Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Dust Cover Dust-Up 2014: Round Three, Part Two

A Civil Campaign vs. Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand

Winner: A Civil Campaign

This isn't that difficult. Samuel Delany's Stars in My Pocket etc. had mostly stayed in the competition because it was so interesting, even if I was never quite convinced it succeeded as a science fiction novel. But I respected the experiments and was sucked in by the language play. Bujold's books may be much more straightforward, and they're certainly more rousing yarns, but that shouldn't be mistaken for shallowness. There's always more going on underneath the ripping good story. Of all the Vorkosigan books I read last year, I think this is my favourite.

Long Walk To Freedom vs. How The Light Gets In

Winner: How The Light Gets In

I feel bad about this choice, picking a mystery over Nelson Mandela's autobiography. However, it comes down to this. I liked Long Walk to Freedom quite a bit, but I was struck with how impersonal it seemed at times. That's fair - Mandela's under no obligation to tell us all the personal details of his life. But Louise Penny's mysteries are all about the personal in ways that get to me strongly. And this was the most personal and difficult of the series, and I can't cut it from the competition quite yet.

Republic of Thieves vs. Camera Obscura

Winner: Republic of Thieves

I'm a little surprised that Republic of Thieves has gotten this far in, as it wasn`t my favourite of the Gentlemen Bastards books. But on the other hand, Scott Lynch can tell a hell of a story, and maybe not the best is still a hell of a lot better than a lot of the other books I've read. As for Camera Obscura, it was fun, and I liked it more than the first book in the series, but it can't measure up to Locke Lamora.

The Imposter Bride vs. The Robber Bride

Winner: The Imposter Bride

It's the battle of the delinquent brides! And not incidentally, of Canadian literature written by women - one from a giant in the field, the other from a relative newcomer. And you know what? The newcomer takes it. I liked Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride a lot, and the writing was exquisite, but there was just something about the quiet pain and consideration of Nancy Richler's The Imposter Bride that got to me more deeply.

Mirror Dance vs. Black Swan Green

Winner: Black Swan Green

I have put through a lot of Lois McMaster Bujold books till now, and some will keep on making it through. But as much as I liked Mirror Dance and its musings on family and brotherhood and command, Black Swan Green was just so poignant and unsentimental. British youth in a wheel of the year filled with both good and bad and inconsequential all at the same time. David Mitchell, you do write good books.

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