October 24th, 2010

Doctor Who - 10 in snow, Whu? (Doctor Who - 10 in Snow)

a book suggestion request

Tell me, o friendslist, wherein all knowledge is contained...

Suggestions for fiction books appropriate for reading in Germany?

Let me splain what I mean before you suggest.

I have often had happy coincidences of reading during my travels, such that there are certain books that may not actually be as good as I think they are, except that I read them in the right place and at the right time.

I read Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor on a bus from Bath to Glastonbury. I do not generally like cozy mysteries, and I really don't like books that pretend to be a) sequels to Austen works or b) fiction about Austen, but I have loved that series to death because of that fortuitous start to the series. The setting was key, I think, as I was high off my first cream tea and my first trip abroad. (Also, the way Stephanie Barron manages to reinterpret Jane is intelligent, and 90% of the time does not make me snarl, but rather grin. Except for book 2. Book 2 was a lot of snarling.)

I read the first of Laurel K. Hamilton's Merry Gentry series, Kiss of Shadows, while visiting my friend Stephanie in LA. The book starts out on LA before moving to the fairy courts of the midwest, and the book is inextricably associated with sitting at a random food court in the Valley while Steph attended to her tutoring before we spent the day wandering around Santa Monica. The key was also in the sunshine, the 80 degree weather, and the fact that it was February and I was NOT in Michigan. Heaven. Loved the book and series long after I left Anita Blake behind, perhaps for the happy memories alone.

I read Byatt's Possession while on a train to Poitiers. Now, it would have been better to be on a train to Britanny--we didn't hit Brittany until the following week--but it still worked because before I finished the book, I ended up in an avenue of pollarded trees growing over the ruins of what purported to be Melusine's castle, next to an old church that sold "Melumiel" --Melusine honey. It could not have been more perfect. Even though there are like a dozen Melusine castles in the world.

And those are just the times where synergy has been created, more or less, happened by accident. Sure, I picked the books before I went on the trips, but I had no real idea how strong the connection was to France when I packed Possession for my French trip, and knew nothing about where Kiss of Shadows started out... Now, I've managed to force the issue a couple of times, too, and to great success--most notably, reading Wuthering Heights for the first time while spending five days in Haworth. It's like a wonderful fever dream to me now. I had tried--and failed--to read and enjoy Wuthering Heights no less than five times in my life before that trip (I even wrote a term paper on it without successfully completing the book, or doing even more than skimming it).

So, now I am heading off into parts unknown. I don't have a literary connection with Germany. (Ancestral? Yes. Historical? Yes. Literary? Only The Nibelungenlied and... Heidi--and that book is pro-Swiss, anti-German.) I have no idea what books to take. (I know I'm taking a lot more than I ever thought possible, though, thank you, Kindle!) I'm not too fussed about it, but I kind of feel like I'm overlooking something. Is there something out there that would be perfect, that would tie itself in to my experience and just take the whole thing to a new level? I mean, besides my Charlemagne bio I'm dragging along.

I'd say the same thing for Romania, but I have combed and recombed the Romania-based English literature of the world and know how little is out there and how little of it interest me, and besides--I wrote the book that fits with Romania for my brain. And if that doesn't work, I can read Kostova's The Historian finally. (I've been avoiding the Dracula stuff. My Romania is not about Dracula. Even though it is. (It's complicated! If my book had a Facebook page, it would indeed have the relationship status of "it's complicated with... Dracula!") Uhm. I've said too much.)

So.... fiction books about or redolent of Germany? Medieval or Roman eras, Renaissance at the latest? Anyone? Bueller? German analogues perfectly acceptable if you know a great fantasy series. And I'm deeply not picky about genre, at this point.

Here's hoping my friendslist is more well rounded than me. :)
if I were me

Travelogue, 1997

I was poking around my website today to get it updated--I had, she admits shamefacedly, not even put up a link to "Five Rules for Commuting to the Underworld," and have become just like every writer I thought I despised for being unappreciative of their own success back when I was zealously link-checking my three publications over and over.... Now, of course, I remember being that writer in 2004 well enough to understand my vows and jealousies of then, but what I did not foresee is how few people were going to be caring enough to check the website and be upset that it was not perfectly up to date by the time I had the level of success I have now.

Hilariously, I considered then the position I'm in now as "having it made." When in fact it is just as fraught with worry and feelings of being unknown as it was then, just... slightly different. But the distance between there and here is uncountably long when you're there. From here back, it's extremely countable. From here forward--uncountable again.

Ah, well.

Anyway, I was poking around the site, as I said, kicking away dead links and such, when I stumbled into the old-old-old website, and my travelogues. My very first trip On My Own (not with family, I mean) to Anywhere Important was to England in 1997 with splash_the_cat. I was 22. I had mythologized travel to an amazing degree, which is why I think I'm shocked throughout the travelogue about how easy things were.

I'm deeply amused about my not understanding the insults of the bus driver, or why buses might take longer than trains, and loads of other stuff. I am so very 22 in this.

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