I just finished reading Solstice Wood, and not only was I delighted to discover that it was a sequel to Winter Rose (the only post-Riddle Master McKillip book I currently own, and which I had to re-read about three times before I understood it, but it was worth it) but it just reminded me that I would give my eye teeth to write as beautifully as Patricia McKillip.

Yes, I know that her plots are nigh-on incomprehensible on first reading (and sometimes on the second as well) and her characters' passions always seem to be separated from the real world by a pane of beautifully etched glass. But the way she describes things, the way she turns the ordinary into poetry and evokes the numinous in a way that so many other fantasy writers don't or won't or can't -- the sheer beauty of the way she sees the world, whether it's our world or an imagined one, keeps me reading.

I have one more of hers to get through, Alphabet of Thorn. I have to concentrate fiercely when I'm reading McKillip, and it stretches my brain sometimes trying to make sense of what's going on. And I know a lot of people don't like that -- I wouldn't normally care for it myself. But she had me at Riddle Master and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, and she's had me pretty much ever since.

I will never plot like McKillip, to be sure, and I'm pretty sure that's a good thing. But to master the kind of sumptuous, evocative language she uses and make it part of my own authorial toolkit -- even if I only use that tool now and then -- yes. Yes, I would like that very much.

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