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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Reading Tonight

posted by on March 25 at 10:01 AM


Only one reading today, at the University Bookstore. Terry Brooks, author of such books as The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara Trilogy and The Elfstones of Shannara. I hate these doorstopper fantasy novel Tolkien rip-off bullshit trilogy things. I’m going to stay home and read something good, instead.

Full readings calendar, including the next week or so, here.

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What are you going to read instead? I expect detail from the book guy.

Posted by nbc | March 25, 2008 10:05 AM

So stay home. Who cares if you don't like sci fi/fantasy? Who said that these authors even claim that their writings are quality literature? Maybe they embrace that they are writing things that are mostly entertainment and are cool with that. Stop being a little elitist snot.

Posted by thaumaturgistguy | March 25, 2008 10:08 AM

Paul Constant is a very negative little man.

Posted by Rotten666 | March 25, 2008 10:10 AM

But he's a very correct little negativeman.

Posted by Fnarf | March 25, 2008 10:17 AM

I love that someone is Thaumaturgist Guy.

Posted by Mike Daisey | March 25, 2008 10:24 AM

Is it possible for anybody to review books the way Lindy West reviews movies? I'm not sure. A bad book steals far more of your life than a bad movie, and has less pop-culture-referential value.

I read The Elfstones of Shannara et al in 7th grade. It was engrossing at the time. I wouldn't read it today, but to class it as "bullshit" ignores what it was for me back then.

Mr. Constant needs to decide if he's reviewing books for people like himself, or for his audience, who may be less sure of their tastes.

Posted by nbc | March 25, 2008 10:26 AM

He's actually an engaging speaker. I saw him at a reading a few years ago, and even though I've never read any of his books I enjoyed the talk he gave about them.

Posted by Greg | March 25, 2008 10:27 AM

The tone of this post reminds me why I hated high school and college "literature" classes. Way to pump up yourself while putting others down at the same time!

Posted by Chris | March 25, 2008 10:35 AM

I'm sure Terry Brooks doesn't care who he exploits to make a buck, but there was a kid in my gym class born with two elfstones and I can tell you that judging only by the shape and the sickening color, that shit has got to hurt.

Posted by elenchos | March 25, 2008 10:35 AM

No, Paul's right. Brook's book's are grabage.

Posted by CodyBolt | March 25, 2008 10:37 AM

I read this trilogy and enjoyed it. But as Cicero said, "De gustibus non disputandum est." "No accounting for tastes."

Posted by Johnny | March 25, 2008 10:51 AM

I'm not sure why you feel that you need to use this column to promote and/or demote [?] every book reading in town every night. Why not just tell us what you think is worth our time?

(p.s. this is not in any way intended to be a defense of Brooks)

Posted by josh | March 25, 2008 11:08 AM

You know, if everybody should enjoy whatever they want without any need to rationally justify why they enjoy it or why anybody else should or should not enjoy it, then there isn't any point in criticism. And no point in having a discussion about it. And the only reason to listen to the author talk is if you get off on being near minor celebrities.

So you're free to have your fun with whatever books get you off, but if you have nothing to say about why they're good, shut up about them.

Posted by elenchos | March 25, 2008 11:11 AM

I think you have to look at any genre for its good examples and its mediocre players.

While Tolkien created something original, his prose is like an encyclopedia (a real one not wikipedia.) The two stand outs in the fantasy genre are Robert Jordan (RIP) and George R.R. Martin. I respect both of these authors talents and neither has hobbits.

As a book critic, to casually write off a genre is criminal. Everyone builds off the legacy of previous greats. One of the best fantasy series I've read recently is by Garth Nix called "Keys to the Kingdom". It is a Lewis Carroll-esque adventure. Through the rabbit hole into a world of slightly unbalanced denizens. Is he riping off Lewis Carroll, no. Was he inspired by his Alice books, no doubt.

Robert Jordan is awsome by the way. I love him for his scope and characters and blow past his flaws.

Posted by Clearlyhere | March 25, 2008 11:13 AM

@2: How is this an example of Paul being a "little elitist snot"? He says he doesn't like Tolkien rip-offs; extrapolating that he's hating on sci-fi is absurd, especially considering he just spent all weekend at Norwescon. I'm sure it's really fun to just run your mouth off when you misinterpret something as a slight, but perhaps you ought to think of the context of a comment before you start calling people names.

Posted by Aislinn | March 25, 2008 11:14 AM

paul has done more to get people talking about books than i imagined possible.

Posted by infrequent | March 25, 2008 11:36 AM

@15: you get a deep sense of satisfaction out of scolding, dont you?

Posted by jon | March 25, 2008 11:36 AM


Posted by Rotten666 | March 25, 2008 11:41 AM

Paul Constant, you are such a perpetual downer. Do you even like reading? Or does it just appeal to your pretentious sensibilities?

Terry Brooks is a very engaging speaker. He came to my college some years back and spoke to our small campus writing group. He was very generous with his time even though there couldn't have been more than 15 people there. Like Paul Constant, Mr. Brooks didn't think he was a very worthwhile writer either. He wrote multiple novels for fun until his wife finally forced him to send in a manuscript.

I resent the Constant's frequent implications that all literature needs to be high art. I love pretentious literature as much as the next person, but sometimes nothing can be so pleasurable as a little indulgent genre fiction. I think to discount the purpose of these books shows a critical lack of understanding regarding why people read. Not a very good characteristic for a book critic to have.

