Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Locus!

It's a week until Acacia: The War with the Mein hits the bookshelves. It can be a strangely depressing time, when every positive mention seems overshadowed by the lists not made, the places not to be reviewed, etc. But today I got a bit of goodness to shake me from my self-indulgent funk.

Locus ran a review of Acacia. Nick Gevers wrote it, and boy is he a smart guy. This is a really rewarding review to read because - different than many reviews - it's less a matter of personal preference and more a matter of examining the book's intentions and successes. Mr. Gevers apparently understood at every level what Acacia is really about, and, thankfully, he thinks I pulled it off. I'm not going to show the whole review here because Locus doesn't have it as online content and I don't want to piss anybody off over there. But a few choice excerpts should be alright.

So here are a few terribly gratifying lines...

What is striking about The War with the Mein is the expert precision with which Durham maps the so tangible ‘‘real world’’ of our present onto fantastic territory normally regarded either as escapist or as broadly allegorical. On the textual surface, there are all the color, excitement, intrigue, combat, grotesque invention, grandiose scene-setting, perilous questing, and pyrotechnic supernaturalism that genre fantasy demands; but every incident and vista counts toward a socioeconomic calculus...

He then goes on to take specific examples from the novel and explain what they symbolize. And he's right! Man, this guy is smart. This is not to say that I only want people reading for the deep and meaningful. I'm happy if other readers enjoy this as an adventure. But, true enough, it's always more than that to me. I'm still a literary writer - in my opinion - which means that the thematic undertones of my work are as important to me as the enjoyability of the story. That's why it was so wonderful to read this...

The analysis is deep, the roots of action in character painstakingly laid out, the chains of consequence impeccably drawn forth; the ideological implications of Durham’s text are best compared not with (George RR) Martin’s but rather with the Marxist thesis of China Miéville’s Bas-Lag – less extreme, but just as urgent. The War with the Mein, or the first third of it, is a political novel of large impact, as radical a rewriting of Martin as Martin himself has performed on Tolkien. Rarely has medieval epic been quite this pertinent.

Geez. I really don't know this guy, honest.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Constance said...

You've officially had Marxist theory linked with your novel. Cool! We can have a lot of fun with that. :) And "ideological implications" makes my little philosophical heart jump with glee. A review for me to study!

(Although I don't see Acacia as a "medieval epic" but that's just me)

I'm happy you're getting such great reviews, David. Congratulations! Bask in the glow.

11:07 PM  
Blogger Kahnee said...

That is an awesome review.

I predict there will be many papers, articles and so forth written on Acacia. Personally, I want to examine the father issues. Coming from a fatherless home, it really touched me to see a father so connected to his children. If he hadn't been so connected with his children would he have been killed? would he have been more protective of his kingdom, his reign?

And the cover of the magazine has Nalo on it.... oooh, I'm gonna have to subscribe.

11:48 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Constance,

Medieval epic is an interesting term - not one I would've used before. I'll have to think about it...

Kahnee,

Thanks. I'd love it if the book has the sort of life that gets it into scholarly discourse. I don't write anything just to be about what's on the surface. What's beneath and how it relates to our world is always part of where my mind is. There's never a guarantee that others are going to see that, though.

And, yes, Nalo Hopkinson is on the cover. That's wonderful. I'm glad for her, and glad in general that some writers of color are so strongly promoted in the issue.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Megumi said...

Congratulations that's awesome! I can't wait to read the whole novel. :)

2:05 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Thanks, Megumi. I hope you like it when you do!

3:33 PM  
Blogger Aidan said...

Very cool, David.

I'll have to try and read the full review somewhere.

Hopefully my own review will be as satisfying!

~Aidan
A Dribble of Ink

4:33 PM  

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