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Jan. 6th, 2008

Yesterday - Spent a truly tedious evening with T., Ch. and another friend of T.'s with boring board games & such (alcohol might have helped but wasn't offered), because I made the mistake of picking up the phone when she called on Wednesday to invite me after I'd successfully managed to dodge the flat-warming party (no loss; the new flat is quite as tastelessly furnished & decorated as the old one, only on more square meters). An evening full of wasted words, pointless conversation. If I'll have to listen to T.'s story about the OMG!horrible foreigners who use the phone booth under her window too loudly and too late at night once more I'm going to scream. Possibly throw a few of her painted porcelain figurines (that's what she does for a hobby, paint porcelain figurines; also small copies of Botticelli paintings) out of said window. Granted, it's probably a bit annoying, but it doesn't excuse the subtle or not-so-subtle racism that coloured the conversation every time the subject of Turkish (or other) immigrants was touched upon. What always astounds me is that I got along really well with these people during university. We traveled together, had fun together... Now I'm always shocked by their increasing close-mindedness, their repetitiveness, their lack of... anything to inspire or be inspired by. Have I changed so much? Have they? Am I being arrogant?

[/ aestheticist elitist bitch mode] m'sorry.

Didn't even go out with the camera today because I decided I needed a lazy, peopleless, phoneless day at home. In a brief burst of energy I did an hour of belly-dancing practice; it felt good to exercise my body again, but it left me disproportionally tired and with Sunday afternoon depression beginning to settle in. Crawled back into bed and continued to read Leyla by Feridun Zaimoglu, which (so far) has been compelling with a language that is absolutely stunningly beautiful.

I've also picked up Jane Eyre again recently, which I haven't read for long enough to appreciate it with a fresh eye & mind.

It's been mostly re-reads lately, in the weeks before Christmas Clive Barker's Books Of Blood (there's a bit of irony in that, I guess) and after that Coldheart Canyon, mostly because it's the novel that I remembered least except for a vague impression of not liking it over-much. I'm still not very taken by the beginning (Barker IMO is extremely good writing about the bizarre, the mysterious, the horrific, the transcendent, but not so much when it comes to describing the prosaic facts of real life), but it isn't a bad book at all. And how many (male) authors are that kind to overweight obsessive female fans and make them positive (co-)protagonists? (I'm looking at you, Stephen King...)

It reminded me why I like(d) Barker so much; he has a spiritual angle and a positive edge to his work that I really appreciate. I may have mentioned before that I've read pretty much everything by Stephen King during my teenage years until at one point I suddenly got tired of his brand of horror and after that never was really tempted to explore Clive Barker's work even though his name repeatedly bleeped my radar, partly because I'd lost interest in the genre and partly because of King's 'the future of horror' quote. But maybe one notice books when it's the right time in one's life for them, and I'll always have a special fondness for Sacrament, which turned out to be a bright spark when I desperately needed it. King is better at frightening people, IMO. Granted, I was much younger and would probably see things differently now, but I put It outside the door of our apartment once because I wouldn't sleep in the same room with it. I can't say anything about his more recent work since I've never touched any of the Dark Tower volumes, but in my mind I've put it like this - King's writing, the fear he creates, slams shut the doors of the mind and imagination while Barker's pushes them wide open.

Even in the Books of Blood and the early novels which are more purely horror than his later work there is this underlying positive edge; his protagonists' desire to give themselves to the mysterious. (Not something King's characters really aspire to; their aim is to destroy the manifestation of evil, and, if they come out of it alive, go back to as normal a life as possible.) The opening chapter of the Books of Blood makes it seem as if the dead that wander these otherworldly highways do so in a state of eternal pain and anger; in the closing chapter it's revealed that theirs, too, is a journey towards the mysterious, the unknown, towards revelations.

I think I've said/written that before too, but can't find the apparently untagged entry [note to self... ::sigh::], in Barker's biography his partner is quoted saying that people 'don't know the real Clive, who's a soft, gentle soul [...] People don't see the sensitive side of him.', which I find almost surprising, because I'd believe that in a heartbeat. Not a problem at all. It's in all his novels, if you don't focus exclusively on the horror/sexual elements, but on the story that is told, and how it is told.

Then, while I was waiting for alex_beecroft's Captain's Surrender (which is brilliant and I absolutely recommend to anyone with an interest in the Age Of Sail and m/m romance) to be ready for download I downloaded Lee Rowan's Ransom (another Age of Sail m/m romance which I'd seen positively recced somewhere, so I thought how bad can it be)...

