Hello folks, Mark here:
Maybe it is just me, but it seems like there is just a whole lot of 'noise' going on right now in the 'real' world, the publishing world, the convention world--practically every sphere of life as I see it has individuals or groups screeching support or invective about something.
Frankly, it is getting so loud on so many fronts that I fear the din will keep me from my words. I have a novel to edit/revise, and a fourth one to finish planning and execute. And yet everywhere I turn its political cess-pool this, Russia in the Crimea, bodies in Syria, knife attacks in China, and various boycotts of convention toast masters, genre publications and nominating judges for SFF awards that...
And we wonder why we fall prey to cynicism.
When the world gets like this, one could argue that it is ALWAYS like this and just our awareness changes, then I find myself looking for a project or a book to help quiet the roar, so to speak.
I try to escape into the silence of another mind as means to get myself back on track. For some folks its meditation, others rely on faith driven tracts, and still others go for music. I've used all three at various times in my life, and yet as I trundle along, spending the decades of my middle years, I find I resort to books and certain authors the most. Cornwell's feaux history Sharpe novels work for me. Tolkien has always been an anchor. There is something about a good wallow in the dust and reek of middle earth that leaves me feeling clean and ennobled. I do quite well with LeGuin's take on dragons and magic to reset my equilibrium.
But when I want silence I always go back to McKillip, and it doesn't matter much which novel or novels. I always find nuances of that poetic pause that shows me her mind, how it works, how she sees her imagined worlds. Reading her is to take a journey into the intimate. I'm dabbling with The Bards of Bone Plain and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld right now. I've come to appreciate how much cooking goes on in McKillip's stories. Bards is one of her latest, Beasts her first, and the motif stands up nicely. There is something about a well peeled carrot that speaks of non-thinking-being, an important part of a character's real flesh, as it were. Silence sits on the pages of her prose like a cat, poised and regal, assumes control of the window ledge.
And I don't refer to the narrow scope she places on her characters. To me, she writes "quiet" prose, much like LeGuin, that allows us to breathe in the syllables. I never suffer sensory overload when I read her stuff. When the pace of the world gets too much, I go back to McKillip. Who do you go to?