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09 August 2008 @ 11:28 pm
Some recs  
I suspect there will be more ranting later in the weekend, but I have had a lovely day and so I plan to end it with two recommendations.

First, an actual book.

Lonely Werewolf Girl
by Martin Millar (Soft Skull Press)
Millar has been one of my favourite writers since the mid-80s. Originally a mainstay of the independent comics scene, where he was one of the few writers  I would read despite some of my cluey friends correctly predicting that the graphic novel was the coming medium, he produced a series of acutely observed urban fantasies where gods and fairies, humans and heroes walked the streets of London beside students, musicians, artists and activists. From Milk Sulphate and Alby Salvation, through Lux the Poet and The Good Fairies of New York to Dreams of Sex and Stage Diving, he pioneered what others would interpret as grunge and herion chic while Kurt Cobain was still wearing neatly pressed slacks. And he did it all with a wry sense of humour that held genuine jokes, not just the selfconsciously witty footnoted intertextual play of other postmodern novelists.

His novels contained broken loves, solid friendships, hope and despair, and effective recipes for ersatz hair gel. Plus an inordinate amount of street fashion. I loved him, and missed him when it seemed as though he had stopped writing. As it turned out, he hadn't stopped, his publisher had just been bought out by a multinational that wasn't quite ready to promote someone whose characters incited the odd riot. Which is a shame, because Millar is the novelist that Neil Gaiman – an excellent teller of fairytales, but not a novelist – would like to be.

Lonely Werewolf Girl is a solid 558 pages of loveliness. Kalix, the youngest daughter of the Thane of a Scottish werewolf clan, is on the run after nearly killing her father. He former lover has been exiled, her brothers and sisters want nothing to do with her (and indeed have their own problems) and she is being pursued both by human werewolf hunters and by her own kin who wish to bring her, or her heart, back home.

When she falls into the company of two young students, it seems an accident of the moment, and she is soon gone, with hunters in pursuit. For Moonglow and Daniel, though, Kalix is a lost young creature who needs their help. Albeit one that has supernatural strength and a ferocious bloodlust to accompany her eating disorder.

Thanks to the two young humans, Kalix's family start to cross her path. Thrix, her older sister, is a nearly famous fashion designer, whose best friend is a fire elemental and who cares less for moonlight wolfiness than she does for this season's shoe leathers. All she wants to do is complete her collections and watch this year's shows, if only she could keep her family at bay.

Markus, her older brother, would be the next Thane, if only his older brother didn't stand in his way. His girlfriend is yet to learn about his transvestism, though, so it may not have been the best idea for him to try on her clothes before leaving the house.

Their eldest brother, Sarapen, is everything a werewolf should be: pompous, arrogant, and happy to rip your throat out, especially if you're Kalix.  He has the succession sewn up, so he thinks, it only requires the requisite votes from the family. Sadly, he's failed to factor in the machinations of their mother, Verasa, who favours Markus.

Dominil, white-haired cousin to Kalix and her siblings, is interested only in translating Roman poets, and has hated Sarapen since the bad end of their love affair. When Verasa enlists her to support Markus's bid for Thaneship she thinks it will entail a vote, and is happy to help. When she ends up managing the chaotic rock careers of her cousins Beauty and Delicious, she realises there are levels of hell that even Roman poets didn't mention.

All the strands weave in and out of each other as the great werewolf feud spills out from the Highlands of Scotland and through the streets of London, and where there are enemies and ex-lovers around every corner. And while love may be doomed in this world, friendship and loyalty aren't. Millar never once loses sight of where everyone is and what they are doing, and his voice is a constant delight throughout the text.

Thrix read the band's set list with interest.
"Stupid Werewolf Bitch? Evil White-Haired Slut?" She laughed. "They wrote two songs about you."
"Three," said Dominil. "They encore with Vile Werewolf Whore."

And a fic rec.
shiv5468's Miserable Gits Club has a new chapter up. I read the whole story again earlier today in a bid to reassure myself that there was good het fic in the world. It worked. Hermione finds that life after saving the world is neither as fair nor as fun as she was expecting it to be. Harry and Ron are busy Auroring, so it is left to unexpected allies to come to her aid.

Lucius Malfoy is now very aware of the full extent of his stupidity, thank you very much. If there is one thing he can be proud of in the last year it's the fact that he has been a loyal friend to Severus Snape as he recovers from his near-death at Nagini's fangs. When fate throws Lucius in the way of helping the girl he watched his sister-in-law torture, he finds himself rising to the occasion. Pun quite possibly intended.

As for Severus, he's spent 20 years beating himself for a deep failure of judgement, and one year feeling as though a snake tried to rip his throat out. Now he spends his days in the conservatory at Malfoy Manor, surrounded by orchids and vaguely contemplating what comes next. The sudden intrusion of an unexpected figure from his previous life starts his shift into something new, and the closing of some things old.

The whole story has that fine quality of Shiv fic; surface gloss and polish only serves to show deep reflections. Like Wilde, her mannered dialogue is the polite patter of social nicety, not for a second hiding the pain, possibility and hope that each character nurses. Chapter six, which is freshly up, is genuinely beautiful. Without for a moment stepping away from their canonical characterisations, she presents a Lucius and Severus who evoke empathy and a wish that they might find calm and peace.

