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April 26th, 2007

52 Books - #9 and #10

My reading pace, if anything, is steady. I've taken a brief break from writing (which ends today, coincidentally, as you'll come to see in a moment) because post-novel ennui hit me as soon as I finished the rewrite on Fallen and got to the point where I needed to add new material.

The break was welcome. While steady and manageable, writing a novel in 90 days (even rewriting one) taxes the mind. I'm probably more a 120-day person, so I've learned something from the experience. Which I probably noted earlier.

Book #9 was Up Country by Nelson DeMille, the sequel to The General's Daughter. A better book than the previous volume, in my opinion, though it continues the first person narrative that DeMille's favored since TGD. There were minor detours with Spencerville, which was the book he wrote immediately after TGD and then again with passages in The Lion's Game. For the most part, however, DeMille writes in the first person of late. There's a sense of cynicism and authorial commentary on the world that comes through his main characters.

I probably appreciated UC more than TGD because I came to it without preconceptions. I saw the movie of TGD with John Travolta before I read the book.

My memories of Vietnam aren't personal. I was too young for it to make a lasting impression, though my father had a cousin who lost their son in the war. He is forever a picture on the wall for me, wearing his military dress uniform, forever young, forever brave. Lost.

UC was another mystery novel, with the main character, Paul Brenner, investigating a 30-year-old murder that occurred during the Tet Offensive, but the book possessed a nostalgic tone. Battles seen through a survivor's eye, still as moving and horrifying because of the wounds left unhealed.

I remember attending a panel at Worldcon where Joe Haldeman talked, briefly, about his experiences in Vietnam. Reading something like UC or The 13th Valley by John M. Del Vecchio provide insight into the strain imposed by battle. Humanity is tested during a war, and sometimes honor and murder are two sides of the same coin.

Book #10 was The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate by Ted Chiang. The uncorrected proof arrived in the mail on Monday, sent by bdkellmer, and the only thing I'll say about it at this point (since I'm going to write a review IROSF will, hopefully, accept) is that DeMille put my thoughts into the right frame of mind. Both somber and clear.

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