Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Diana Wynne Jones 1934--2011

I think it would be remiss of me to go without mentioning the death of one of my favorite fantasy writers of the last century--Diana Wynne Jones, author of Howl's Moving Castle, the Chrestomanci series, and The Tough Guide to Fantasyland.
Jones died on the twenty-sixth of March from lung cancer, which she had been diagnosed with in 2009.  I believe she left one book unfinished, but I'm not sure.  I did read that they will be releasing her last book, as well as a book of interviews and what-not sometime later on in the year.
I hope I have made it abundantly clear as to my tastes in this blog, but in case I have not, let me say again, I am not a fan on modern literature, with few exceptions.  Jones was one of those, being one of the few living authors I maintained a fondness for.  Now, of course, she no longer fits into that category.
She was born in London in 1934, the child of two educators.  She moved several times throughout her childhood, beginning with an evacuation to Whales right after the second World War was announced.  She studied at St. Anne's College in Oxford, where she attended lectures by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.  She graduated in 1956, the same year she married John Burrow.
She was author of many different novels, spanning several decades and only ending at the time of her death.  She won the Guardian Award in 1977 for her book Charmed Life, the first in the Chrestomanci series.  Though, perhaps, she is most famous for her novel Howl's Moving Castle, which was made into an animated film by the brilliant Hayao Miyazaki, though it was a loose translation.
Her influence on fantasy can be seen in many of the writers who came after, most notably J.K. Rowling and Neil Gaiman.
At times like these many people like to say the literary community has suffered a great loss, but I feel differently.  Jones gave us many wonderful novels and while she will be missed, she led a very accomplished life.  While the fantasy community might not be better for the loss, I feel it would almost be a discredit to act as if her death was a tremendous blow.  Rather than focus on what she could've accomplished had she lived longer, I think it would be more to our benefit to focus on her vast achievements.  I do believe, however, that the fantasy community is sorely lacking in writers of such a caliber.
I highly recommend anyone who reads this that has not read Jones' works to go out and find some.  She is extremely enjoyable.  While not my favorite author by any means, she never disappointed.  I'm looking forward to reading more of her works next year.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Oh, yeah--I had a birthday too.

It's been over a week since I hurt my back and went to the emergency room.  I moved out of my apartment on Monday, though I could do very little to help with the move.  I got a new job on Wednesday.  I'm not taking anymore prescription medication.  And frankly, I don't remember much of last week.  Everything is kind of in a haze, but to be fair, I was pretty doped up on pain killers the entire time.  I would be right now if I still had some.  Well, I do, but you aren't supposed to take ketorolac (toradol) for more than five days in a row.  It's the hyrdocodone I'm out of.  I've been taking ibuprofen, which does not work nearly as well.
Let me just say, I'm ashamed of how little reading I've gotten done considering how much time I spent in bed last week.  I've been reading, on average, about twenty pages a day, I'd say.  It's hard to comprehend what you're reading when you're essentially high, especially when what you're reading is written in the Queen Anne style.  I was thinking that Henry Esmond seems really hard to follow compared to Thackeray's other works, but it's probably the drugs.  Maybe I'll reread it sometime when I'm not constantly impaired.
I've been downloading more music than anything else.  Probably because I wake up extremely early.  Before everyone else, so I just look up music and wander the internet.  Eisley has a new album out that's pretty amazing, and I'm been listening to a lot of MC FrontalotNerdcore is the only hip hop I'll listen to.  I've downloaded about twenty-five albums in a week.  I have to say, just to get it off my chest, I've been listening to the new Hellogoodbye album quite a bit and it's rather good.  This maturer sound they've developed is refreshing.  It's poppy, but not in the dance punk style they used to have, which had long since grown stale.  It sounds more like The Format.  Hell, I even downloaded a William Shatner album.  I was surprised by how much I liked it.
All this staying up late and waking up early shit has got to stop.  Granted, two Saturdays ago--the day after my fall--I slept for nearly thirteen hours.  But I woke up at 5:00 in the morning and stayed up till around 1:30 AM, only to wake up four hours later in extreme pain.  It's been about the same routine since then.  No matter how good I feel during the day, I always wake up around 6:00 or 7:00 with my back feeling completely awful.  Right now is the worst my back's felt at night for a while, but that's probably because I haven't had a pain pill since 7:00 this morning.  Plus, I took a nap after work, and I always feel worse after sleeping.
This post seems in no way coherent to me.  That's the way I've been since the fall.  I have a hard time concentrating.  But maybe that's me blaming my accident for how I've always been.  I have had memory problems.  Not real issues.  Just not as quick on the draw as I usually am.  My wife says I should be back to speed in a little while.  Once I'm completely off of any medication, probably.  Hopefully in a weeks more time I'll stop pausing for two minutes trying to remember something I should have readily available in my mind, and stop filling my sentences with "uh's," "um's," and "I can't think of it right now's."  No brain damage or anything.  Don't worry about that.  I didn't hit my head when I fell, and my new job is at a hotel I worked at before and after three hours of refresher training I was running the shift on my own.  So, my mind is fine, just running a bit slow is all.
Hopefully this doesn't set me back on my reading list, esspecially considering I added a few books to it, I still plan on reading all five of Dickens' Christmas books in December, and I have another big move in five months.  We'll see.  I'm only on nine out of forty-one, and seven of those were in January.  I was hoping to have Henry Esmond done by the end of February, but "there's many a slip between the cup and lip" and all that.  I love that expression.