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~生まれた町で夢見てきた...~
"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
*sings sadly* All alone again... 
5th-Aug-2005 10:37 am
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Left behind home alone again for an entire weekend, unable to leave the house because what little livelihood I have is bound, but of course, to the Internet--which I have for years told my family we need to have up in Maine...to no avail. *bitter*

Anyway, I finally finished the gorgeous novel that I've been haphazardly working on for the past week or so--slowly, because such writing ought to be savored:

Saint Fire by Tanith Lee
Book Two of The Secret Books of Venus, the quartet about a fantasy Venice through the ages continues it's myriad delights, this time exploring not the depth of debauchery and secret societies, but rather dissecting the follibles and faith of the Church. The protagonist is Volpa, a slave girl pitiful in every way save that her mother has given her a valuable gift--the ability to call fire from her red hair. She is "discovered" by the Church, if you will, and is soon groomed by the most amazing Danielus, to become a saint and to turn religion away from repentence and self-hatred and toward love. And indeed, the love that grows between her and the soldier of God Christiano is nothing short of divine. Figure, though, that things do not go smoothly; they never do, when a woman is given ultimate power, after all. Really, the only words for Lee's writing when it is at it's best is "gorgeous," and this novel, like Faces Under Water before it, is nothing short of that word. Filled with sensuality and just the barest hint of eroticism (the fangirls will love this boy--at one point even his sister wishes he could find a nice *man* to settle down with ^^; ). I was really surprised that the religious themes of this novel did not irk me; I don't generally like it when my fantasy novels try to preach to me about morality. Naturally, this is not your usual moral, think along the lines of Anne Rice, but Tanith Lee is a far better writer and her complex yet subtle style will appeal to those who like great literature, while the magic will appeal to those who like fantasy. Highly recommended; if you haven't tried this series before, I suggest you start with Book One.
Comments 
7th-Aug-2005 08:21 pm (UTC) - Tanith Lee
Anonymous
The first book I read by Tanith Lee was her _Black Unicorn_ novel for young adults. Other than the sequels I haven't read any of her other work - but after reading your description, I may have to explore her writing a bit more. Her books, as far as I know, do tend to have some hint of morality, but not in a way that ties to indoctrinate readers; rather, the moral themes in her books are more nudges to take her points into consideration. Is this true for this book as well?

I am also writing to say hello because I haven't spoken/im-ed you in the longest time. I hope you are well. Feel free to find me online. I am pretty horrible at keeping up to date with friends' livejournals and blogs, but I'll try.

-Glo
7th-Aug-2005 08:31 pm (UTC) - Re: Tanith Lee
*gasps* Ohmygod!!! Hello!!! How have you been!?? ^__^

Ah yes, I love Tanith Lee's books. If all you've read is The Black Unicorn and its sequels, then you're missing out on some amazing stuff. My favorites by far are The Secret Books of Paradys (4 books) and The Flat Earth series (5 books). The latter are out of print unfortunately, but widely-available used online. Both series have deliciously rich writing and draw heavily upon mythological and folkloric traditions. The Paradys books are also gothic horror.

Her books, as far as I know, do tend to have some hint of morality, but not in a way that ties to indoctrinate readers; rather, the moral themes in her books are more nudges to take her points into consideration. Is this true for this book as well?

Hmm. Sometimes. Of course, this book has an explicitly moral theme going, but Lee does plenty of stories that seem to be odes to sensuality and nothing else. In addition, she's done some of the most beautifully-written sex scenes I've ever read, and her non-young-adult books are invariably charged with eroticism.

In general, I like her horror novels the best, and they are probably amoral, if nothing else.

Anyway, it's great to hear from you. I'll try checking in with you somehow and catch up more! ^__^
8th-Aug-2005 03:35 am (UTC) - Re: Re: Tanith Lee
Anonymous
Hi!! XD I've been doing pretty well overall. I've been watching some Korean dramas recently. They're addicting whether or not they're good.

Well, it seems I have a bunch of books to check out. They sound ... intriguing, to say the least.

Do you have my e-mail address? I'd write it here, but I'd rather not put it somewhere public.
8th-Aug-2005 09:56 am (UTC) - Re: Tanith Lee
I've been watching some Korean dramas recently. They're addicting whether or not they're good.

Which ones? (Yeah, I *might* be familiar with the titles.) Is your Korean good enough to watch without subtitles?

Do you have my e-mail address? I'd write it here, but I'd rather not put it somewhere public.

