Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

June Books 7) This Is Me, Jack Vance (Or, More Properly, This Is 'I'), by Jack Vance

I haven't read a lot of Vance's work - just The Dying Earth and The Last Castle - but I've enjoyed what I've read, and considering the fascinating material that 90-year-old Frederik Pohl is putting on his blog these days, I was rather looking forward to reading this volume of reminiscences by Vance, who is a couple of years older.

Unfortunately it's just not a very interesting book. The best bit is the early material about growing up during the Depression (Vance was born in 1916), but apart from that it's a sequence of dinners, holidays, parties, jazz concerts, enumerated in detail without much reflection. To give one example, I have seen the story of the Jack Vance / Frank Herbert / Poul Anderson houseboat told in several other places, and told better. To give another, Vance has been blind for the last twenty years (including when writing all his later books starting with Lyonesse), and while I shall bear in mind his extensive listing of mystery genre wriiters whose whork he enjoys listening to on audio, it would have been interesting to read something more profound about the effect of the loss of one of the five senses on the writer. A line about the distinctive smell of Irish peat is used twice. We really don't learn much about Vance the man, and even less about Vance the writer; and those like me who really only know him through his writing won't feel any the wiser after reading this.

I usually like biography/autobiography as a genre, but between this and St Thérèse I have not been lucky this week!
Tags: bookblog 2010, writer: jack vance

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