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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..."
The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz by Russell Hoban 
2nd-Mar-2006 08:12 pm
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Author Russell Hoban recommended to me by ren_aleria. Below title selected at random from what was available on the cheap. (Sometimes cheap works, and sometimes it doesn't. It didn't here.)

I'm in the mood for something fun, goddammit, FUN! Is that so much to ask??? T_T

Hoban, Russell. The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz. 1973. London: Bloomsbury, 2000.
Summary: In a world where lions are extinct, middle-aged mapmaker Jachin-Boaz leaves home with a special map of everything promised to his son Boaz-Jachin. Angry, the son revives a lion-king, which then appears mysteriously to Jachin-Boaz, and sets off after his father. Jachin-Boaz has an affair with a younger woman and impregnates her. Boaz-Jachin has a number of flings and experiences a sexual awakening that leads to maturity. Father and son are reunited, the lion that symbolizes their anger over the father-son relationship disappears, and, presumably, both go off somewhere together.
Comments: You know, I don't mind passably-written head trips (possibly drug-inspired--a lot of the old British fantasy lit was, after all--or inspired by drug-inspired scribblings), but what I DO mind are insipid, chest-thumping meditations on the relationship between masculinity and family when it is laced with a heavy dose of misogyny. Every, and I do mean EVERY, female in this short novel was a sexual object to either Boaz-Jachin or Jachin-Boaz's subject. The former manages to sow his "wild oats" every which way on his sea- and roadtrip without ever forming a lasting relationship with any one girl. The latter leaves his wife (who becomes suicidal...and probably won't take him back, either, after all is said and done) for a younger woman, gets her pregnant, and decides to up and leave before she's even a month into it. All in all, a small-minded work whose complex imagery and maunderings of lion and wheel distract from the rather banal message that we can be pissed off about life circumstances, but we can't halt life's progression.
Notes: trade paperback, 1st printing
Rating: 3/10 - Not a father-son story I'll be recommending to anyone any time soon.
Comments 
3rd-Mar-2006 01:20 am (UTC)
King Rat from China Mieville is pretty fun thus far. I'm tearing through it, despite having negative time in which to read. ^_^
3rd-Mar-2006 01:23 am (UTC)
I've never read any of her(?) work before.

BTW, how was The Vesuvius Club?
3rd-Mar-2006 01:24 am (UTC)
His. I think...

Vesuvius Club was an absolute delight of an over-the-top Edwardian mystery with flavors of both Bond and the absurd. I need a dozen more like it.
3rd-Mar-2006 01:26 am (UTC)
His. I think...

50/50 chance...dammit...

Vesuvius Club was an absolute delight of an over-the-top Edwardian mystery with flavors of both Bond and the absurd.

Heh, I thought you'd like it. The wait for Vol. 2 is gonna kill me.
3rd-Mar-2006 01:29 am (UTC)
I was quite distressed to discover that it wasn't even available for preorder yet. I think these books are going to fall into the very short category of "books I must have the instant they are released."
3rd-Mar-2006 01:55 am (UTC)
*grimaces* I don't even nurture that category anymore, period...and there's no way I'm paying Amazon UK to get that book. I figure the American version will come out late in '07. :P
3rd-Mar-2006 02:21 am (UTC)
T_T ...well, I can understand what you say (especially the misogyny, but at the same time I interperted the book differently. Hoban's a strange one and I think I liked Lion the least of what I have read by him, but I didn't hate it and I also believe that father and son didn't return home. Hoban wrote this shortly after emigrating to England from the United States and when he did his marriage to his first wife ended (she and their three daughters and one son remained in the States) and Hoban met his second wife, Gundula. With that knowledge I think the context and motives in the book are a little clear.
3rd-Mar-2006 03:12 am (UTC)
So he was bitter. That figures. It doesn't excuse the misogyny, though, and I'm getting the whole dirty old man with younger female as sexual object vibe from the next of his on my pile as well. It doesn't appeal.
3rd-Mar-2006 09:08 am (UTC)
It's actually my favourite of the Hoban books I've read so far.

Before writing him off I'd give one of his other books a go. Maybe The Bat Tattoo.
3rd-Mar-2006 03:12 pm (UTC)
It's actually my favourite of the Hoban books I've read so far.

Which one? The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz?

Before writing him off I'd give one of his other books a go. Maybe The Bat Tattoo.

I have that one. I'll try that one next.
3rd-Mar-2006 03:14 pm (UTC)
Which one? The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz?

Yes.

I have that one. I'll try that one next.

But since you've hated two of his books it's possibly not worth trying another. I liked Riddley Walker too.
3rd-Mar-2006 03:29 pm (UTC)
But since you've hated two of his books it's possibly not worth trying another.

I've read many authors over the years whose writing I either love or hate, depending upon which book in question I'm reading! The trick for new authors is to find what I like...but I'm not always very good at that. For example, the last time I did that (for Neal Drinnan), I hated the first two books I read and enjoyed the third.

