Welcome to my worlds!

I'm James Maxey, author of fantasy and science fiction. My novels include the science fantasy Bitterwood Saga (4 books) the Dragon Apocalypse Saga (4 books), numerous superhero novels including Nobody Gets the Girl and the Lawless series, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collections, There is No Wheel and Jagged Gate. This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public. If you'd like to get monthly updates on new releases, as well as preview chapters and free short stories, join my newsletter!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Classics update

Since March, I've gone on to read and/or listen to Dracula, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the Great Gatsby, the Old Man and the Sea, and the Tempest in their entirety, plus started and abandoned Walden and Beyond Good and Evil.

Dracula was amazing, for the first four chapters. Then the book suffers from a distinct dearth of Dracula. The hunt for Dracula feels more like a series of board meetings. Do we really need scenes where the characters transcribe notes from one medium to another for easier reference? There's staking to do, and we're yammering on about shorthand.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea had a similar imbalance. Interesting start, but the end just circles the drain, literally. I admit, it's pretty ballsy to end a novel with "I escaped the whirlpool, but don't remember how." Sheesh.

The Tempest: Meh. The problem was that Prospero is essentially omnipotent. Every other character in the book is essentially a puppet doing what he's manipulating them into doing. I really wound up feeling sorry for Kaliban.

Walden: I gave up four chapters in. For a book about living in harmony with nature, there sure are a lot of words devoted to accounting. Instead of being a celebration of living simply, it turned into a lot of boasting about how cheaply he can build a house and scolding the rest of mankind as being suckers for wanting frivolous stuff like a second pair of pants.

Beyond Good and Evil: Possibly over my head. The first chapters was mainly devoted to refuting other philosophies, and I wasn't sure where it was going, so I gave up.

The Great Gatsby: Believe it or not, I decided to listen to this completely unaware there was a movie in the works. I had a free credit on Audible and the book came up as a suggestion, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Very glad I gave it a shot. Beautiful language, complex characters, a plot that unfolds at just the right pace to keep me interested.

The Old Man and the Sea: Another audible suggestion. I'd read this book ages ago, either in High School or early in college. What a waste to read this book when you're young! It was my favorite of the most recent batch, the one that most resonated with me. The way you fight and fight for a what you think will be a big prize only to have sharks nibble it away to skeletons... yep. That's life, exactly.

Next up: I have no idea. Still contemplating War and Peace. But, I kind of enjoyed some of the shorter novels and plays, so I'm hesitant to make such a big commitment to one book when I might squeeze in three or four. Hopefully I'll decide by next week.

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