Lori's Book Nook

Archive for November 2006

Have you ever picked up a book by Sheri S. Tepper?

Known for her women-centered novels, like The Gate to Women’ Country (1988), Tepper’s writing is so much more than her early feminist sf roots. Oh, all of her books expand upon themes that are obviously dear to her heart — women’s issues, the environment, the evils of religious extremists — but her writing is so much more.

Her books are virtually indescribable.  How do you explain a book in which such unusual events take place?

“Well, her book Grass is about this planet where, uh, there are these things like, uh, horses, but they’re not horses, see? They’re malevolent beings that take control of their riders…”

Merely describing a Tepper book makes it sound so flat, so lame. But she can truly make it happen, make you feel the wonder, and the fear, along with her characters.

I just finished reading (and re-reading) her book The Visitor (2002) — a pre- and post-Apocalyptic story of magic and religion.  I was trying to explain it to my husband, in terms he would understand: “It’s like Terry Pratchett meets Stephen King.” Very off-the-wall unusual things happen, and it’s quite scary in spots. Again, inadequate.

Most of her books are stand-alones (very important to many readers, in this world of series after series) — even the books in series (like Grass (1989), Raising the Stones (1990), and Sideshow (1992)) are often essentially stand-alone.

Warning — to truly appreciate the book The Family Tree (1997), do not read anything about it prior to opening it up. You’ll ruin a wonderful moment if you get a spoiler.

As many of you have heard, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority has stated that while they

“…still strongly discourages students from using anything other than full English, but that credit will be given if the answer ‘clearly shows the required understanding,’ even if it contains text-speak.” (CNN)

So, essentially, this is a concession to students that may have a grasp over the topic, but in the pressure of the test, may forget that r is actually spelled are?

Ever hear of audience? Register (Linguistics. a variety of language typically used in a specific type of communicative setting: an informal register; the register of scientific discourse. Source.)?

What the hell are you doing, allowing a whole generation of young people to get away with a casual social register as their only form of expression? Hey, every group has its own jargon — that’s fine. But it’s not brought into the broader social sphere, or the general workplace.

Those kids that take the Qualifications Authority up on this concession may discover that those doing the marking may not actually be able to read text-speak.

Stick to learning to spell. You may need it for the rest of your life.

So I’m reading a short story, Expiation, by Edith Wharton…probably, unfortunately I realize now, the first piece of her writing I’ve ever read, and a line just makes me burst out laughing:

“Though the trials of married life have been classified and catalogued with exhaustive accuracy, there is one form of conjugal misery which has perhaps received inadequate attention; and that is the suffering of the versatile woman whose husband is not equally adapted to all her moods. Every woman feels for the sister who is compelled to wear a bonnet which does not “go” with her gown; but how much sympathy is given to her whose husband refuses to harmonize with the pose of the moment?”

I love my husband dearly, but he does sometimes lack a sense of what’s really going on…So I can commiserate!

I’m going back to continue reading this story — had to pause to share this with you all.  Very good so far, in that Victorian fiction tone of understatement and false modesty. Wonderful.


Book Discussion Pages

Here on the Book Nook you can discuss: The Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, as well as the next two books in the Deptford Trilogy, The Manticore and World of Wonders, and if that's not enough for you, see what's up on the forums at BookTalk.org!