Friday 8 April 2011
I don't know if I should punch George R. R. Martin dead in the face or thank him - or both
Now that I am a working person whose job isn't in a bookstore, there appears to be a new normal, and that new normal is, so far, this: The ONLY time I have to read is on the subway to work, and then again on the subway home. That's 40 minutes each way, but 40 minutes of being jostled and harried and standing the entire time. I'm really really really really hoping that I will soon, somehow, begin to find more time for the books, because dammit, they're still my most favourite thing alongside hubby and menagerie of beloved beasties.
But about the book. I said a few weeks ago that A Game of Thrones is like a soap opera, and it is - but a soap opera that is actually quite well written, is full of compelling characters (except that stupid twit Sansa, damn her idiot eyes), and Very Exciting Happenings such as, but not limited to: beheadings, walking dead, incest, murder, non-incestuous sex, magic, dragons, and heads on spikes. I alternated between tearing through the novel and delaying reading it so that it would last longer. All was well, if stressful, for Martin is unrelenting in his unfolding of a world seemingly committed to the destruction of all that is good, beautiful, and just.
But then Martin crossed the line. He killed a character who was absolutely and without question the moral centre of the book, and killed him horribly. All of a sudden, I had no protagonist (I found the real one, in the end, I think - and wow, dragons - but I don't want to give too much away) - and I was steaming mad at him. I vowed to never read another GRRM book again. I thought of writing him a sternly worded but still passive-aggressive anti-fan letter expressing my disapproval. Then I realized - only a really good book can make you react as though the characters aren't characters, but rather that they're people that you love. And then I wondered: if Martin's characters seem this real to me, what was it like for Martin to write this book and the ones that follow? Is he unable to finish this series because his characters seem more real to him than real people? If so...I get it, brother. Don't finish it. Pull a Robert Jordan on the world; we'll understand.
So, in spite of my anger, I will read the rest of this series; I don't think I can help it, frankly. I simply must know what the flying eff is happening north of the Wall, and how Dany will proceed, and what the hell happened to Arya, and...Sigh.
In the meantime, I'm going to permit myself the pleasure of reading a very short, large fonted, wide margined book before I launch into the Victorians - by which time, I really hope working life will have smoothed out enough for me to have returned, even partially, to my regular readerly ways and therefore not take 43 years to read my 43 or so fat 19th century novels.