I don't remember. >_< If you want, just leave an anonymous comment somewhere with just your email address. I'm screening all comments, which means that unless I want it to be *or* I respond to the comment, it's only visible to me. ^_^
8th-Aug-2005 01:50 pm (UTC) - Re: Tanith Lee
Anonymous
I've watched or I am watching Damo, QuehGuhlChoonHyang (Delightful/Sassy Girl ChoonHyang), Full House, SangdooyaHakyoGaja (Let's Go To School Sangdoo), 1%yeh Uhddungut (1% of Anything), BekSuhlGongJoo (Snow White) ... and that's it for now. I can understand most of it without subtitles, but stubtitles definitely help. Sometimes the characters talk a little too quickly for me and sometimes the vocabulary is a bit unfamiliar.

Some of the dramas are pretty cheesy... and the acting is a bit over done in some of them, but they're really wasy to get addicted to and I've noticed my Korean getting a bit better because of this extra exposure tot he Korean language.

I'll give you my e-mail after this comment then :)
8th-Aug-2005 02:11 pm (UTC) - Re: Tanith Lee
I've heard of Sassy Girl and Full House. Full House is based on a comic by one of my favorite artists. ^_^

Some of the dramas are pretty cheesy... and the acting is a bit over done in some of them

I was always laughing my head off while watching TV in Korea. When you can't understand what they're saying, the over-acting is even more obvious. *sighs* But, you know, my host mother would just sit there and burst into tears over all the melodrama. Made me a bit nauseous to watch. Acting standards must be cultural.

Ah, I wish I had someone to practice Korean with! I have about half an elementary course under my belt, but were I given a few formal lessons about constructions I heard all the time, I'm sure I'd pick up a lot more very fast.
10th-Aug-2005 05:45 am (UTC) - Re: Tanith Lee
Anonymous
Yeah, some of the acting is horrible, but some of the acting is all right. There were drama (at least one) that had pretty good acting. I haven't cried over a drama yet, but there are definitely ones made to squeeze out as many tears from the audience as possible. In at least 2 of the drama I've watched, the middle to end of the series is full of people crying all the time - pretty much every other scene is of someone crying.

Have you watched any drama that caught your interest? I've been watching J-drama as well (I finished one and am still watching the other). Both of them are based on manga, actually. (Kimi wa Petto & H2.)

As for having someone to practice Korean with, I need that too. The drama has been helping me, but most of the phrases I pick up from the dramas are ... well ... insults of some sort or another.
10th-Aug-2005 10:38 am (UTC) - Re: Tanith Lee
In at least 2 of the drama I've watched, the middle to end of the series is full of people crying all the time - pretty much every other scene is of someone crying.

With these in-your-face close-ups of their tears. Yeah, I know the type. They even did it in Lost, most certainly for the benefit of the Korean audience. :P

Have you watched any drama that caught your interest?

Not really. Everything I saw on TV in Korea made me want to poke my own eyes out--from Daejanggeum to that tray noraebang thing. A few of the movies that I saw, however, I really liked: Taegeukgi and Oldboy especially. (One the other hand, all the Korean animation that I saw I thought was terribly overrated.) Have you seen either of those?

At times, I've considered looking into Winter Sonata (since it was so popular in Japan) and Daejangeum (since it was so popular in Korea while I was there), but for the latter at least I'm half-afraid it would just make my blood pressure skyrocket. >_< Besides, I'd need subtitled DVD versions, and that's kind of expensive.

As for having someone to practice Korean with, I need that too.

What about family or friends?
10th-Aug-2005 03:12 pm (UTC) - Re: Tanith Lee
Anonymous
I saw Taegukki - I liked it, but I felt like one of the main purposes was to draw out tears. I'm so cold-hearted when it comes to movies. The less obvious the movie is about setting up vises for tear-ducts, the more likely I'll be moved. I heard that Oldboy was very good, but I haven't seen it yet. I wanted to see 3 Iron (I think it was called BinJip), but I didn't catch it while it was the theaters here.

I do have some people I can practice with - but the problem with my Korean is that I grew up with only older people - and ones that demanded a lot of respect and not much thoughtfulness in response, so my Korean is a bit limited - especially when it comes to discussing topics with my peers. I do have some friends I could try to make speak Korean with me, but it's so much easiler to communicate in English. I've been practicing my handwriting a lot recently, but, if asked to write a letter on my own, I would maybe be able to write a "hello. my name is... I like bibimbap." ... or something as equally elementary.

What about you? Have you been continuing in developing your Korean language skills? If so, how?
10th-Aug-2005 03:23 pm (UTC) - Re: Tanith Lee
I saw Taegukki - I liked it, but I felt like one of the main purposes was to draw out tears.

Well, and it also showed Koreans a bit of history that has been going down the memory hole--like the way the government started massacreing its own people because they were suspected Communists. (Something like 15% of the entire population of Jeju-do was rounded up and shot, as well.)

Of course, I didn't like the female role in this film, either. Korean heroines are so pre-feminist and bird-boned most of the time...it irks me.

I heard that Oldboy was very good, but I haven't seen it yet.

