John Crowley, Little, Big (1981)

little-big2The last book from my Summer Reads list, winner of the World Fantasy Award, nominated for Hugo, Nebula and Locus for 1982. I actually had it all summer, and started reading it, bit by bit, sometime in September. But it’s a huge book, 538 pages in really small print, and I managed to finish it only recently (a couple of weeks ago, to be precise). In some respects it reminded me, albeit only vaguely, of Tim Powers. There is that similar sense of uncanny in the real world, hidden in plain sight, not mentioned or noticed simply because most people don’t have the necessary apparatus (both physical and mental) to find it out. However, in more respects Little, Big reminded me of Susanna Clarke and her brick of a book, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Crowley’s work is similarly meandering and slow, and pacing itself with infinite patience (which I, regrettably, don’t possess :P). But it’s also somehow… accruing, contrary to Clarke’s novel, where things just happen in a given order; accruing not as much in the area of action (there’s almost none), but more in the sphere of sense. It actually builds itself up from the foundations set in the beginning – explaining the inexplicable, casting light on the shadows that seemed impenetrable – which, slowly and incrementally, makes the final result all the more appealing.

As you can see, that long and meandering style is contagious. I will try to keep my sentences short from now on, but I can’t vouch for the success of this endeavor :).

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John Crowley, Aegypt (1987)

History has always fascinated me. And I don’t mean an occasional Discovery Channel documentary. Serious stuff, during university days going a bit into the theory of history. Just a few courses, I was a sociology student, but still. And as a guy with such strange tastes I loved Aegypt. I’ve also read it’s a favourite of lit majors with affinity for ambitious genre books. And it’s included in Harold Bloom’s Western Canon (appendicies )!

I mean, it’s not a book for everybody. And I’m not judgemental here, it’s just that nothing much happens, there is no great conflict, and the very genre-ness of the thing is questionable. Maybe that changes in later volumes of the tetralogy, here we have some clues, guesses, but all the actual magic/religion is in quotes from fictional novels…

Hmm, it’s part of Fantasy Masterworks series that Gollancz publishes 😉


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My Summer Reads A.D. 2016

My vacation is coming, so instead of a full review a short list of recommendations.

I don’t really know why, but my summer readings tend to be rather heavy – SF, military fantasy, everything that is long and massive and emotionally wringing. Everything that I don’t have much time to read during the year. This year I plan to read quite a few heavy, massive doorstops, and a couple of classic SF novels. Starting with grimdark favorite The Darkness That Comes Before, going through SF/fantasy mix with fairies, Little, Big, and on to classic SF: Flowers for Algernon and A Canticle for Leibowitz, below’s my list of summer readings.

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