Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

Oh dear, oh dear

Why is it that I find myself endlessly enjoying Sharpe? Not just when he is helping defeat Napoleon on behalf of anti-revolutionary reaction - because Napoleon had by that time become almost as bad as the regimes he briefly defeated, and in some respects worse - but when he is helping create the Raj in India.

It's partly Sean Bean and his class consciousness, and partly that the villains are always posh gits, whatever their nationalities and loyalties. And partly that I am a miserable sinner who enjoys this sort of thing. Plus the endless vague slashiness of Sharpe and Harper.

BTW, am I the only one, or is Geena Davis as President in 'Commander-in-Chief' distinctly slashable both with her blonde aide and the one who works for Donald Sutherland's evil Speaker?


Back to the film festival for a moment, and . 'Filthy Gorgeous' is a documentary about Trannyshack, a San Francisco night club full of people who have rediscovered radical drag only without any politics save vague punkiness. Much of their work was impressive - miming to techno and industrial and sorts of rock I don't listen to enough to name - and their refusal to have good taste was also, on balance, a good thing. But bless, they thought they were doing all of this for the first time, and I guarantee that they are no more immune from history than the rest of us.

I could not help noticing that one of the ones who in early sequences was most into angry deranged non-cross-dressing radical drag was, by the end, distinctly softening the image in the direction of cuteness and passing. And let's just say, I've seen this happen before, over and over again. Just saying...


Meanwhile, the TLS ran my Margot Lanagan piece but had to cut it a bit for space.
BLACK JUICE by Margo Lanagan ( Gollancz 230 pp £8.99)

reviewed by Roz Kaveney

A murderer is executed; a wife brought back home by her husband; a girl realizes that the boy she loves is far too conventional ever to marry her. Margo Lanagan's short stories deal in simplicity and are told economically - yet these very simple stories are far more than they seem. For one thing, they are almost all of them about family relationships and the incoherent mixture of affection and irritation that pervades most of our dealings with our closest relatives. Lanagan writes tellingly about forgiveness and acceptance, and is always tough-minded enough to deal in them without sentimentality.

She is also a fantasist, creating the strangest of worlds and contexts with the same economy that she makes us believe in brothers comforting sisters, or sons walking away from father figures. 'Singing My Sister Down' is set in a non-specific time and place, deeply Australian and partly Aboriginal, where people with some remnants of technology execute a wife who has killed her husband by smothering her slowly in a tar pit. In its handling of the issue of capital punishment, the story is almost entirely affectless - in its evocation of mourning and loss and saying slow goodbyes, as her family feed her titbits and play music to her as she slowly sinks, it is anything but.

Lanagan writes about children and peasants - few of her narrators and viewpoint characters are especially articulate yet they are all possessed of a clear insight into their own emotions that makes their speech clear and moving. In 'My Lord's Man', Berry, the man at arms who accompanies his lord on a quest to retrieve a flighty wife - who has gone off with the raggle- taggle gypsies, oh! - comes to the realization that his moral outrage is beside the point. His lord has taken her back and she has, to her own surprise, come, and somehow they are all going to have to continue to shake down together. Berry is just insightful enough to understand the sexual heat that is why his master has forgiven her - and to show us clearly how the husband enters a circle of dancers and woos his wife all over again.

Not all of these stories reach this level - Lanagan tends to be better the less specific her settings are and those stories which take place in a recognizable future Australia of dust and the end of things are less interesting than those which might be anywhere. It is, for example, almost irrelevant whether the narrator is an anthopomorphized elephant ssomewhere in India, or an intelligent alien being on some other planet. The story of how a group of the large and harmless rescue the human who drives them and sings to them is a powerful evocation of solidarity and selfless love precisely because it is not nailed down. It is a story like most of Lanagan's work which deals at once in the charming and in the overwhelming sadness of things as they are.

And congratulations to Geoff Ryman for getting the BSFA award as well as the Tiptree for 'Air'.

I'd congratulate another friend, present in LJ, for her award, but I am not sure she wants her identity known...Consider yourself congretted, and let me know whether it's OK to say...
Tags: vivaldi - la folia sonata -giardino armo
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