January 11, 2005
Demons by John Shirley
I dug this book. Somewhere between The Da Vinci Code and Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum (look at me, I figured out how to underline.) The Da Vinci Code is too simplistic while Foucault’s Pendulum is far too academic, even encyclopedic. But I love secret society, spirituality, truth-seeking books. One review called it a mini-masterpiece and I agree with it. Gave me nightmares. Humanity is pretty damned demonic so the cartoonish depiction of demons is not really all that more outlandish than how humans treat each other.
The book is split into two separate novellas, written at different times. I admit that I didn’t finish the second novella. I found myself not liking it and checked the Amazon reviews. Most people said it was tedious compared to the first novella. There’s enough to read without trudging through something. The first novella is worth the price of admission. I linked to John Shirley’s blog on the right to keep tabs on him.
I wrote to John Shirley once, in regards to my other blog, TABOTD. I’ve pretty much abandoned that blog for the time being. I’ve started writing the novel from the beginning. I haven’t thrown anything out, but what’s there is a skeleton. Shirley wrote back a curt reply, "I don’t believe in UFOs," which seemed like a dickhead reply from someone who writes science fiction laced books. He is a good writer, I’ll give him that. I got some pretty cool responses about that blog. Charles Tart, Paul Krassner, and Douglas Rushkoff all wrote back.
I also got David Mitchell’s Number 9 Dream out of the library. I don’t know how far I’m going to make it with this one. It seems like another one of those novels that writes around its subject rather than writing directly. It seems over my head when I want it to be in my head. On page 9 came this sentence: "I act a young man driven by flattery failure into digging a deeper pit." What? Is there a word missing? That’s when I put the novel down. I’m probably not trying hard enough. I checked the reviews on Amazon again and most people said that they loved Mitchell’s writing but couldn’t get through this one. I’m not done with Mitchell by any means. I’d like to try Cloud Atlas or Ghostwritten.
After that I picked up Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. It’s kind of too simplistic in the other direction, but it’s readable. What is it about mainstream, supermarket-type novels that they seem to flow like water and you forget that you’re reading? That’s not always a good thing. I have the same experience with weightier mainstream books like Richard Price’s Freedomland. I’d like to read something by Gaiman so I might just finish this one.
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