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Sunday, December 21, 2008

mystery sounds

Yesterday, on the way back to NYC, exhausted and weary, I spent a few minutes browsing in the chain bookstore in Union Station. I was feeling sad, as well as tired, and didn't feel like reading the feminist fable I'd brought along for the trip. A good mystery would maybe solve my problem. I decided on Fingersmith by Sarah Waters after scanning row after row of rather-gouge-my-eyes out fiction. Promptly upon getting comfortable in my antiseptic-smelling seat, I entered ye olde pool of drool land, instead of Waters' world. I guess I'll save the award-nominated lesbionic historical mystery fiction for another dank day. Have you read it?

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Today I felt barely better. The drizzly day and oversleep left me craving a good story, preferably one set in a land far away. Luckily I subscribe to Escapepod. After an only ok jaunt into space and mirror worlds, I decided to listen to a story by Michael Swanwick, a Philly writer that lives in my parents' neighborhood. In high school, we read some of his work in a seminar class on science fiction. Public school can be awesome, friends. Anyway, while I admired the inventiveness of his work, I was annoyed by the recurrence of what I found to be cliched sexual moments clothed in scifi duds and the recurrence of an idealized male character that dies tragically, only to be reborn somehow. Boys, boys, boys, so important! Ugh. In fact, when he visited our class, I asked him about it. I don't remember his answer. (Not all of his work is like this, at least, not that I remember).

It has been years since I've read any of his work. So when I saw his story, described as a ghost story or a locked room mystery or maybe detective fiction, I was intrigued. If it was bad, at least I'd have something else to brood about besides my own funk. Since audio fiction is really made by the reading, I was wondering how Swanwick's slang-ridden prose would translate off-page. I needn't have worried-- the reading by Cheyenne Wright was an example of how finding the perfect reader can elevate hearing a story into a fully absorbing entertainment.

So do you need a little engaging distraction from your rainy-day woes? Maybe a little sleuthing? Maybe some ogres? A Small Room in Koboldtown is the fantasy story for you.

3 comments:

Amanda said...

Fingersmith...read it...there are excellent scenes occurring during violent rainstorms.

Carrie said...

Sounds good, my friend.

looka said...

Thank you for bringing this one up Carrie! I can use some well read listening now... not only because it also rains like crazy here.