Derik Badman's Journal

2020-10-28 08:21

Finished up Gifts the other night, a quiet fantasy novel. I guess it is considered YA and has a bit of that feel to it, which is hard for me to describe, but it's about children turning into adults and part of the conflict is with parents and taking on responsibility and education and the things that the children aren't told or don't know and also about moving away from home and loss and grief. Le Guin kind of works it all in, without having the protagonists travel far or get into high drama. I think there's only one fight/battle scene and it is extremely short/quick and decisive in its results. Also, I realized that I think this "trilogy" is more about setting than plot/characters, as my impression is the narrative/protagonist of the first book is not continued into the others (unless they are just secondary). Curious to see where the second one goes, but taking a break to read some other things before I start it.

Last night, in one sitting, I read Don Delillo's new book Silence. It is subtitled "A novel" which feels like an oversell on the part of the publisher. It's about 115 pages with large text and line spacing and a lot of white space in some parts, at best it's a novella, and certainly doesn't have the depth or scope to feel like a novel. Not exactly sci-fi, but kind of apocalyptic, it covers one night when suddenly all power seems to stop working. Or first all the "screens" stop working and then later it seems electricity stops working. There's no explanation or attempt at one, or even logic to it (why would battery powered devices stop working at the same time as plugged in devices), so you have to read it more as allegory than sci-fi. Trying to make sense of it logically fails. Two of the characters are on a trans-atlantic flight when the event happens, yet somehow the jet lands with only some trouble (it does crash, but only in landing and its not clear anyone is seriously hurt).

Two other characters are in their apartment in NYC (expecting the other two as guests to watch the Super Bowl) with a third guy who talks a lot about Einstein. Not much happens. People monologue. I... can't say I got anything out of it. A lot of the reviews (I've read a few now) talk about the themes of the book, but Delillo more points at themes than actually exploring them. It all feels shallow and cold. I doubt I would have finished it if it weren't so short.