Ajax Bell

Author of the Queen City Boys books

dreams, books, badness abounds

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I had crazy stress dreams about moving.  Though this is a common theme for my stress dreams, it’s pretty clear where these came from. My loud, awful, crappy indie rock playing neighbors are moving out. Well, apparently they were supposed to move out by Saturday.  As far as I can tell they still aren’t out. From what I hear the new neighbors (two gay boys) We’re supposed to be moving in now -ish, but have to wait for the fuckheads to finish getting out. Anyway, I dreamt I was moving into some place I’d lived before (it looked like a combination of three places I’d had in Seattle), and I got half my stuff in only to discover the prior tenants hadn’t taken half their stuff, so I had to do all this work to move it outside, to fit my stuff in.  Then I realized I’d forgotten to tell my previous place that I was moving, so I had to come up with double rent.

Ugh, ugh, ugh, but on the plus side, in the dream, I had a job that sent me to the Caribbean occasionally.

This weekend I read Perdido Street Station by China Mieville. It’s the first Mieville I’ve read, and I have to confess, I don’t get what all the fuss was about. Maybe this simply wasn’t the book to start with, but I found it fairly tedious.  The whole elaborately created world was great and all.  Some of the characters were likable, and one even seemed to have something of a transformative journey (although unfortunately that coincided with making him unlikable to the reader). But over all the world building was a little sloppy.  There was no history of the place explained, which made it much harder to believe how such place could have come to exist. There were several places where the author directly went against previous statements he’d made about characters.  It was, in my perception, rife with little flaws.  And I can often over look that for good story-telling, or amazing world building.  Here, in this book, instead it just made me become increasingly annoyed through the whole book. the resolution at the end left much to be desired. Indeed there was little resolution at all.  Most characters had their lives completely destroyed, and the one seemed to have gone through some transformative sense of self turned out to be irredeemably bad, or at least didn’t seem able to understand the crime he’d initially paid for, and while accepting his punishment, he seemed more resigned than actually comprehending his crime and his punishment.  Over all, pretty much unsatisfying.  Also Mieville’s world here, while fascinating and quite clever at times, was pretty nightmarish. It felt so grim as to be entirely without the things that make city life wonderful and enjoyable.

As I do, I went a read the Amazon reviews after I’d finished the book.  I take some weird satisfaction in finding out if other people agreed with me.  The best one there starts “Overwrought, under-thought” which pretty well sums up the entire thing for me.  I mean, I didn’t hate it as much as that reviewer, but man, I’m feeling really unsatisfied after having waded through the muck of the entire book. Someone else said, “Five stars for imagination, two and a half stars for execution.” Which is perhaps a better description of how I felt about the whole thing.

Now I need to make my to-do list for the next few days.  And get lots done.  LOTS AND LOTS. So I wil feel satisfied with my days off. Vacations are for extra productivity, dontcha know. Although mostly what I want to do is pick a up book a know will be good and read Perdido Street Station right out of my memory.

Can someone tell me, are Mieville’s other books better? Did I pick up the one bad one? Or should I just skip all of them?

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