A few little catchups.
Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter.
It had potential. The context is really cool: the Long Earth is the possibly-infinite lines of parallel Earths. Humans learn how to ‘step’ between these Earths, which are generally similar to the ‘main’ earth, except without humans. I’d really like to read a story set in this world – I think it’d work well as a game as well. But this novel felt like nothing more than a proof-of-concept. There aren’t many characters to get attached to or conflicts to care about. I can’t help thinking that without the authors’ star power, this book would have had a lot of trouble getting published.
I love the way Michael Chabon writes. Kavalier and Clay was one of the first ‘grown-up’ books I ever read, although I don’t remember enjoying it much the first time through. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union remains one of my favourite books of all time. There’s always so much happening in Chabon’s stories; subtleties of pace and demand are masterfully and inexorably woven. His style is literary – wanky, if you’re feeling less charitable. But I love it anyway.
That said, Telegraph Avenue seemed to meander much more than other Chabon novels. The first third, in particular, feels like a bunch of incredibly well-characterised people just… bouncing off one another. It’s an epic, with any number of colliding plots and complications, but I just didn’t feel as connected as I have with Chabon’s other books.
Other notes: the third part (of five) is twelve pages, and consists of one sentence. That section should be compulsory reading for anyone wanting to learn how to use commas properly. Barack Obama appears – but it’s 2004, and he’s an ‘obscure Illinois politician’. Oh, chortle!
More to come.