January 02, 2003

The Great Purge, Part IV

Last night I started hitting the paperback shelves really hard, and after some negotiation with Jane ended up with this list of books to be disposed of:

Magician: Apprentice, Magician: Master, Silverthorn, and A Darkness at Sethanon by Ray Feist. My feelings for Feist's work have cooled somewhat (I'm no longer buying new books), but I'm getting rid of these only because they are duplicates.

Fire and Fog, The Bohemian Murders, Emperor Norton's Ghost, and Death Train to Boston, by Dianne Day. I rather like The Strange Files of Fremont Jones; it has a brooding, macabre atmosphere about it which goes well with mist-shrouded San Francisco. I'm keeping it. But the subsequent books, as Deb English recently discovered, decline steadily in quality.

Hope's End, by Stephen Chambers. Bad fantasy/science fiction. The title is oddly appropriate.

Different Women Dancing, by Jonathan Gash. I rather like Gash's Lovejoy mysteries (though I think it's pathetic the way Gash has allowed Lovejoy to deteriorate over the years). But this book is the first in a different series, and I really didn't like it.

Rats and Gargoyles, and Grunts, by Mary Gentle. Judging by the covers and blurbs I should like these books; but though were moderately entertaining while I was reading them, they were ultimately disappointing.

The Hearse You Came In On and A Hearse of a Different Color, by Tim Cockey. Mysteries about an undertaker. The first was adequate if somewhat disappointing; good enough that I gave him another try. The second was also merely adequate.

Silence of the Hams by Jill Churchill. Got this from a friend; didn't think much of it at the time, and so there's no reason to keep it now.

Me, by Jimmy (Big Boy) Valente, by Garrison Keillor. Yeah, it was kinda funny....but I just can't picture myself reading it again.

A Dance to the Music of Time, 1st Movement, by Anthony Powell. Years ago, I used to read the rec.arts.books newsgroup regularly and profitably; it's how I found out about Patrick O'Brian and George Macdonald Fraser. Powell is another author that got mentioned regularly, particularly with respect to "A Dance to the Music of Time", a set of twelve novels in four volumes, of which this is the first. I bought it during one of my more pretentious phases, and was disappointed. Perhaps I'm not highbrow enough, but the books evoke what somebody on rec.arts.sf.written calls the Eight Deadly Words: "I don't care about any of these people."

Track of the Cat, Endangered Species, Ill Wind, Firestorm, A Superior Death, and Blind Descent, by Nevada Barr. I rather liked these books as I read them; good writing, good suspense, interesting locales. I don't regret having bought them. But it's been quite a while since then; in the meantime I haven't felt like buying Barr's newer books, and I haven't felt like re-reading them. I might regret it later, but out they go.

My Body Lies Over The Ocean, by J.S. Borthwick. This book failed for me on so many levels...use the search box to find my review, if you care.

Battle Circle, by Piers Anthony. I used to be a big Piers Anthony fan. A couple of purges ago, I got rid of almost all of his books, including this one. I regretted it later, and (though it took a while to find it) I bought a new copy. And then when I re-read it, I regretted having bought a new copy. There are some good bits here, especially in the first part of the book, but unlike Jane I don't read just the good bits.

War for the Oaks, by Emma Bull. Now this is an outstanding book--but as I have another copy signed by the author (she's a nice lady), I don't need this one.

Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. Good book, in bad condition; if I tried seriously to re-read it, the cover would probably fall off, and I hate that. Plus, I'm not sure I want to devote another month of my life to the task.

The Switch, by Elmore Leonard. I kept hearing how funny Elmore Leonard is. Maybe I got a bad one, but I thought it was only so-so.

Mythago Wood and Lavondyss, by Robert Holdstock. More books from when I confused obscurity with depth.

Soulsmith, Dreambuilder, and Wordwright, by Tom Deitz. When I first read these I was mightily impressed, and enjoyed them hugely. On second reading they were just annoying, and I couldn't even finish the third book.

Windmaster's Bane, Fireshaper's Doom, Darkthunder's Way, Sunshaker's War, and Stoneskin's Revenge, by Tom Dietz. Suburban fantasy with Celtic and Native American elements. It was interesting at the time, but I've never been able to bring myself to touch them again.

In the Presence of the Enemy, Playing for the Ashes, Well-Schooled in Murder, and A Great Deliverance, by Elizabeth George. George is a talented author, and the books were gripping. But there's not a trace of humor amid the suspense, just horrible things happening to good people, and while I enjoyed them, they made me terribly irritable. More books I've no temptation to pick up again.

The Princess Bride, by William Goldman. We have a copy of the 25th anniversary edition, so we don't need this paperback.

Wildside, by Steven Gould. I think somebody told Gould that he could break into the juvenile fiction market if he wrote a book that was politically and ecologically correct on all levels. "Insipid" doesn't do the book justice.

The Haunting of Lamb House, by Joan Aiken. I usually like Aiken's work, but this one failed to capture my interest. I found it on the shelf, bookmark in place, having completely forgotten about it ages ago.

Galileo's Daughter, by Dava Sobel. Some time ago, Deb English and I were going to try something new: we were going to read a book together, and submit a joint review in the form of a dialog between us. I'd still like to do that someday. We picked this book, which I'd recently been given, and which I really should have liked--but alas I found it desparately dull and gave up. My apologies, Deb....

I'm about halfway through the stacks; there'll be more to come.

Posted by Will Duquette at January 2, 2003 09:05 PM