Sunday, January 21, 2007

 

Jack Vance

My next blog entry will undoubtedly be about myself, as usual... but why not have a short break from the egotism and talk about something else? Keep it in the realms of literature, of course, no need to go off at too sharp an angle. Remain businesslike. Say nothing about how I went for a long run today, felt better for it, went to the pub with Huw, saw a band, met a lovely girl called Sinead, drank beer, walked home...

Jack Vance is one of my favourite authors, and has been since I was 17 or 18, when I first read The Eyes of the Overworld, perhaps the most perfect fantasy novel ever written. Even then I was aware that Vance's irony was perhaps too pure, too perfect, so I shunned his books for many years, and during the whole of my 20s and most of my 30s I read not a word of him. Two years ago I started afresh. What a glorious homecoming! Big Planet marked my return, then I re-read the whole of the 'Dying Earth' sequence, followed by Showboat World, the 'Durdane Trilogy', and the 'Planet of Adventure' series...

Waiting in boxes, I still have Night Lamp and the three 'Alastor' novels to go, and after those I will endeavour to obtain the five 'Demon Princes' books, the three 'Lyonesse' novels and a selection of recommended stand-alones, Emphyrio, The Blue World and The Dragon Masters among them. Then I'll probably collect and read the remainder of his 60+ books, but at a less frenetic pace... Vance has became one of those flavours like vanilla that I just can't seem to get enough of... And that's from a man who hates sentences that end with the word 'of'. Like that one. And the one before.

What I like so much about Vance is the momentum of his writing, his colourful style, his witty but formal dialogues, his understanding and advocacy of the best old values, his wry angle on politics, his genuine interest in ethnography and sociology, his obsession with music, his gallants and rogues, his circular plots, picaresque narratives, his skill with neologisms and metaphors, his sense of the absurd, extravagant and mystical.

I guess if I rubbed a bottle and a literary genie came out and said, "you can have the entire output of any author," I'd choose a complete set of Vance. Indeed I would! The work of the genie would be considerably eased by the fact that the complete works of Vance have recently been issued in an integral edition. This looks so good. I want it. But I'll probably never have it. Ah well.

Comments:
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Yeah I like pretty girls.
I don't like spammers though!
So bugger off. You bloody bastard.
 
Vance indeed is great. I recently discovered him too. In order to ease your pain about not being able to obtain the V.I.E., how about this?
 
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