Posts Tagged ‘heinlein’

When I started this blog I made a pretty conscious decision not to make this a blog about literary criticism or discussion, aside from in a very general sense–see my discussion of books I’ll read my kids from yesterday, and keep an eye for an entry called Things I Must Believe, which is about the things we have to believe are true to keep sane. Mine happen to be mostly literary.

Aside from those, though, I decided not to talk about books too much. I’ve used Young Wizards and Neil Gaiman to talk about my beliefs, but I wanted to get away from the English-major modality in which I’ve been thinking and writing for over four years. If people are going to know me at all (which probably they won’t), I want to be know for more than just talking about books. Even though that’s what I do with my friends and partners and parents, I wanted to spend some time thinking more about gender and sexuality and other interesting things I never had time for because I was busy write-write-writing about books.

But I’m going to make an exception today.

See, the last time I went back to my parent’s house for the day, I pulled half a dozen books from the big bookcase in the spare room. (For those interested, my family has between eight and ten good-sized bookcases in the house; this is the tallest but not the biggest.) Most of the books I’d either read or wanted to read for ages; one I pulled and didn’t recognize, but the cover looked amusing and vaguely trashy-fantasy/sci-fi-ish. It looked like it was probably one of my dad’s books; he’s as into genre fiction as I am.

So I dump all these books on the table, and my father wanders in to flip through them because he’s nosy. He holds up the book I hadn’t recognized and says, Are you borrowing this?

Yeah, I said, rummaging through my bag.

Then I have to get you another one by the same guy. And he runs off to his room to fetch it. In an altogether too gleeful a manner for a fifty-something year old guy. And comes back with a very solemn-looking and sizeable book with the full moon on its cover.

The reason my dad was so excited was because I’d picked up The Cat Who Walked Through Walls by R.A. Heinlein. Remember when I said my dad is a genre-fiction guy too? Well, his genre is Science Fiction, where mine is Fantasy, and Heinlein is (if you have been living under a rock for fifty years) the greatest of the scifi greats.

And I’d never read him. Not once–and I even made a run at Tolkien for my dad’s sake. I thought Heinlein was dusty and dull and boring, dated unpleasant futuristic scholk. Don’t ask me where I came up with this because I don’t know. I’d never touched Heinlein, not a single novel, not one short story. And then just last week I read Uptown Local and Other Interventions by Diane Duane. And found out that Heinlein had loved Ed the shark (who will show again in an entry or two). And I thought, okay, he’s got to have something, maybe I’ll pick up this book I found on the shelf and give him a chance.

I fell in love.

I haven’t been this sucked into a book since I was reading the Tamora Pierce books as an eleven year old or the first time I read American Gods. I can hardly tear myself away. I’ve finished Cat Who… already; the other one is sitting open on my shins right now, fifty pages in already. (The other book is, by the by, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress–considered by some Heinlein’s greatest work. It’s going to be all I can do to not stay up until midnight with it.) I can’t believe I went so long without them. I’m entranced, my breath is taken away. This is what it was like to discover Charles de Lint, to have a whole world open up in front of me, one that will take months or years to get through. I don’t panic, seeing so much left to read–instead I can hardly bear the thought that I can’t spend all my time sunk deep into that world, and yet rejoice that there will be so much time left to spend in it. I am something close to crazy with this. I don’t think most people completely grasp my book mania; I cart a novel almost everywhere and am able to go on about them for insane amounts of time. I like almost everything I read, and have a hell of a time trying to decide on my favorite.

So when I say that these two novels are the best ones I’ve read in the past two or three years?

You have to understand that that really, really means something.


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