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A question posted 02 June 2005 in Author Q & AA question by JJ_99uk, Commoner

Mr Bakker,

First of all, I'd just like to say how impressed I am with the time you're giving up to answer readers' questions - though I hope it's not taking too much time away from writing - I'm eagerly awaiting The Thousandfold Thought!

I did have a couple of minor querries about points from the books - but I've found the answers in previous threads, so I'll move on:

In your interview with FantasyBookSpot, you say:

...The same holds true for literature, or just about anything else you could imagine. The books we loved in high school usually seem trite and contrived after finishing a literature PhD.

Given our socialization in a similar culture, we all share a rough baseline vantage. Some of us then go one to transform and elaborate that vantage - to develop a ‘musician’s ear’ for literature. Most of us don’t. The problem is that things that look good from a baseline vantage often look bad from a cultivated vantage, and vice versa....

So the question is: what would you reccomend to help develop that musician's ear? I'm not particulary inclined to do a literature PHD, and perhaps I'm running the risk of ruining all those books I love, but the prince of nothing is one of the very few fantasy books I've read that makes me feel there are depths I'd appreciate more if I had studied literature. Not that I didn't enjoy it, of course!

So could you (or any of the remarkably cultured members of this forum!) reccomend any helpful works of "literary criticism" or anything to better appreciate fiction? I'm currently reading "The seven basic plots" by Christopher Booker, a book I found which seems a very easily readable work that doesn't assume too much background knowledge, but where to go from here?

I have to add that the prince of nothing deserves far, far, more positive marketing, and is easily the most clever fantasy series I've read in years. In fact, off the the top of my head, the only books that come close are China Mieville's The Scar, and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norel. Just how is it possible that people like Robert Newcombe [excuse me while I wash my mouth out] get all the hype?!

Please, please, keep writing!


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A question posted 06 June 2005 in Author Q &amp; AA question by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

Welcome to the board, JJ 99uk! I've been out of the lit crit game for so long that I'm not really sure what might constitute a good primer (for me the big thing was the Bedford Critical Edition of Heart of Darkness, but I don't even know if that's still in print). But as long as you keep reading challenging works and asking yourself questions, it seems to me that your 'musicians's ear for literature' would have to keep developing. view post


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