Some friends have put unfair pressure on me to give fiction another stab. Grrrr. There are some authors I can tolerate- George MacDonald Fraser, for instance. But he's done so much research it might as well be a textbook. Only more fun. The series my friends have recommended (read, "insisted on") are classics in the speculative literature field.
It's been a hard plow. One of my gripes about fiction in general and the fantasy/SF subgenre in particular is that the things that should make fiction fun boil down to sex and violence... and most write as if they have never been in a fight. And only had sex with a partner once.
If someone is going to have sex with a multi-breasted ancient shape-shifting undead demoness of seduction it should be at least as good as the sex I'm used to. C'mon writers, it's called imagination. The best sex you can imagine should not fall so far below the real thing.
And, generally, they write sex far better than they write violence. 'Nuff said.
Still, the man has a way with language. Unexpected turns of phrase or strange references made me chuckle a couple of times. In a way it reminded me of Nelson Algren. Not to the same level, of course. Algren did things with the language in his writing that could be so powerful and be completely unnoticed (some of the paragraphs work perfectly as metered poetry and it doesn't distract or draw attention).
Gave a challenge to some students to read a book they wouldn't normally pick up, something from a section of the library or bookstore that is unfamiliar to them. If they do it, I kind of have to, right? So I'm 3/4 of the way through "The Picture of Dorian Gray". Sigh. Heavy sigh. What evidently passed for cynical wit in the day just seems snide and self-involved now. The things intimated as horribly corrupt and evil wouldn't shock a tenth-grader. There was a murder, finally. Maybe it will distract the point of view character from describing brocades and clothing, but I doubt it.
"Non-Violent Communication: A Language of Life" is a constant challenge. It's the kind of thing I've been writing about lately from an entirely different point of view. It's really hard for me to stay on point with this. There is good stuff here and the basic formula is workable... but it hits so many of my buttons. The rich, privileged and wiser-than-thou preaching to the unwashed heathens... and I can't help but believe that if the author had ever met one of the people in my list of unwashed heathens he would run. But his idea of unwashed heathens appears to start at anyone who works for a living. You know, sweats and gets hands dirty. What an Arab would call a fellahin.
This voice and attitude seem very common with the professional mediators and peace-makers for hire (so many of them and it seems that they account for about 0% of what little peace actually gets made). I think it might be time for a blue-collar, version of peace and understanding, coming from some people with scars on their knuckles...