I sometimes wonder if it’s any use for anyone other than Susanna Clarke to write stories. At the very least, it seems, one should have an English education. And be very, very hardworking. And have a powerful imaginative grasp of the things one loves.
Ahee for those of us who are inwardly impelled to do things we aren’t truly brilliant at.
Here is one of Clarke’s short stories available for free on her website. It’s reading for an entire day, not because of its length but because of its content.
As soon as I get my e-reader I’m going to buy Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell for my very own – I usually get it from the library but at our new location we do not have access to libraries. This is the fantasy book I read every autumn. I’m also going to buy her collection of short stories, The Ladies of Grace Adieu which I have yet to read. I’m certain great pleasure awaits me.
Yes, I read my favorite fantasy books once a year. In the winter I read Narnia; in the spring Lord of the Rings, and in the summer Harry Potter. Everything else scrambles into the chinks.
Interesting: the writers of my favorite fantasies are an old Anglican, a Catholic, a Presbyterian, albeit one with somewhat disoreded views of sexuality (Rowling) and a former Methodist. You might say I’m an ecumenical reader.
I did end up reading the first two books of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. It’s as everyone says, pretty much. The whole story is a great big opportunity to retell the events of Genesis 3 from Satan’s point of view. (Which, need I say, is hardly a truthful or good one but Pullman doesn’t seem to realize this.) I will read the last book in the trilogy if I can do it without spending any money. They are beautifully written, shades of “hath God said” and “thou shalt not surely die.” The alternate worlds are gorgeous and sights of insight flash through. He does grasp, for instance, why people want to worship a god. He acts like someone who is gently pulling a shiny knife out of a baby’s grasp aided by the promised substitution of a lovely pink rattle.
This post keeps getting longer and longer.