I bought the DVD while I was in Korea after hearing how it was winning awards. The DVD is coming out in the US this month, I believe. It was just...beautiful. And fun. If you like action and film noir, I suppose.

if asked to write a letter on my own, I would maybe be able to write a "hello. my name is... I like bibimbap." ... or something as equally elementary.

Luckily for you, Korean is so easy to write! (Sound changes aside, that is.) Typing is a bitch, though; I still don't really know where all the keys are. Hunt and peck of a whole new order, it is.

What about you? Have you been continuing in developing your Korean language skills? If so, how?

You're kidding me, right? >_< I haven't been practicing at all, other than staring at the occasional Korean comic book and thinking, "Oh, so that's a girl. He's calling her nuna." *sighs* Oh, and talking randomly like a madwoman to herself in short phrases of mixed Korean, Spanish, Japanese, and English. But that's about it. I have a whole stack of (poorly-written) textbooks, should I ever motivate myself. But, really, motivation comes either from classes or from immersion.
11th-Aug-2005 07:42 am (UTC) - Re: Tanith Lee
Anonymous
Well, and it also showed Koreans a bit of history that has been going down the memory hole--like the way the government started massacreing its own people because they were suspected Communists. (Something like 15% of the entire population of Jeju-do was rounded up and shot, as well.)

Woot... I didn't know how to quote, but I learned.

In any case ... I agree. Have you heard anything about the movie Shilmido? It's based on true historical events. I have the latter half of it but I haven't seen much of it, just the very beginning of the middle where there is a rape scene. Having that as the first impression of the movie tickles me for some reason.


Of course, I didn't like the female role in this film, either. Korean heroines are so pre-feminist and bird-boned most of the time...it irks me.

I agree with that as well. well, the dramas I've seen tend to have "spunky" female leads, but their purity takes presidence over any "cute" (meaning still in the realm of feminine) unfeminine traits.

The aspect of the Kimi wa Petto drama that bothered me the most was the message that strong women, underneath it all, are fragile and afraid, and in need of men/boys to take care of them.

I bought the DVD while I was in Korea after hearing how it was winning awards. The DVD is coming out in the US this month, I believe. It was just...beautiful. And fun. If you like action and film noir, I suppose.
I'll have to check it out. I think a video rental store has it available around here.

I still don't really know where all the keys are. Hunt and peck of a whole new order, it is.
Ditto.

You're kidding me, right? >_<
Hey hey, I am not going to pretend that I've been good at keeping up with what you've been up to. Partial immersion is somewhat of an option for me, although, because languages evolve and change, current Korean language is not exactly the same as the language my parents and grandparents are familiar with. But I am learning the "classy" vs. "uneducated" ways of saying various things - such as "bathroom." Weirdly, it is my mom, who came from a very poor country family, who is more knowledgable about the more polite/classy language, rather than my dad, who is from a more middle class [more] urban background. I'm getting a little less shy about using Korean however, despite my reservations of using it with people I don't know because of what I consider to be my jarring American accent.
11th-Aug-2005 12:23 pm (UTC) - Re: Tanith Lee
Have you heard anything about the movie Shilmido?

*shakes head* No. What's it about? It is available in the US?

The aspect of the Kimi wa Petto drama that bothered me the most was the message that strong women, underneath it all, are fragile and afraid, and in need of men/boys to take care of them.

Have you read the manga? That's not so much of an important theme (though from Momo's perspective Sumire needs some protection) in the manga as the woman chooses not the life that she is supposed to want, but rather the life that she actually wants. Not to mention that she's a woman supporting a man. An important reversal. Seems possible, though, that they may have cooled down (what seem to me to be) post-feminist angst for the drama.

Hey hey, I am not going to pretend that I've been good at keeping up with what you've been up to.

*laughs* I wasn't expecting you to! I'm exasperated with myself/my situation; I wasn't coming down on you. ^_~

But I am learning the "classy" vs. "uneducated" ways of saying various things - such as "bathroom."

Err. "Hwajangshil"??? Is that "classy" or "uneducated"? ^^;;

Weirdly, it is my mom, who came from a very poor country family, who is more knowledgable about the more polite/classy language, rather than my dad, who is from a more middle class [more] urban background.

Interesting. Perhaps it's a case of emulation?

*curious* Where are your parents from in Korea? What kind of accent do they have?

I'm getting a little less shy about using Korean however, despite my reservations of using it with people I don't know because of what I consider to be my jarring American accent.

What *is* an American accent in Korean, anyway? Besides not (in my case) not pronouncing the sets of consonants quite right all the time.

If it's any consolation to you, by the end of my time in Korea, I could get into a taxi, name my destination, and *not* turn the ride into 20 questions from the taxi driver about Who I Am? Where Am I From? What Am I Doing In Korea? etc. Koreans in Korea don't listen for accents very hard if you have a Korean face, apparently.
14th-Aug-2005 08:43 pm (UTC) - Re: Tanith Lee
Anonymous
*shakes head* No. What's it about? It is available in the US?

