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simon reading

Reading with Minako-chan 2008: 4 He's a Jolly Good Fellow

I am ridiculously sore right now. I took a martial-arts-slash-yoga class at the gym on Friday, and my legs STILL ache. It was like yoga, except the insane woman leading the class would start saying things like "kung fu pose" or "ten high kicks; double time!" and yeah. GOING TO DIE. I'm seriously considering just curling up with a book and soaking in the bath tub for an hour or so tonight. SPEAKING of books (did you see the segue!?), more book reviews!

(14) Ai no Kusabi The Space Between Volume 1: Stranger
(15) Ai no Kusabi The Space Between Volume 2: Destiny by Reiko Yoshihara (translated by Kelly Quine)
Oh, the glory of Ai no Kusabi! A few things to explain. This was one of the first BL animes (possibly even the first) that I'd ever seen, and I still think of it very fondly thanks to high production values, superb cast, and an ending that made me sob like a little baby. So when kinomakoto sent me the first two volumes of the novel, translated into English, I was thrilled. So on one hand, people should realize that I am definitely biased towards the story. Having said that, this was the crappiest translation that every crapped. It was seriously PAINFULLY bad. I mean, just horrendously bad. It's bad to the point where it's almost good, because as you sludge through pages of tripe, you can get your kicks screaming "Who the hell WROTE this!?" and flinging the book across the room. We've got cliches. We've got mixed metaphors. We've got odd grammar, and poor characterization, and some really really weird word choices (the translator calls everyone "chap"; do you really believe that gangs in futuristic slums sit around drinking their moonshine and saying, "That chap is fucking going down!"). We've got language so overly-flowery that I had to ask Mako-chan if there was anything beyond purple prose. (After much consideration, I have decided to name it "ultraviolet prose". Feel free to use this in term in future conversation.) In short, this was seriously one of the worst translations I've every read, and I was just agape in horror. AGAPE.

Having said that, it would be unfair to lay ALL of the blame on the translator. The novels were original serialized, and you can tell by the way that plot points are repeated over and over and over again, as if making sure that no one who missed a part or three would feel left out. Also, the pacing is excrutiatingly slow; the story really only starts to look exciting towards the end of Volume 2. So in short, bad translation of a mediocre story. Having said that, I'd like to continue reading. ^_^v I really do like the anime, and since I already know the story, I realize that the pace should speed up in Volume 3. We'll see. Extremely poor translation that's really only recommended for Ai no Kusabi fans or people who are really really desperate for homosexual erotica.

(16) Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
In 12th century England, four children have been murdered and the Jews are blamed. So Adelia, the best doctor of death from the famed medical school at Salerno, is brought in to solve the problem with along with her team: a Jewish investigator and a Muslim ax-throwing eunuch. Think "CSI: Cambridge". I wasn't a huge fan of the writing style; the book was almost entirely told from Adelia's point of view, but certain sections (or even paragraphs) used different POV for a rather choppy feel that didn't really work for a mystery. (When potential suspects have sections written from their POV that has them going, "Gee, I hope she catches the evil murderers," it kinda spoils the mystery. Just a tad.) Plus, the actual murderer seemed insanely obvious, so I ended up spending half the book screaming, "What's wrong with you people!? Don't you listen to your own profiling!?!?" In the end, not an overly spectacular mystery, but with a highly original setting that gives it a solid leg up over conventional mystery tales.

(17) Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
After reading Mieville's Un Lun Dun, I decided to pick up another one of his novels when I found it in the used book store. Plus points: the world-building is extraordinary, with a mix of fantasy, steam-punk, and horror so fascinating that even everyday actions are exciting. The story takes a while to get rolling, but the inter-woven strands of plot all come together in the most intriguing ways. And once the main plot kicks in, wow. There's barely time to breathe. (Oh, and the Ambassador of Hell? Awesome.) On the down side, the beginning is a tad long; the only thing I can say is that everything does eventually pull together, so have faith and just enjoy your trip through the world. Also, I was highly disappointed by the very end and the eventual fate of Yagharek. Compared to the fanciful world, it seemed so... mundane, and the last few pages were very unsatisfying. But if I can ignore the Harry Potter epilogue, I'm not going to let a few pages ruin this story for me, either. A fascinating and absorbing epic tale in a wonderful new world.

(18) Hero by Perry Moore
This is just a short, easy read about a young man who's hiding two secrets: he's gay, and he's got superpowers. The story is pretty much exactly as you'd imagine. It's not quite original enough to be ground-breaking, and it's not quite sharp enough to be a stinging parody, but it is easy-to-read and fun. (I literally read it in one evening. That's how quick it is.) Not perfect, but a very fun, frothy read for the summer.

(19) Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
In a nutshell, the Olympian gods and goddesses live in a rotting house in London, where Dionysus runs a night club, Aphrodite works a phone sex line, and Athena is a dog walker. This is the kind of description that could get me to read ANY book, but Gods Behaving Badly also happens to be a fast-paced and fun read, even for those who don't love Olympian humor like I do. The ending comes extremely suddenly and much too easily, making me suspect that Phillips was given 24 hours to tie off loose ends before submitting her manuscript to the publishers, but I can forgive the ending for the fun that came before it. Besides, Eros as a born-again Christian never fails to make me weep with laughter. A fun story about the Greek gods in modern times.


Ultraviolet Prose: By george, you did it! You coined the perfect phrase. For not only is it unnecessarily flowery, it is actually physically painful. It burns. BURNS.

Alas (as Border was a tough reminder of, more on that in Das Blog), my Japanese skills are a long way from no-pikturz reading. I was oh-so-proud of myself for making it about a third of the way into a Kyou Kara Maoh novel and enjoying basic comprehension (Alien vs Predator the Musical! Ahhh, you can't make this shit up.)... then the plot drifted somewhere even crazier (as KKM is wont to do) and I'm lost. T____T

I'll send the next installments your way when I find them. Assuming your brain isn't still smoking.
I've very proud of "ultraviolet prose" myself. So appropriate, is it not? And I definitely want to read the rest. It's so horribly bad, it's good! (I adored the chapter about random guy who worked with Riki in the black market. What he hell was that chapter about? Why the hell did we need to know all of that? Was Sensei actually that desperate for plot ideas?)