Apr. 20th, 2009

juushika: Photograph of a row of books on a library shelf. (Books Once More)
I've been reading a lot, lately; I've been reading a lot, lately, of novels from small publishers and anthologies. Many of these books are truly amazing, but my patience is swiftly running out for the dreaded typo. It's not that mainstream large-publishing-house novels don't have typos, but I suspect they're more common in these smaller works—and I suspect, too, that I'm just getting better at noticing them.

Because they are everywhere. So ubiquitous, in fact, that I've begun to name them. Soon, I'll begin marking up books to correct them.

The misplaced quotation mark: On the wrong side of a period, or else missing entirely. I finished a short story a few minutes ago that had three missing quotation marks in the space of six paragraphs. This is probably the single error that I see most often, and I know how easily it can occur, but I can't forgive it—it screws up the flow of the story too damn much.

I do not think it means what you think it means: It's a word all right, but not quite the one you were looking for. A poem from a few days ago read "strange" where it meant "strangle" and, trust me, it was a bit—strange.

It's vs. Its: Honestly it frightens me how often I see this one. It appeared in one story that had been published twice before, and republished in the volume I was reading—how along the line was this error missed, or else who added it? I've yet to see any their/there/they're or to/too/two errors, thank goodness, but it's/its bugs me an awful lot—not because I don't make it, but because when proofing I'm very careful to correct it.

The formatting error: Stray punctuation, stray spaces, accidental keystrokes which must not have come up on the spell check but can still confuse the reader. I'm likely to forgive this sort, because they must be easy to make and they occur quite rarely.

The missing word: An accidental click or delete which isn't visible to a spell checker but can make a sentence nigh incomprehensible. This is the one that I saw corrected in a library book, with the reader marking a possible "they?" in the middle of the nonsensical sentence.

ETA: The missing line: Another accidentally click or delete which removed or rearranged not just a single word but a whole bunch of them, making a good chunk of text nigh incomprehensible. Unlike their siblings above, these I can't forgive—they are such huge errors that they can destroy a paragraph.

Ah, but the books are worth the typos anyhow. The anthology I'm neck-deep in right now is incredible, and opening up a whole new world of authors. On that note, I really must catch up on reviews sometime soon.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Today (yesterday now) I had the incredible chance to go to one of the Palimpsest release parties slash performances slash book signings. I knew when I first heard of these that they would occur across the nation, but never expected that they would come so close to my home. When I found out a few days ago that they would be performing in Oregon, I mentioned it to Devon—and bless him, we made it to the Salem performance.

It was beautiful.

The book was Palimpsest (my review of it is here)—the story of four strangers drawn together in a magical, sexually-transmitted city. The author, Catherynne M. Valente/[livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna, read from the book—her voice is as deep and rich and nuanced as the world that she has created. She chose passages from throughout the book: November's list, the tales of the trains, the teahouse, Camiria on the beach, each one renewing my love for that character or that scene, each making me anxious to reread the whole book. Paired against the readings, S.J. Tucker/[livejournal.com profile] s00j performed, mostly songs from Quartered: Songs of Palimpsest. I've fallen in love with Tucker's recordings, but her live performance exceeded all of my expectations. "You'd never expect so much sound to come from such a small person," the boy said. Her voice is vast, and delicate; accompanied by acoustic guitar, or Valente's readings, or pre-recorded backgrounds which layered her voice against itself into echoes, she made music bold and live and wild in that small room above a bookstore. Afterward, Valente signed by copy of Palimpsest and I picked up Tucker's album Sirens. They are both lovely people in person, from the few minutes that I had to talk to each.

But the experience was more than that summary.

The Train Suite I: Viscous Oil & Persimmon Tea. The background music echoed from speakers, soft and sound-dense. Tucker hummed and crooned the wordless music of the trains over their rails. Valente read about the trains, of the oil and third finger of his left hand, of the pearl third rail and the women with red-painted faces. Outside, a car drove by and its headlights shone into the room, pulling a pattern of narrow windows across the wall behind the performers like the swift view of sunlight through the windows of a speeding train.

It was beautiful beyond words, all the readings, all the songs. And we heard one song which is not yet online!

It's one thing to enjoy the work of artists like Tucker or Valente, but something else entirely to see that art in person, live, raw and and immediate and real. There's a vicarious pride which comes from being around someone who is living their potential and dreams. Their divine spark starts a fire which warms those that stand near it. I feel blessed to have been there, and so thankful—to the boy, for taking me; to the author and singer and significant others and cellist and bookstore owner and friends who made the performance possible somewhere where I could come and see. Bravo, all of you.

They're in San Francisco and Los Angeles next. If you can go, then you should. Either way, if you've not searched out these artists's works—what are you waiting for?
juushika: Photograph of a row of books on a library shelf. (Books Once More)
Title: The Wood Wife
Author: Terri Windling
Published: New York: Tor, 1996
Rating: 3 of 5
Page Count: 320
Total Page Count: 72,793
Text Number: 213
Read For: personal enjoyment, checked out from the library
Short review: Poet Davis Cooper dies, leaving his home in the Tuscon mountains to Maggie Black, his friend and protégé. As she explores his home and the mysteries of his life and death, she begins to suspect that the magic that fills Cooper's poems is not allegory but rather reflects the reality of the desert mountains. Although well written and technically accomplished, exaggerated characters and a predictable plot render the book's magic flat. The Wood Wife may satisfy some readers, but I found it disappointing and don't recommend it.

Long review. )

Review posted here on Amazon.com.

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