It's based on true events ... it's still about the tensions between North and South Korea, but about events that the public didn't have access to until recently. About 31 convicts from South Korea were trained to be human weapons in a plot to assassinate Kim Jung Il in the early 1970s on a remote Korean island called "Shilmido" (just a wild guess, really ;P).

Here are some articles about it:
http://theseoultimes.com/ST/?url=/ST/db/read.php?idx=244
http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/nation/200402/kt2004021919253911950.htm
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F00712FE3D590C768DDDAB0894DC404482
http://hanbooks.com/silmido.html

I know someone who has the DVD with English subtitles (and apparantly not [only] region 3 - but I don't know where they got it from... maybe yesasia?

Have you read the manga?
Nope, but I have heard it was good. My sister liked it a lot, and therefore does not want to watch the drama, because she's afriad it will tarnish the original manga version.

Err. "Hwajangshil"??? Is that "classy" or "uneducated"? ^^;;

XD That's the polite way, it literally means "powder room." My dad, after being corrected into saying "hwajangshil" instead of "byunso" (which literally means crap hole), decided to say it in English as well, until he actually asked "Where is the powder room?" and got a few chuckles before being directed toward the restrooms.

Interesting. Perhaps it's a case of emulation?

*curious* Where are your parents from in Korea? What kind of accent do they have?


Well, my dad came to the USA in his early teens, while my mom went to nursing school there before she came to the US. Plus, she's a woman and I assume it was considered more important for a woman to be well versed in politeness than a man.

I forget where my parents are from exactly... my father grew up in a fishing town and near Seoul. My mom grew up in the part of Korea that is known for talking very very slowly. My mom doesn't talk particularly slowly, but she doesn't talk as quickly as people from Seoul either.

What *is* an American accent in Korean, anyway? Besides not (in my case) not pronouncing the sets of consonants quite right all the time.

Most of the time, I hear the American accent in my vowels. I don't have the worst American accent, but I can hear it. It's a little more nasally and the vowels are a bit stronger - like the "o" or the "u."

If it's any consolation to you, by the end of my time in Korea, I could get into a taxi, name my destination, and *not* turn the ride into 20 questions from the taxi driver about Who I Am? Where Am I From? What Am I Doing In Korea? etc. Koreans in Korea don't listen for accents very hard if you have a Korean face, apparently.

That's good to hear. I heard from someone else that Korean looking people who were clearly not Korean citizens or fluent in Korean were treated worst by taxi drivers - not so much in their manner, but in how much they charged. Did you have any experiences with this?

Then again, some (though not most) Korean people have asked me if I'm Japanese (or have said that I look like I'm Japanese). Most Japanese people ask me if I'm Korean. And Chinese people tend to think I'm also Chinese.
14th-Aug-2005 11:07 pm (UTC) - Re: Tanith Lee
That's the polite way, it literally means "powder room."

Ah...that explains the resemblance to the word for cosmetics.

My mom grew up in the part of Korea that is known for talking very very slowly. My mom doesn't talk particularly slowly, but she doesn't talk as quickly as people from Seoul either.

Hmm. Sounds like a good place for language learners to go! ^_^ After living in Yeosu and going back to Seoul, I could hear a little bit of a difference in accent between the two places. People from Seoul had a slightly flatter, harsher way of talking, but I really wasn't able to detect anything more specific than that. And people from Yeosu always used the word "saengnim" as a form of address, which I've come to assume is dialectical.

Most of the time, I hear the American accent in my vowels.

My biggest problem vowel-wise was figuring out how to pronounce "eo." I still don't know exactly...

I heard from someone else that Korean looking people who were clearly not Korean citizens or fluent in Korean were treated worst by taxi drivers - not so much in their manner, but in how much they charged. Did you have any experiences with this?

Well, I used taxis when I was in Seoul with my parents quite a bit, and they weren't heinously overcharged or taken all over the city blindly. But then, I was with them, and maybe the drivers were on "good" behavior. All taxis in Korea these days have meters, anyway, so it's not like they're going to rob you blind.

The ones who realized I was a foreigner were all of the 20 questions sort; apparently taxi drivers outside of Seoul are more friendly overall. Or so the other ETAs said. In any case, I rode taxis maybe a dozen times while in Korea and never had a bad experience.
16th-Aug-2005 02:53 pm (UTC) - Venus Quartet
The last two books of the series-- A BED OF EARTH and VENUS PRESERVED are among her best.
16th-Aug-2005 04:24 pm (UTC) - Re: Venus Quartet
Thanks for the recommendation! I have both books sitting as of yet unread and will definitely get to them soon.
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