Disappointing

This is what happens when you get books at charity shops.  You are swept away by their cheapness and the feeling that you are doing a good deed, and in the end you have more books than you need (I’m kidding; that’s impossible – I mean, of course, you have the wrong books), and must find a way to get rid of the books with discretion and courtesy.

I bought The Wizard of Earthsea in small, crappy hardback form, and I really had to force myself to finish it.  My mother and sister have always said it’s so, so good, and all my life I’ve felt this strange certainty that I wouldn’t like it.  But they had it at the charity bookshop, and I thought, hey, I’m probably just being close-minded like I was about The Three Musketeers and Inherit the Wind and Salman Rushdie, so I went ahead and got it, and I read it, and ugh, I didn’t like it one bit.  The main character was tiresome and nothing fun ever happened.  I mean if you’re going to be super duper powerful, something fun should happen sometime.  But nothing ever did.  So much for Ursula K. Le Guin and her seminal fantasy book.

I also got From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, which was on my list of books I really needed to buy in order for my book collection to be halfway acceptable.  And I saw Journey to an 800 Number, and when I first glanced at the spine I thought it was The View from Saturday which I also love.  When it turned out not to be The View from Saturday, I got it anyway because I figured I like three of E.L. Konigsburg’s books and maybe I would like more of them.  (The book that put me off her was Silent to the Bone.  I found it deeply creepy and upsetting, which may have been more to do with the personal stuff in my life that was happening when I read it, but after that I never read another new book by her.)  I didn’t care for this one, however.  It wasn’t bad, not creepy like Silent to the Bone, but it was a bit bland – not vivid the way Jennifer, Hecate, etc was, and not charming like Mrs Frankweiler and The View from Saturday.

I’m finishing up Disturbances in the Field.  Thoughts on that to follow shortly.

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2 thoughts on “Disappointing

  1. I wonder if you’d feel differently about the second Earthsea book, The Tombs of Atuan. Ged only shows up at the end of the story. The protagonist is Tenar, one of my favourite female characters ever, and the story is much darker and more thoughtful and intimate. I think that one of the problems with A Wizard of Earthsea is that this kind of epic story doesn’t really suit Ursula Le Guin’s writing. She’s much better at more personal stories like the one told in The Tombs of Atuan.

    Of course, she’s one of my favourite writers, so I’m more than a bit biased here. But at first I wasn’t all that impressed with A Wizard of Earthsea either. It was only later than I began to appreciate it in a so-that’s-how-it-all-began sort of way.

  2. Well, crap, Nymeth. I just returned the two sequels to the library – I checked them out for my mother and she had finished them and I returned them. If only I’d known there would be no Unpleasant Ged in the sequels. I feel silly.

    I trust you, though, because I know of your great love for Diana Wynne Jones and Neil Gaiman, so next time I’m there I will give Ursula Le Guin another go.

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