December 8th, 2000, 07:28 PM
King of the Lurkers.
Anyone read this Author? I've managed to get a hold of a few of his paperbacks (4 Books of the New Sun, and two books of the Soldier)..
Any thoughts? I've heard that the Book of the New Sun is supposely excellent, and very very different from the norm. Part of me is scared to read it due to the expectation of it, and perhaps that I will be disappointed with it. I really dont know what to expect.. What I have read, the writing style is, well, elegant..
December 9th, 2000, 12:27 PM
\m/ BEER \m/
I read Book of the New Sun a couple of years ago and I liked it a lot. The story is told in the first person by Severin the Torturer.
I don't want to give anything away that may spoil the story, but it is very thought provoking. It is somewhat of a blend of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
As much as I liked and it is considered a *classic*, there is a good amount of crticism that it is a tough read.
I recently gave his LONG SUN books a try, and I could only get through the first book.
December 16th, 2000, 07:22 PM
FitzFlag is right, the Book of the New Sun are brilliant, if a little sureal at times.
Tha author really should have left it at that, but he wrote the Book of the Long Sun... BORING!
October 26th, 2006, 07:16 AM
I've read a couple books from Wolfe. The Knight and Free Live Free. Both books were struggles to get through and both suffered from a lack of a cohesive theme or milieu. I regretted both reads, quite frankly. That said, I heard Book of the New Sun was quite good. I'm not sure if I'm willing to take anyone's word on that. Wolfe, while playing head games, often forgets to craft a compelling story with sufficient tension and resolution, and it feels like he is too busy juggling inferences to bother "saying" much of anything.
His work so far fails to register much on an emotional or psychological basis for me.
I'm not sure what else to say.
October 26th, 2006, 08:39 AM
Not getting the whole unreliable narrator concept seems to cause a lot of Wolfe woes.
October 26th, 2006, 08:43 AM
I get the concept
Just most have done it (the unreliable narrator) with more savvy and better writing. Having an unreliable narrator doesn't mean that the "apparent" narrative can't be more entertaining or the mysteries more enlightening or intriguing.
His writing as a whole is often quite bland.
And yes I get what he is attempting.
I just don't find much of interest in the result.
October 26th, 2006, 10:07 AM
Well, of course it just goes to what you like in a novel. I had the same problem with Wolfe - I found him kind of tedious, like LeGuin. Of course in one sense, that's not fair - Wolfe isn't trying to excite you. He isn't going for cheap thrills and a spirit of adventure. He's crafting a work of many layers that requires thought and that you can read and reread many times. And, in fact, I also find Doestevsky and Faulkner tedious in the same way. I like cheap thrills.
But that's why whenever I see a full-on love affair post about Wolfe, I feel someone should add that he isn't for everyone. If you don't want to ponder the deeper meaning of a paragraph and just wish the f***ing executioner would get to the town he is heading towards, you probably will be disappointed with the New Sun series.
October 26th, 2006, 10:25 AM
What I look for
I look for books that make me reconsider my own world. I enjoy depth and layers and subtext---and exercises in philosophy that most might find boring. In fact, I often regret the cheaper thrills of other novels. Not that something can't be intelligent AND visceral. But Wolfe plays games for the sake of games, not for meaning. This just leaves me empty because, while crossword puzzles are fun, they don't do much for the soul. His writing feels devoid of true emotional and spiritual investment. And more is often made of his inscrutability than is actually there. One of the easiest things in writing is to be obtuse.
His mechanics are good, though. The man CAN craft a good sentence. I'm just not sold on his narrative grasp or of a deeper purpose in his work.
October 26th, 2006, 10:33 AM
You are right
You are right in that Wolfe just may not be my cup of tea.
There are many who consider him a genius, and many of those people are pretty damned qualified to make that association.
I just reserve the right to disagree.
October 26th, 2006, 10:36 AM
But no author is for everybody, so why should we have to say it for Wolfe?
It actually never occurs to me that people don't or wouldn't like TBoNS, it was so engrossing and readbale and, essentially, perfect that it honestly doesn't filter into my brain that people that like words and reading and story wouldn't like TBoNS. I can understand they may not like Wolfe's short stories, and some of his other work, but TBoNS works brilliantly on so many levels that whenever I hear someone complaining about it I have the same stunned reaction I get when someone chirps up to say Shakespeare isn't all that, or Doevestoyevski needs to lighten up, or maybe the Iliad needs a punchier pace.
I see the same thing written about Mervyn Peake, he's too slow and dense. I like junk reading and light reading as much as the next person but, when I see criticisms like that, I have to wonder how many people out there really have the attention span to appreciate anything beyond the most unchallenging of plain style works.
And a brief qualifier: I don't think everyone who dislikes Wolfe is stupid, or illiterate, or that there aren't legitimate reasons not to like any of his works. It's just that my head spins when someone could possibley think TBoNS was boring or slow going -- yet in some cases these are people that buy the enormous bricks of turbid and bland prose sold by certain popular fantasy authors?
October 26th, 2006, 10:38 AM
@Ranke: check out TBoNS, it's his opus, I think you may find depth there that you did not in the other works.
October 26th, 2006, 10:56 AM
I think you're right. I'm not sure it is fair of me to discuss his writing when I haven't read what people consider to be his "opus".
I based my feelings on two lesser-known books, and from what I've seen, he does change his style from story to story.
I'll pick it up and give it a go.
October 26th, 2006, 11:06 AM
I haven't read The Knight yet (it's sitting on my shelves until I can buy The Wizard), but from what I've read about it, the writing style is extremely different from most of Wolfe's work. So definitely try something else. I've read and extremely enjoyed The Book of the New Sun as well as The Fifth Head of Cerberus, as well as one of his short story collections. I think Wolfe's catalog is varied enough that there will be something for everyone.
October 29th, 2006, 04:54 AM
While I like Mervyn Peake, I didn't care for Wolfe's books. So I don't think that argument is valid.
Originally Posted by Ward
I've read The Wizard Knight books and Peace. I didn't hate them really, but he has a disconnected writing style that wasn't my thing.
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