Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Black Out by Connie Willis--Another Chunkster!

I am keeping my head above water work-wise, but everything else has drowned. The house is a shambles, but that did not stop me from finishing Cold Earth and starting my latest find, Blackout by Connie Willis, an American sci-fi/historical novelist. (Readers, if you know Willis and I've described her genre incorrectly, please set me straight!) If you follow the "Connie Willis" link, please scroll down below the stupid ads that have been placed in the middle of the article.

I'm so glad I've "discovered" Connie Willis, and I'm sad to say that my befuddled brain does not remember from which blog I found her. I had the chance to begin the book this morning and, although, I'm only on Chapter 3, I'm finding it extremely pleasurable.

First of all, I love novels that focus on World War II in Europe, and I'm especially interested in novels set in wartime Britain. The concept of time travel is fun, especially when it's done from a scientific, intellectual perspective. I don't care at all for books that treat time travel from a fantastical perspective.

Willis is interesting, and I look forward to blogging more about this novel. I was so disappointed I couldn't continue reading it today. Maybe Thursday morning I can really dive in!


  1. I'm glad to hear that you're surviving. I'm quite fond of a shambolic house.

    It looks like this is another author that I'll have to check out as the subject matter appeals to me too. Thanks.

    I e-mailed you because you haven't given me your postal address yet!

  2. Ooooh I love WWII books that take place in Europe! I've never heard of this book but now I'm intrigued. I can't wait to read more about it here :)

  3. For more on Connie, visit the official website at www.conniewillis.net. I have posted a bibliography of some of her research books used for Blackout and there should be one for All Clear once it has been released. She is also doing a short book tour for All Clear, so make sure to catch her if she comes anywhere near you.

  4. I recently read To Say Nothing of the Dog by this author and absolutely loved it! I am looking forward to reading more from her.

  5. Connie Willis is one of my favorite writers, but this novel, and her previous one, _Passage_, are marked by two characteristics of all her work turned into obsessions - a deep feeling for the past and a narrative built on continuous frustration. In her shorter works like "Fire Watch" or "Blued Moon" one has a sense of struggle, but at that length the reader doesn't feel a slog - it's a brief, funny, exciting, wrenching experience crowned by an epiphany in the former case, a madcap but touching comedy in the latter. In these last novels the slog as experience is what the book in large part is about. Character C is trying to do something we know is a mistake, runs into obstacles, gets more entangled by struggling, gets trapped, has to suffer fear, can't get out, can't get home - and that's how the reader feels about reading the book, in sympathy with the character but also on his or her own account. It was often difficult for me to stay involved in the story - "oh, so-and-so's lost now/stuck standing in icy water/drawing false conclusions on obviously insufficient data while observing lots of period detail, and in a few pages the chapter will end on a revelation that will turn out to be shown to be a mistake in the next". Reading _Passage_ I often thought of Kafka, and I wouldn't be surprised if the work is a masterpiece of the sort I don't much enjoy, though Kafka is so strong a writer I don't mind the reading-about-slog-as-slog aspect. _Blackout_ seems like a surfeit of material which is ok on its own (though never of the interest of Willis's earlier stuff) but when conglomerated is just way too much, even given that being overwhelmed is part of the point - and this is just half the story apparently.