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01 November 2008 @ 07:50 pm
R.I.P. Challenge books #6 and #7, and wrap-up  

Yesterday I finished book #6, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I liked it, but not as much as I did Coraline.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAfter someone has murdered his family, a toddler is taken in and lovingly raised by the inhabitants of an old graveyard. "Bod" is to stay there until he is grown and it's safe for him to go and live in the outside world (because his family's murderer is still out there and wants to finish the job).

The first chapter and last two chapters were very good, I thought. The ones in-between felt a bit uneven. There were some improbabilities that bothered me: f.e. when Bod goes into town to sell a jewel, because he needs money to buy something for a friend. He is 8 years old, has never been outside the graveyard, has never seen money or shops — how would he know where to go, what to say, what to do? Also, in his reasoning he often seemed older than he actually was.

I thought it was a pity that none of the dead were really scary. Even the ghouls were rather comical, with the Bishop of Bath and Wells giving me a right Blackadder moment. The only threat to Bod's existence is posed by living people. It gave me the impression that the book was written for a slightly younger age group than Coraline was.

I didn't much care for Dave McKean's illustrations, I think I would have preferred Chris Riddell's (was that the UK edition he did?). Something I did like: the way the dead are introduced by what's written on their headstone, f.e.:

'Bod's left ankle was swollen and purple. Doctor Trefusis (1870-1936, May He Wake to Glory) inspected it and pronounced it merely sprained.' (p.96)

All in all I give the book 3/5.

#7 is not a book but a short story. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson is a mere 6 pages long (in print-out). I read it this morning, so officially it doesn't count I guess, but let's pretend that in the U.S. it was still 31 October, even if it was after midnight.

I already knew The Lottery from a film I saw on TV, but even if I hadn't I would have seen what was coming from a mile away. Still, it was a good story. I've nothing to say about it that hasn't been said a hundred times before. 3/5

So this wraps up the R.I.P. III Challenge for me. This was my initial list:

Shirley Jackson: We Have Always Lived in the Castle — read, 3/5
A.A. Merritt: Burn, Witch, Burn! — read, 2/5
Poppy Z. Brite: His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood and other stories — read, 1/5
Shirley Jackson: The Lottery — read, 3/5

Albert Sánchez Piñol: Nachtlicht (La pell freda/Cold Skin), and
A.M. Homes: The End of Alice — still going to read these two, as I may not wish to keep them and desperately need to make some room on my shelves

Wilkie Collins: The Woman in White — saving for winter
Marghanita Laski: The Victorian Chaise-longue — saving, for the next R.I.P. Challenge perhaps?
W.F. Hermans: De donkere kamer van Damokles (The Darkroom of Damocles) — saving for now

Not on my list, but also read (and bought, ack!*):

Chris Priestley: Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror, 3/5
Neil Gaiman: Coraline, 4/5
Neil Gaiman: The Graveyard Book, 3/5

Also watched the TV film of The Woman in Black — not as scary as I had hoped/feared, but very atmospheric and nicely done; 3/5.

Having so many books as yet unread, or read so long ago that I don't remember a thing about them, I am rather spoiled for choice. A challenge like this helps to narrow down my choices. I really enjoyed the R.I.P. Challenge and I'd like to thank Carl for hosting it. I hope to join again next year!

*It had not been my intention to buy more books, and having no place on the shelves for these three, I made a firm resolve not to add to the pile until I had gotten rid of a respectable number. Next thing I know I'm reading an email by Persephone Books informing me that the new catalogue and Biannually are on their way and my first reaction is "Ooh! Ordering time!"
Somebody save me.

Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: Yuri - Oi Va Voi
Mnemosyne: thinking_lethe_ on November 2nd, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC)
Might that be because he was raised by the graveyard inhabitants

I have thought about that. Could be, but I don't think so. Interestingly, I came across another 3/5 review that said that Bod seemed the same age throughout. Whether as a toddler or as a teen, she could see no development at all.

so I went to the library and took out 10 books

10 books! If you do something, do it right, right? :D

I haven't received the Persephone stuff yet, but I do have a wish list and I've allowed myself to make an order twice a year. Theoretically, that could mean as many as 7 books at a time: 3 new Classics and one book for which I already have the bookmark from the Book Depository, and 3 books with £3 discount directly from Persephone. (Un)fortunately none of the new Classics (already shown on their website) really appeal to me (except that I just read another glowing review of Mariana, and the cover is so nice, oh well), so it will be either 3 or 4 books. Of course I don't have to order straightaway...

Actually I meant save me from buying more books, but your challenge is interesting! I may try it when I need help choosing my next book. At the moment I'm good though: just started Cold Skin, The End of Alice to follow, and for bedtime reading The Case of the Missing Books. I've made good headway in that while in Canada, but when I came back I wanted to finish the R.I.P. Challenge first. As a mystery it might have qualified, but I think it's a little too cosy for that (although poor Israel may not agree with me, knee-deep in chicken shit that he is).
And after that, there's December and seasonal reading, fairytales, myths, and The Woman in White. :)
heartofdavid: greenkittyheartofdavid on November 3rd, 2008 02:44 am (UTC)
0 books! If you do something, do it right, right? :D
Yup! :D

I got:
Phyllida and the Brotherhood of the Philander - Ann Herendeen
Rose's Garden - Carrie Brown
The Cure for Grief - Nellie Hermann
No Choice but Seduction - Johanna Lindsey
Of Men and Their Mothers - Mameve Medwed
The Rope Walk - Carrie Brown
Real World - Natsuo Kirino
The Chains That You Refuse (short story anthology) - Elizabeth Bear
Harry, Revisted - Mark Sarvas
Ancient Highway - Bret Lott

I went with the objective to get some books for mom (the Johanna Lindsey book is something she'll read but I won't), and then got caught by all the tempting books. I recently read "Lamb in Love" by Carrie Brown and loved it, so I grabbed two more of her books - currently reading "Rose's Garden" which I'm not enjoying as much as Lamb due to the slow pace. I've wanted to read more Elizabeth Bear but her books that were available were all from series (which I wasn't in the mood to start), so I decided on the anthology. I really like Kirino's "Grotesque", "Real World" is her new one. Then I kept filling my red canvas library bag until it couldn't hold any more. XD The lending period is 3 weeks - if I care to renew, I can do it from my computer at home. I'm also reading the Herendeen book right now, lighter diversionary read, a regency bisexual romance, lol - might sound silly but it's actually pretty good.
heartofdavid: bulldogheartofdavid on November 3rd, 2008 02:52 am (UTC)
And after that, there's December and seasonal reading, fairytales, myths...
Will these be part of challenges, or something you've decided upon for yourself?

Oh, keep forgetting! I had some other books in mind regarding the R.I.P challenge, some good horror offerings, but I didn't remember them until today. :P Thomas Tyron - The Other, Robert Marasco - Burnt Offerings, and anything by Karl Edward Wagner. Wagner's stuff can be WAY out there (bizarre situations but empathetic characters), and difficult to find. I'd recommend his short stories - a good collection is "Exorcisms and Ecstasies."
Mnemosyne: thinking_lethe_ on December 9th, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC)
I see I totally forgot to reply to a number of comments. Sorry!

I haven't heard of ANY of the authors you mention, how sad is that? Only Elizabeth Bear sounds vaguely familiar, but I might be confusing her with another Elizabeth, a chick-lit author?

I will remember these horror books for the next R.I.P. challenge, thanks! I hope my library has them. *MustNotBuyMoreBooks*

Will these be part of challenges, or something you've decided upon for yourself?
I've found out there is actually a challenge for these books, also hosted by Carl, but it takes place in the spring and I consider fairytales, myths, and the like to be real winter fare. Every winter I try to read at least one title. F.e. The Lord of the Rings, The Norse Myths, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, but also The Folio Book of Christmas Crime Stories and wintry classics like Dead Souls. You get the idea. This year, definitely The Woman in White. :)