Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Not too long ago over on Neil Gaimon's blog someone mentioned Over The Hills To Fabylon by Nicholas Stuart Gray as an example of an excellent kid's fantasy book that shouldn't be out of print. The synopsis sounded cute, so I decided to check it out. And it was very cute. Fabylon is a kingdom where, at the least sign of trouble, the king can invoke a spell which whisks the city over the impassable mountains to safety. Unfortunately the current king startles rather easily. It's more of a series of linked short stories about the king and his (grown) children, but each one is more adorable than the last. I didn't go into sugar shock from the cuteness though, which means it managed to walk that fine line between sweet and cloying very well. And I think I've gotten way too used to looking for subtext because the hoyay was fairly jumping off the page at me. It somehow seems very wrong to notice that in a children's book, but it was totally there.


Monday, December 19, 2005

I've been leisurely reading the Alan Alda autobiography lately (I loves me some M*A*S*H) but I made the mistake of starting David Foster Wallace's Brief Interviews With Hideous Men when I was somewhere in the middle of it and got sucked into that instead. The contrast was too great and I think I broke my Alda interest because I totally don't care if I finish it or not now. My DFW infatuation continues unabated, however. Damn, that man can write. Even the story that annoyed me the most ("The Depressed Person") became almost hypnotic through the sheer awfulness of the character. I don't even know what to say about the book. The man leaves me in awe.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I picked up The Game of Sunken Places by M. T. Anderson despite thinking the description sounded way too much like a ripoff of Jumanji and every other boy-on-a-quest book out there. Basically, Gregory receives an invitation to visit his weird uncle during a school break and takes his friend Brian with him. When they get there, they find an odd board game that they discover will determine the fate of a race of elf-like beings who used to inhabit the mountains where they are staying. Sounds fairly typical, right? But Anderson brings so much to the story that it never feels tired. It is, of course, very funny, but also pretty scary and intense in parts, with a couple of nice twists at the end. I especially loved the troll and his subplot. I still think Feed is Anderson's best book, but this one aimed at a younger audience was genuinely fun and I enjoyed it a lot.


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