. (Don’t really like his most famous, The Dolls’ House.) Plays are written to be performed, but if a casual reader picks one up, the performance is just staged in their mind palace, nest-ce pas? I like screenplays too, but they are diabolically hard to find, and the ones I’m most interested in reading… the page version is quite different to the final screen version. Usually involving truly cringey deleted scenes, though it can be interesting to learn what Han Solo was meant to say.
Some nonfiction books make good recreational reading: I’m rather partial to fashion manuals, on the basis of Billy Joel’s advice for living: go by the book, read it, then throw it away and do your own thing. I love autobiographies and memoirs, but can’t stand regular biographical writing. It usually either grovels, or digs up dirty little secrets. Either way, faugh. Oddly enough, I like philosophy and theology – not the smarmy how-to-live-the-triumphant-Christian-life handbooks, because nobody can do that, but doctrine and apologetics. C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and Erasmus are my favorites here.
Finally – yes, that means I’ll shut up soon – short stories. ‘My field’, if I’m going to be grand. Shorts come in two ways: themed, which is by a variety of authors in a single volume, or as single-author anthologies. (Of which Against The Shadows is one.) Personally I prefer the latter, because individual authors tend to have a personal style which the reader can like (and readily find more of) or loathe (and readily avoid). Themed collections are only useful for the times when you have completely exhausted the patience of your librarian as she informs you for the nth time that there are no more books by so-and-so because you have read them all. Turn to a collection, find a new friend. That’s how I ran into Roald Dahl’s adult short stories, Annie Proulx, and Saki, by the way. Shorts are good for if you are too tired or too short on time to concentrate throughout an entire novel.
I’ve just gained access to the most comprehensive (and incomprehensibly coded) library in town, complete with enforced silence, floor-to-roof bookshelves on three floors, and plenty of secluded desks, corners, and piles of beanbags. So no doubt I’ll find a lot more books in all the categories I’ve mentioned and then some.
Thanks for reading.