Sunday, March 1, 2009

Clarion reading list, part 3

I'm sure many books were mentioned in the last three weeks, but, for some reason, I don't have them written down. I think this might be a result of a brain that was getting rapidly overstuffed.

WEEK FOUR (with Neil Gaiman)

1. Drowning By Numbers by Peter Greenaway
This one is a film and not a book, but Neil mentioned it as an example of a strange and oddly structured story that fulfills the only real rules of storytelling (which are: you don't bore your audience, and when they get to the point where they're finished, they feel satisfied and not cheated).
2. Peace by Gene Wolfe
3. The Infernal Desire Machines Of Doctor Hoffman by Angela Carter
Also: Nights At The Circus and The Bloody Chamber
I read Nights At The Circus a couple of months ago and found it both absolutely glorious and extremely discomfiting. The ideas (a woman with wings, a humble reporter, circuses and trains, dancing clowns, snowed in wilderness, a wild musician...) fit into all of my own particular fascinations and delights; and the way those ideas are melded into a story is remarkably believable and beautiful. However, the shadows are very deep and there is no flinching away from letting bad things happen to decent people, or tidying them away into a nice balance of deserved and undeserved.
4. "The Gardener" by Rudyard Kipling
This story is enigmatic and brilliant, and I won't say anything more because it's much better if you read it for the first time all unaware of what's going to spring at you.

This interview with Alan Moore, done by Daniel Whitson was also interesting. He says some brilliant stuff about story and about plot, and how the two work together.

The next two books were mentioned in a lecture on anthropology that we had with Thomas Levy:
4. Journey To The Copper Age by Thomas Levy
5. Archaeology: Theories, Method, and Practice by Colin Renfrew and Paul Bahn

WEEKS 5 & 6 (with Nalo Hopkinson and Geoff Ryman)

1. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Geoff used an excerpt of this for his lecture about plot and story. The way Roy structures her story is fascinating. She fractures the chronological order of events and presents them in a layered, circuitous fashion that propels the reader along an emotional narrative and shapes their reaction to the bare bones cause and effect of plot.
2. Adulthood Rites by Octavia E. Butler
3. "Field Study" by Rachel Seiffert
We looked at this story as an example of the use of setting. It's spare and quietly written, and even though it's about our own, ordinary world, the stillness and precision of it gives it a very foreign quality.

Geoff also told me to outline the plot of The Golden Compass and The Remains of the Day so that I could try to learn how stories get put together into functioning narratives. It's a slow exercise, and a bit tedious, but very interesting and useful all the same.

And that's all I have. I'm sure there were many, many more that I've forgotten.

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