La la la, oh, sorry. Caught me in the middle of the NaNo/Thanksgiving happy dance. Fifty thousand words and 131 pages (double-spaced) later, I'm finally catching up on my reading. I think writing wrings it out of me and, like a dehydrated runner, I'm gulping down the sentences and chapters of the books that have been waiting by the desk. This week it was Blue Diablo by Ann Aguirre and Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire. Both books centered on a female character for whom the particular mystery in each book was not their first rodeo. One could draw other similarities, but they would be endemic to the genre.
Blue Diablo had a unique urban setting and voice for it's protagonist, Corine Solomon. Despite a frenetic storyline, her voice was never less than assured with humor cracking beneath. She was vulnerable enough to elicit empathy and strong enough to drive the story forward with her choices. Since the story hewed closely to the Texas/Mexico border, the descriptions and concerns felt both new in terms of my reading and familiar in terms of the politics and concerns of living in Texas. Rosemary and Rue shared the same frenetic pacing, but it played more like a movie such as Crank or Speed, in that motion seemed to be the entire goal of the plot and at times I felt I was being shoved forward through yet another door with the story shredding around me as I tried to keep up. Not that the story wasn't interesting or that I didn't enjoy it--I enjoyed both books and will look for the second in each series.
However, I am wondering when the pendulum will swing back from the action every second plotting that marks so much contemporary fantasy and back into the slower but for me more enjoyable action, breathing space, action, breathing space pacing that marks some older works. I dislike finding myself at the end of a book relieved that I don't have to suffer through the character's insane life anymore. Each time I pick up a new book, I'm hopeful that it will represent an author that I'm going to want to follow over the course of several books, someone who is going to show me something different, not shake me through a series of creative trope-tweaks while he or she whips the characters into pulp, occasionally rewarding them with cheap sex or a resolution that gives them extra-narrative breathing (gasping, rather) room.
I think part of me will never enjoy the pulp fiction elements in any genre. It's a worry of mine, because it seems like something that other people enjoy and that I as a writer (and human being) should master. What I miss, though, is wonder. Even dark tales can contain their elements of amazement and discovery, but when you're moving at 80 miles an hour down your plot track, it's easy to miss those moments or just flat out mow them down. Why can't adult fiction aspire to the gasp and awe of children's literature?