Lessons from My Reading

M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

What the Heck Is Fantasy Anyway? A Book Review of A Wanted Man & More

While goofing off the last month or so re-reading fantasy books I'd saved, I got caught in some existential questions about what fantasy is. Frankly I don't even care what the SFWA thinks. I'll fall back on the infamous "porn" definition. I know fantasy when I see it.

Fantasy is by definition unrealistic.  My prime example, even though bookstores don't shelves the books in the Fantasy section, is Lee Child's Jack Reacher series. Just finished A Wanted Man as a break in all the oldies I was reading. [And still itch to read]

Why do I think Reacher is a fantasy hero. How ofter do you think someone reaches into a moving car and not only grabs the the cell phone but the driver too? And, survives with their arm intact? Yet the New York Times Book Reviews will give Child and other mystery writers regular mentions but only it only reviews fantasy when it's Young Adult or written by the likes of Margaret Atwood.

In case you haven't heard, Jack Reacher is a 6'6", muscle bound, former military MP hitchhiker who gets in all sorts of trouble while he's travels around the country with his trusty toothbrush. A Wanted Man has Reacher getting involved in an FBI operation when he is picked up by some bad guys on the interstate. 

Child writes a terse style which makes the action in his plots seem faster than it is. His character development shines with an ability to make the same-old, "stock" law enforcement people into individuals. His villains are well drawn too, but often sink into cliche territory. 

Most enjoyable for me is Child's dead pan humor. An example, in A Wanted Man, he has an FBI agent copying Reacher's pattern of buying new clothes when the old ones get dirty. Only she saves her old blouse to wash later.

Again, how realistic is it for a guy to maintain basketball-sized biceps by throwing bad guys around rather than working out in a gym for hours. For me, every Jack Reacher novel is a must read ... at least until they become cliches of themselves. May that be many books from now.

An Addition

Re-discovered a gem: Katherine Neville's The Eight.  While it's been sleeping behind a bunch of other books, it's become something of a thriller classic. I reviewed it for Goodreads. [I think.] If you like cross-genre fiction with a strong fantasy element you might look at it. Warning: The plot structure is more complex than most novels written today, and it's slow to start since there's a lot of back story about a mysterious, magical incident from Charlemagne's time involving a chess set.


Updates

While I'm supposed to be a writer, I've been mainly fussing with my websites. Hope all the stubborn broken links are fixed now, and I haven't seen any typos the last couple of times I looked. 
You might take a look at the Far Isles Half-Elven site

I've put up the opening chapter of The Pig Wars ... though I may change the title to The Black Tail War. Must give the pet pig her proper due.

And a little gift for all your writer's out there if you don't follow Janet Reid, Literary Agent. Watch this video.

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