Thursday, October 15, 2009

Diminishing Returns

I have just read a jolly romp, The Magicians, by Lev Grossman. It was sort of a grown-up Harry Potter (they go to magic university, rather than secondary school), but had much more of the texture of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (which I utterly loved, although I know my mother did not). To me, coming out of JS & Mr. N was like coming out of a haze into a cold world that was too sharp, without the weight of magic everywhere. Clarke created a world that was soft and heavy with the magic and wonders of her world, and The Magicians had something of that feel.

Nonetheless, the book suffered from what so many books suffer from: the rubbish denouement. Lots of books I really love for building up and building up a great head of steam, and then in the last third things go bonkers / off-kilter, and the ending is never as good as it should be. The Secret History is a killer for that - given how spectacular the first 3/4 of it is, it's just a bit of a letdown. Books do avoid it - by either being pants or by being amazing all the way through. But it's interesting how even very good writers somehow, truly, lose the plot.

I recommend it, though. Lots of good, dirty and unhealthy-alcoholic- fun.

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