Posted by Ashley | March 25, 2008 11:44 AM

How is any critic supposed recommend self-indulgent trash fiction? Is there any self-indulgent trash fiction that a critic should warn you not to waste your time on? You either enjoy it or you don't. But if you aren't allowed to apply criteria like artistic merit or originality or plausibility, what are they supposed to say? It has a nice cover? The author's wife made him publish this? What?

Should they tell you to show up for every single reading without any discrimination?

Posted by elenchos | March 25, 2008 12:08 PM

The issue here is not the merits of trash fiction, it is that when Paul Constant opens his mouth he frequently comes off sounding like a dick.

Posted by Rotten666 | March 25, 2008 12:24 PM

@14: Dude, that's a lot of flaws to ignore. Who gives a shit about the various liveries for the ranks of Tairen stableboys on feast days? Nobody except Robert Jordan. He used to be good until his editors got lazy and let him ramble all over. I stopped buying 3 books ago. At least when I return the final one to the library, I won't be disappointed AND out $35.

Posted by Jessica | March 25, 2008 12:27 PM

#14 Did Robert Jordan die? You said "RIP" or were you making a comment about his writing? I'm asking because I've only been waiting forever to find out how that Wheel of Time series ends.

Posted by Johnny | March 25, 2008 12:41 PM

@17: I almost threw in a qualitative reference to my "shushing school-marm" reputation, but decided against it, because this wasn't about me. It was about the fact that Paul is not an "elitist little snot," and one might disagree with his opinion on Brooks and the like, but broad claims about him committing a disservice to the genre are off the mark.

I'll give up scolding when you people stop being wrong all the time; deal?

Posted by Aislinn | March 25, 2008 1:05 PM

robert jordan did pass away, and -- as i suspected -- before he got around to finishing (or connecting) the wheel series. fortunately, i gave up ages ago. 300 pages to describe that rand doesn't know what to do next...

Posted by infrequent | March 25, 2008 1:13 PM

@ 23
Yes, Robert Jordan recently died and an another author (who had been in contact to possibly finish up the book because R.J. had an incurable disease) is scheduled to publish the last book in the Wheel of Time series in 2009. R.J. was well into the book and had extensive notes on the story arc and reveals.

He was always into extensive detail. I think the most frustrating thing is the wait between books. If all books had been published in yearly succession you wouldn't be complaining. Waiting three years, can make the anticipation too much for the result. I was annoyed with Path of Daggers, but really enjoyed Winter's Heart and Crossroads of Twilight.
Also, as the story has gotten bigger he has shown more and more minor character POVs and that is less interesting than the main characters we have come to love.

Posted by Clearlyhere | March 25, 2008 1:15 PM

"I'll give up scolding when you people stop being wrong all the time; deal?"

Ohhhh, snap!

Posted by w7ngman | March 25, 2008 1:19 PM


I kind of see The Wheel of Time like the television show Lost. It is more satisfying to watch without commercials and that I am better off enjoying the ride.

When I try to guess what's going to happen with either, I am trying to rush to the end of the series. When I am reading or watching for pleasure I am enjoying what is occurring now.

Also, each is better with re-read/watching too.

Posted by Clearlyhere | March 25, 2008 1:33 PM

aislinn, you seem to scold to make yourself feel superior and defend people on here to make yourself look superior. "leave erica alone" or "bellevue ave didn't mean that". your use of "you people" proves that, doesn't it? I wasn't calling you a name and I wasn't wrong about anything. you scold, I merely pointed it out. I didn't think it was particularly mean spirited-sounding either. why the attack?

Posted by jon | March 25, 2008 1:51 PM

@29: Whoa, I'm having infrequent flashbacks. Are you guys related?

I kid, of course. I have nothing but the utmost respect for infrequent.

Look, Jon, that wasn't an attack. The "you people" was flippant and meant to play into what you were saying. Jokes?

You also didn't merely point out that I scold; you made a broad statement to my gaining satisfaction from it, phrased in a derogatory manner. I scold or defend as I see fit because I like to see a general level of discourse around here. Note that I don't nay-say the light-hearted: it's the personal attacks and general misinformation that I take issue with. If that bothers you, well, I don't know what to tell you. It's my Slog M.O. It's unlikely to change. No one said we have to be friends.

Also, defending Bellevue Ave in anything scores me no superiority points. It's a testament to my principled nature, if anything: if he's got a good point but he's taking on water from attackers, I'll get his back. Whoa, mixed metaphors.

To paraphrase the above: me me me me me.

If you really want to talk about my superiority issues, you're welcome to myspace me. This is getting off topic.

On topic: I love Paul Constant! You guys who hate him are wrong! These books suck!

Posted by Aislinn | March 25, 2008 2:23 PM

I don't have a myspace anymore, but maybe I'll make one again Aislinn. I meant I'd merely pointed out the scolding in my original comment, not the later one.

Posted by jon | March 25, 2008 2:30 PM

I love sci fi and fantasy, but the Shannara books are the most blatant Tolkien ripoff ever. From the cute, pleasure loving little people, to the mysterious dark stranger (Allanon! Sounds just like Aragorn!) these books are so similar to Tolkien that you'd expect the estate to sue.

Skipping this was a good call.

Posted by miss_m | March 25, 2008 2:33 PM

Sure, there's ripoff elements, but Brooks has also done some pretty fabulous writing--his Scions of Shannara series was great, and I personally loved the Magic Kingdom For Sale: Sold books, too.

Posted by Ryan | March 25, 2008 2:37 PM

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