Unless you think that all Russell Hoban has to offer as a writer is already encompassed in the two books of his I've read thus far?
3rd-Mar-2006 03:40 pm (UTC)
I think that Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz is the most poetic of his boks, the most beautifully written. I think it shows his prose style at its best.

The Bat Tattoo is closer to being a realist novel, although there's still a touch of the magic realist kind of thing there.

But I didn't really get that misogynist vibe from Lion, so I'm really hesitant to recommend that you read another of his books. The Bat Tattoo has two protagonists, one of them a woman, so it's perhaps not quite so much told from a male point of view.

I tend to value style over everything else, so if an author can write gorgeous prose that's enough for me, I don't ask for anything more.
3rd-Mar-2006 03:46 pm (UTC)
I think that Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz is the most poetic of his boks, the most beautifully written.

The Medusa Frequency struck me as far more innovative and interesting prose-wise; The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz by comparison read like a children's fantasy novel on occasion, literary, but still a touch of children's prose styling.

But I didn't really get that misogynist vibe from Lion, so I'm really hesitant to recommend that you read another of his books.

It was inadvertent misogyny, not deliberate. I'm not sure which would've been worse.

I tend to value style over everything else, so if an author can write gorgeous prose that's enough for me, I don't ask for anything more.

*nods* If you can overlook the underlying issues, I'm sure his writing would be most enjoyable.

For me, valuing style alone in novels is like saying Hitler was a good orator. I need the whole package--great writing, entertainment value, AND a theme/writer intent that I'm comfortable with.
3rd-Mar-2006 03:52 pm (UTC)
but still a touch of children's prose styling.

He does write children's books.
3rd-Mar-2006 03:54 pm (UTC)
For me, valuing style alone in novels is like saying Hitler was a good orator. I need the whole package--great writing, entertainment value, AND a theme/writer intent that I'm comfortable with.

For me, style is so rare that I'm happy to sacrifice everything else to get it. If a book has interesting themes and a clever plot and fascinating characters as well then that's a bonus.
3rd-Mar-2006 04:00 pm (UTC)
He does write children's books.

*nods* I know.

For me, style is so rare that I'm happy to sacrifice everything else to get it.

Really? In general or in the fantasy genres? I've encountered so many well-written "literary" novels over the past few months alone that it's overwhelming. In genre fiction, good writing is a LOT harder to come by in my experience.

Now that I think about it, in Hoban's case, inadvertent was more damaging than deliberate. I've read many novels involving exploitative relationships, pedophilia, fetishes, etc. but in all those cases, the atuhors knew exactly what they were doing with those issues and why--and I didn't mind it there. Hmm...
3rd-Mar-2006 04:07 pm (UTC) - my weird tastes
Really? In general or in the fantasy genres?

Especially in fantasy, and even more especially in science fiction where decent prose is almost unknown.

Mind you, I have peculiar and specialised tastes. I like writers like Clark Ashton Smith. I like purple prose. I love prose that is lush and exotic. I don't believe there's any such thing as prose that is too ornate. I like E. R. Eddison, and prose doesn't come much more ornate and artificial than that.
3rd-Mar-2006 04:12 pm (UTC) - Re: my weird tastes
Especially in fantasy, and even more especially in science fiction where decent prose is almost unknown.

Ah, okay, well, yeah, if we classify Hoban as a fantasy writer, then he's definitely a seasame seed on the upper crust. I honestly don't read as much sci-fi and fantasy as I used to because I've gotten so picky about literary quality.

Have you ever read Geoff Ryman? His work has favorably impressed me, recently.
3rd-Mar-2006 04:19 pm (UTC) - Re: my weird tastes
I read very little fantasy or SF these days. I seem to be reading mostly non-fiction these days. Plus I've started reading crime novels - but not the horrible modern ones that are all serial killers and getting off on violence towards women. I'm finding some surprisingly interesting prose styles in this genre, in books like Edward Anderson's Thieves Like Us and William Gresham's Nightmare Alley. I started reading crime because I wanted to explore another genre.

3rd-Mar-2006 04:20 pm (UTC) - Geoff Ryman
I have one of Geoff Ryman's books but haven't read it, mainly because I've been avoiding SF lately. The Child Garden have you read that one?
3rd-Mar-2006 04:27 pm (UTC) - Re: Geoff Ryman
I've been working on various lists of "great literature" that I've found online in order to sew up some holes in my literary experience. (Hence the gay/lesbian fiction of late.) It's depressing when I remind myself what I haven't yet read...

I have one of Geoff Ryman's books but haven't read it, mainly because I've been avoiding SF lately. The Child Garden have you read that one?

No, but I have it on the pile. The best thing I've read so far by Ryman is Was...though Lust was also really clever in how it took your stereotypical male fantasy and just RAN with it.

I suspect, though, given his track record, that The Child Garden is excellent; it was published by St. Martin's Press in the US, and they tend to put out high-quality stuff.
1st-Apr-2006 01:20 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
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