Note well the fact that canon is still well in place – there is snarkiness and tricksiness abungo, and for every moment of honesty, several of amusing duplicity, but, like Martin Millar, Shiv writes stories that have genuine affection at heart. And it shows in every elegantly constructed line. Whether you read it for the glorious style, or for the Deep Thinking underneath it, is up to you.
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maggie: HP luciusmarguerite_26 on August 9th, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC)
I just started Miserable Gits Club this morning! Squee!!!

It is fabulous. God, I love the dynamic of those three.
Thanks so much for the rec.

::goes back to reading::
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 9th, 2008 02:25 pm (UTC)
I read it over a long dinner and felt very happy about life at the end. It's like a walk up a hill to a good view. And yes, she writes fabulous dynamics!
Shivshiv5468 on August 9th, 2008 03:54 pm (UTC)
~blushes~

I'm really going to make an effort to track that man's books down.
pingridpingrid on August 9th, 2008 06:12 pm (UTC)
Both Amazon and play.com have them, so not much effort is needed unless you prefer to buy them used or from a physical bookshop. :)

I'm reading Miserable Gits Club now, haven't got far yet but I'm really enjoying it so far!
Shivshiv5468 on August 9th, 2008 06:23 pm (UTC)
I've seen Good Fairies of New York in the bookshop, been tempted, and then put it back, on the basis that it's set in New York.

I hope you like the rest of it.
pingridpingrid on August 9th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
Ha! Yes, I suppose if a New York setting is a dealbreaker then a book called Good Fairies of New York won't make the cut. ;)

And I believe I will!
Shivshiv5468 on August 9th, 2008 06:44 pm (UTC)
I was on a course about writing urban myths at the time, which was supposed to be based round London, but turned out to be going on and on about New York, so it is a touch of a deal breaker. I spent a term reading self-conscious up your own arse bollocks and developed a bit of a nervous twitch
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 10th, 2008 03:13 am (UTC)
If it's any comfort, the fairies are all Celtic.

He's more up someone else's arse than his own ... which is usually entertaining.
Shivshiv5468 on August 10th, 2008 10:04 am (UTC)
I shall peruse a couple of pages, but if he is crap, I shall recc some het to you.

Oh yes I will.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 10th, 2008 12:21 pm (UTC)
He has an idiosyncratic voice, but is far from crap. And I am on to you, young lady.
Shivshiv5468 on August 10th, 2008 12:24 pm (UTC)
YOu just think you know my tricksy ways, but I have tricksier ones, oh yes.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 10th, 2008 12:29 pm (UTC)
*Narrows eyes, checks under sofa with mirror*
Shivshiv5468 on August 10th, 2008 12:34 pm (UTC)
~looks innocent, and hides evidence~
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 10th, 2008 12:35 pm (UTC)
*Finds only fish. Concedes it's possible that was the cats*
prilbrum: treeprilbrum on August 9th, 2008 08:56 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to hear more about Martin Millar as I didn't know anything about him, even though I did read the Lonely Werewolf Girl a few months ago. It took me a few chapters to get hooked, as I didn't know if the author was intentionally being simple an operatic and young until I was into it a bit and realized how clever and tongue in cheek it all was. I very much enjoyed the read as the story progressed and I found it more complex than I thought it initially promised to be. Now with a bit of the history you have given, I'm intrigued and plan to pursue some of his other works. Thank you!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 10th, 2008 03:13 am (UTC)
He does have a very idiosyncratic style, but I really enjoy it. Good Fairies might be the best to read next, as it has a few strands that cross over with werewolf girl, and then maybe Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation and Lux the Poet, as they crossover a bit, too, before the others, which are all more stand alone.

Thank you for allowing me to spread the word!
Pureblood Princessraitala on August 10th, 2008 07:12 am (UTC)
I just read The Miserable Gits Club last night. Thanks for the rec, I would never have read it otherwise. It's been ages since I read anything that wasn't H/D (AS/S doesn't really count). I really enjoyed it - the change in dynamic is really refreshing and it's great writing, so thanks!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 10th, 2008 12:30 pm (UTC)
Oh I'm glad! It is good, isn't it? I knew there was a reason I put up with Shiv's general abuse.
Shivshiv5468 on August 10th, 2008 12:35 pm (UTC)
Oi!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 10th, 2008 12:38 pm (UTC)
I can't hear you from here
Shivshiv5468 on August 10th, 2008 12:40 pm (UTC)
I think you can or you wouldn't know that there was something you were ostensibly not hearing.

Now go to bed!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 10th, 2008 12:44 pm (UTC)
I will. I think some whisky and lemon might be curative and so will make a glass first.

You know I harass with love ...
Shivshiv5468 on August 10th, 2008 12:46 pm (UTC)
I'd leave out the lemon. Dangerous stuff, fruit.

ANd I quibble with affection
shadowclubshadowclub on August 11th, 2008 06:26 am (UTC)
These both sound amazing! Ah, I have way too much on my to read list... as always, but I must admit I've made a rather big dent in it in the past month so I don't feel too bad about adding these on!