Posts Tagged ‘reading’

What’s in a name?

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

flower-rose_5xv.jpgJosh and I had a funny conversation the other day.

I have known for a while that Josh is not a particularly huge fan of the fantasy genre, and we tried to figure out exactly which parts turned him off. Is it the magic? I ask. No. Weird powers? No. The creatures? No, those are cool. The differing social structures, maybe? No.

“None of those,” he admits. “I think it’s mainly the names.”

The names?

His complaint is that you’re beebopping along in a story. You’re happy and familiar with the current characters, and then you’re being introduced to some new characters and of course none of them are named George or Bob or Roger or Amanda — they’re each an Aragorn or Akbar or Severus. I’ve heard this complaint before, and I’m somewhat guilty of the same thing. My brain’ll gloss over something if I deem it too bizarre or unpronounceable.

Actually, a group of us were all reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series in high school, and one of them asked how I pronouced one of the words. It was an important word, one I’d seen hundreds of times on the page, but even deep into the fourth book, I was at a loss — my brain had been pronouncing it something close to ‘blah’ in my head for months.

Josh read and enjoyed The Sum of David, but hated many of the names. Bear he could handle. Thor was not common, but doable. But Holder, Jameela, and Tanece? I believe his words were “Those are stupid. No one can remember that!”

And Calemadestes, a name and character of which I’m particularly proud? Totally made him want to strangle someone.

Meanwhile, if and when we get a pet in the future, we already have a name picked out: Polly. Which is short for Polamalu. Go figure.

Updates!

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

Remember when I used to blog? Wasn’t that fun? I was young and shiny-eyed, full of things to say. Now my life is a shell of its former vigor, beaten down into a murky obedience. That light in my eyes has gone out.

Just kidding. I’ve just been busy.

I have all sorts of things to share, too. I took a roadtrip with my dad around West Virginia last weekend, visiting relatives I don’t get to see as often as I’d like. This involved a lot driving, a lot of fun and a lot of food… including the Appalachian beauty that is Granny’s biscuits and chocolate gravy. Speaking of which, if you’ve heard of chocolate gravy, please tell me. I’d love to find someone familiar with it that isn’t a part of my family tree.

I went to see Marjane Satrapi, author of Persepolis, speak at Carnegie Music Hall, which was both engaging and educational. I respect anyone that says “shit” while in that marble-y, gilded-to-the-hilt establishment. The Q&A session was particularly interesting.

I’ve been working my butt off in freelance land, but I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to share in that vein, since they are secret things, GOVERNMENT* things. Between freelance and 52ills, Adobe’s Illustrator is my best friend. I just upgraded to CS4, so that’s nice, but it has yet to buy me a beer.

I’ve got plans for my studio that involve a redesign and a mural. AND I’ve started making pretty extensive notes on the conclusion of my current trilogy. I’m also reading some classic YA fantasy novels, inspired by the .50 rack at Half Price Books — I covered The Neverending Story, and I’m currently reading Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising.

I have made no progress on submitting query letters, because I don’t WANNA. This is the most current juvenile reason in a long line of excuses I’ve made to keep myself from tasting rejection.

And last, but certainly not least, Val and I have discussed resurrecting an old idea that could potentially engage the mind and excite the eyes. You know, because we don’t have other stuff going on.

*Not really. Geeze, I’m full of lies this morning. They’re just not ready.

Do What You Wish

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

neverendingstory.jpgMichael Ende’s The Neverending Story

I’ve been told not to re-watch The Neverending Story as an adult since they are dated so badly it strips the magic out of them; but I have to say the book made me want to give them another go.

As far as plots go, it’s not the most exciting — at no point was I gnawing my nails, worried about whether Bastian was going to survive, get home or stop hurting his friends — and the story maker in me did a mental eye-roll every time a new character knew who Bastian was, was familiar with his life story and knew what he needed to do in order to get him to the next stage of his adventure. When things finally did start to get good, the climax was grazed over and we went back to traveling with Bastian who was, let’s face it, not a strong and/or weak enough protagonist.

Despite its flaws, however, it was a nice little read. It was very imaginative, and had the feel of several fairy tales all strung together. The bountiful characters were all wonderfully vivid: Morla, the giant mountain turtle; the lion Grograman, the Colorful Walking Death, who turned to stone each night so that the glowing night forest of Perilin could be born out of his desert; clever Xayide, who animated her empty armored trolls to do her bidding; the Silver City of Armaganth, which floated on a lake of tears and was constructed of the most precious silver filigree; Yor, the blind and silent picture miner; Dame Eyola, who continually produced delicious fruit from her person from within the Change House; and of course the adventurer Atreyu and the luckdragon, Falkor.

In the end, I was happy for young Bastian Balthazar Bux and his transformation, especially since I’ve got a special place in my heart for the modern-child-goes-to-fantasy-realm tale anyway. It’s not a crazy emotional investment, but all in all, worth the read.