Well. Not bad as such, it's well enough written and if the language is a bit too flowery and vague for me to find the sex hot, that's neither here nor there, but a bit... boring. I usually don't bitch about fanfiction, however sorely tempted (coughTorchwoodfandomcough) I might occasionally be (*), because it's supposed to fun & a hobby, there's a back button on my browser, and mostly I'm just happy & grateful that there are so many often tremendously talented people who are putting their stories on the net for free. And having two characters kidnapped and putting them in a prison cell for the duration of 200+ pages to let them figure out their attraction towards each other is a perfectly acceptable plot for a slashfic, but seems a bit thin for an actually published novel. (Then again, I rarely read published romance - maybe this is not as uncommon?) But that's probably the problem, because the whole thing is rather obviously a thinly disguised Hornblower fanficion. She'd already pretty much lost me a couple of dozen pages in when she used more or less word for word the question from Hornblower's failed examination for lieutenant, which left me wondering for a good while if anything else I was reading wasn't original either. Probably not, since I didn't recognise anything else from the movies, but I haven't read the books, so... it kept nagging at the back of my mind, and maybe was part of the reason why the characters never really managed to gain a life of their own.

Maybe the plot picks up in the last third and I'm being horribly unfair, but around page 200 Captain's Surrender was finally ready for download and I haven't been interested enough to more than skim a few further pages since.

(*) On second thoughts I'll make an exception since I seem to be in a bitchy snarky mood today. Forget the omniprevalent OOCness; I've read fic (twice, even, I think) where Jack is joking with Ianto about feeding the pterodactyl during a post-coital cuddle (or even during sex; I forget). Now personally I think reminding Ianto of the scene that is probably going to haunt him for the rest of his life would be the ultimate mood-killer and even Jack wouldn't be that callous or oblivious, but apparently mileage varies even here. Or Ianto insisting on showing his True Love by wanting Jack to fuck him without a condom. Jack Harkness [v.2, that is; v.1 would probably have been moderately safe], of all people. The other fictional character right up there on the Better-Safe-Than-Sorry-With list smacked his boyfriend upside the head and called him (if I remember correctly; at least it was something along these lines) a stupid twat for suggesting as much.

Also [::points to music::] - pretty awesome, and probably not something I'd have picked up in a record store anytime soon. It took me a while to warm up to iTunes and routinely buying music by downloading it instead of in CD format (LPs. Tapes. Videotapes. I feel old sometimes.), but... definitely warmed up now. :)


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 7th, 2008 04:09 am (UTC)
I wish you'd said no to the friend whose flat-warming you didn't want to attend. You'd have had a better evening. (My life is much less complicated, now that I've started practicing saying no to people.)

Tonight I watched the finale of a Masterpiece Theatre presentation of "Jane Eyre". I haven't read the book in eons, but I love the tale as much as ever. I don't normally watch anything remotely romantic, but I was glad to watch that one.
Jan. 7th, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
I agree with wlotus. I've long ago given up saying "yes" to every social function I'm invited to just to "get out of the house" and "meet people". I've finally accepted that I'm just not that interested in "people" (except if they are the right people, of course), and if that makes me an antisocial monster, then so be it.
Or, alternatively, if you find you can't say no for whatever reason: drink alcohol *before* going, and bring some along.
Jan. 7th, 2008 07:42 pm (UTC)
Or bring alcohol, get very drunk, smash and/or insult ein paar von den scheusslichen Porzellanfiguren & die Wohnungseinrichtung (du machst dir keine Vorstellung.... bei einer 80jährigen Oma würde ich das gerade noch verstehen) and never be invited again. *g*

The problem with saying no is that my mind automatically switches to guiltguiltguilt!! - for disappointing someone, for being anti-social, etc.

But I *will* practice.

Jan. 7th, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC)
That's definitely something I need to practice.

I did manage to dodged the flat-warming party, it was before Christmas and I was a little sick and a lot tired, which my mind accepted as an excuse, but when she called me last week... I'm a bad liar, and I can't lie at all when I haven't got time to prepare myself, so, since I didn't actually have plans, I agreed. Simply saying No / I don't want to / I'm tired / I need time for myself never seems to be an option because part of my mind insists I'm being rude / they'll be disappointed / won't like me any more / etc.

*sigh* Most definitely need to practice.
Jan. 7th, 2008 08:04 pm (UTC)
I hear you. I once passed on a friend's birthday gathering, and she was so incensed we ended up not speaking for nearly a year. (She and I are speaking, but we are no longer close.) That is always a possibility, depending on how extreme the person is with expressing their sense of being entitled to your presence. However, my world did not end, she did not die, she was not harmed, and I got the rest I desperately needed that day. It takes practice to say no, though. I'd been shakily practicing for awhile before this situation came up. A year or two earlier, I don't think I could have handled it.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


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