starlady: (abhorsen)
Except, of course, it was the dogs who were shot first. I just saw Ari Folman's animated documentary "Waltz with Bashir" with my friend Stacey and it was as excellent as I've heard. The animation is gorgeous, first of all, but the story itself (about the filmmaker trying to piece together what he did as an Israeli soldier in the first Lebanon War) is incredible. Folman doesn't pull any punches, and he doesn't particularly spare anyone; I for one agreed with his choice to end the film with documentary video footage as opposed to animation, since I think that too many people still think animation = fantasy, and what happened in Lebanon (including the massacres in the refugee camps) is all too real, if all too familiar.

I just read two books each by Sarah Monette (aka [livejournal.com profile] truepenny ) and Robin McKinley. By Monette I read Mélusine and The Virtu, and by McKinley I read Chalice and Sunshine. Monette first, since I have more of a bone to pick with her (yes, and not just because of that whole race/privelege/non-white characters brouhaha that went down last week, which is extremely interesting [some people would rightly filet me for using that adjective] and dare I say important for everyone to read; I'd recommend [livejournal.com profile] metafandom ). To summarize bare-bones, the books are set in and around the eponymous city of the first book's title (every city in fantasy after China Miéville owes so much to New Crobuzon) and follow the travails of the gay wizard Felix Harrowgate and his half-brother Mildmay (the) Foxe. Monette has said that she wrote the books to explore the figure of the Byronic hero (Felix); well, as a reader of Byron (and a lover of Manfred in all its obsessive silly despair), I find it extremely interesting that Monette's Byronic hero is a) gay and b) a victim of severe childhood trauma and abuse in just about every form. And a mostly former drug addict. I find it very interesting, and perhaps a bit disturbing, that this is how Monette feels she can wrestle with the Byronic type, by giving him this sort of absoultely wretched past. Manfred by contrast has had the world on a plate, and I can't help but feel that Felix's black rages are just a bit odd given everything. That said, Mildmay is amazing; his parts of the story literally had me in tears at times. I would read about Mildmay forever. A final thing that gave me pause in these books was Monette saying that she wanted to gesture towards American-izing fantasy; well, I think that takes more than mentioning buffalo and alligators in passing, particularly since all the worldbuilding is bits of Greek and Roman and ancient Near Eastern whatnot. I'm a classicist too; I can track what she's doing, and while Monette is fairly inventive up to a point, I don't buy it as anything more than a gesture. That said, the character of Mehitabel Parr is pretty awesome, and I hope she features more in The Mirador and Corambis, which come next.

As I said, by McKinley I read Chalice and Sunshine. I realized after finishing Sunshine that they're essentially the same story--a retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" in which the female hero uses her affinity with an unusual element (honey in Chalice, sunlight in Sunshine) to win her Other-ish lover and the day. Sunshine involves vampires, while Chalice is set in a completely other world; I would say Sunshine is the better book, but Chalice is perhaps more intriguing. I recommend both of them highly.

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August 2017

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