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19 October 2008 @ 11:34 am
once upon a time, people weren't so self-righteous  
Beauty, Sheri S. Tepper

Well. That sucked.

And I was so inclined to like it, too.

The beginning was wonderful! The retelling of the fairytale - I could have read it forever.

And then. It was, okay. It was like chatfic, where people outline what could happen in a story rather than actually write the story. That's fine for chatfic. This isn't chatfic. I couldn't feel sorry for Bill's death because I never truly met him; I couldn't support Giles' and Beauty's ill-fated romance because it was so slightly alluded to; and in the end, the whole premise was so dorky, so unbelievably middle school, that I ended up rolling my eyes in disgust. I know she can do so much better than this, because I've read it.

It suffered from Origin Story Fail - or, as my friend Shane and I like to say, abusing the G-word. The Holy One verses the Dark Lord? Give me a break. I think she wanted it to be about more than traditional religious tropes, but she couldn't think up her own trope, so she fell back on them in the end. What was the point of the fairies? What was the point of the CAT?

This book is heading for twenty years old, as far as I can tell. I wonder if she still feels as hopeless about the fate of humanity now as she did then. Living in the world now, as the only one I've ever known, I can't say I share her despair. Maybe that's why I didn't enjoy this book.

Previously, on Book Glomp 2008:
Middlemarch | Invisible Monsters | A Thousand Splendid Suns | Love in the Time of Cholera | Oscar and Lucinda | Kim | Breakfast at Tiffany's | Atonement | To the Lighthouse | On the Road | Brideshead Revisited | Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance | Bonjour Tristesse | A Passage to India | Three Men in a Boat | Vile Bodies | Prozac Nation | The Heart of the Matter | Jinx; Airhead | Doomsday Book | The Gum Thief | Choke | The Stone Gods
Current Mood: crappycrappy
Current Music: so what (pink)
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every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: converse prettyscoradh on October 19th, 2008 10:55 am (UTC)
Which one was it? Because I thought Singer from the Sea and A Plague of Angels were all right, good enough actually, which accounts for my heinous disappointment NOW.
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every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: Bookishscoradh on October 19th, 2008 11:06 am (UTC)
Oh, I couldn't get very far in The Fresco because I felt it was poorly written? That was my main beef with this, because I can go 'eh, whatever' sometimes with the worldview presented if the actual writing is decent. Which it wasn't.
Anna Fugazzi: OMGannafugazzi on October 19th, 2008 03:19 pm (UTC)
Doh. Shri Tepper was one of my very most favourite authors in the whole entire world for a couple of years. I read her Gate to Women's Country during an exceptionally bad time, and for some weird reason it helped me through. Must have re-read it about forty times that year. Everything about it was so perfect: the imagery, the dialogue, the characterizations, the civilisation she invented, the interweaving of three different timelines/plotlines, the huge surprise near the end, the subtle foreshadowing... damn.

Was looking forward to reading more of her stuff once I had the time, and panicked that it looked like she hadn't written much.

Don't remember what I read next (think if was Singer) but I remember thinking, "Huh. She did such a fantastic job in Gate, but this one feels like she's writing from the same plot formula. And not doing as good a job at it."

Next one. No idea which. "OK, this is pretty much the same as the other two. Except for the fact that it's... kind of stupid."

Next one. "Oh, hell, no. What the shit is this? Same goddamn plot. And ugh. The writing. The bobbing heads that mean absolutely nothing - wtf? Why did I read all the way to the end?"

Last one. First chapter: "Oh for ****'s sake. Here we go again." Second chapter: "I will never get back the half an hour I wasted on the first chapter." ::chuck::

So yeah. Adding my dismay at Sheri Tepper. Freaking brilliant writer... for one book. ::sigh::
Jain: domestic dragonjain on October 19th, 2008 05:29 pm (UTC)
I really loved Gibbon's Decline and Fall when I read it...oh, eight years ago, I think? But Beauty didn't do much for me, either.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: daisiesscoradh on October 19th, 2008 08:16 pm (UTC)
I don't know; I think Beauty is just not one of her better works.
kestrelsparhawkkestrelsparhawk on October 19th, 2008 07:05 pm (UTC)
I love Shari Tepper, though I REALLY disliked Beauty because it was so... painful. I've read all her works now (I think) and I and the friend who introduced me to her have figured out that every other book's a really good one, and every other book's predictable. My own rl novel is actually very much a response to "Gate to Women's Country" because although it's always nice to run into feminism, what she set up as a utopian solution simply filled me with moral horror.

She's quite creative on political details, I think, but any bad guys are predictably men. The book notrafficlights mentions is probably The Family Tree, which I enjoyed a lot, so I'd bet taste and political bent affects one's reading.. . and of course, the space one's in.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: bandsscoradh on October 19th, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Tepper

I've read Singer and A Plague of Angels, which I liked a lot. I'm kind of dumb; if I don't recognise the purported ethos in the first five seconds, I give up. I did like the idea that the only way humanity would achieve lasting peace was by making people forget the past. I think I'll try a few more, but I hope they won't let me down as badly as Beauty.