Archive for The Stress of Her Regard

2008 Reading Project

Posted in Reading List with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2017 by jaclemens

I joined Goodreads in April 2008 and began adding titles right away to my to-read shelf. These titles were the books I most wanted to read, foremost on my list, and yet some of them can still be found lingering in to-read limbo today. I realized that if I did not rectify this situation in 2017, I will be lamenting – not celebrating – my 10 year anniversary next spring!

Looking back on that first year, I read 44 books, many of them formative for my development as a book buyer. Three books by Michael Chabon (not my first, but it cemented his place as one of my favorite authors); three by Brandon Sanderson (ibid); The Book Thief; American Gods; Wicked; Reinhold Niebuhr and Isaac Bashevis Singer; and The Stress of Her Regard (one of my top ten favorite books), among other great reads. It was a tremendous year of reading for me, so it’s no slight on the books I didn’t get to in 2008.

Since then I have read plenty of books and added plenty more to my to-read list. From 2009 to 2011, I managed to move 20 more of my 2008 books from to-read to read (past tense), so it isn’t as if I forgot about the books that had earlier caught my eye. However, I have made no progress on that subset of books since re-reading The Stress of Her Regard in 2011. I wouldn’t say that I lost interest after three years – or that more appealing books intervened – but, for one reason or another, those books did not fit into my immediate reading plan.

In 2017, I will be reading 1-2 books each month from my 2008 list in order to finish the remaining 18 that have gone neglected for the last six years. I started my project in February with a pair of timely titles: 1984 by George Orwell and The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis. I plan to read a larger amount of new releases combined with other books that haven’t languished as long on my to-read list, but the 2008 books will provide the basis for my reading this year. I don’t anticipate writing a review for every book I read in 2017, but hopefully working through the books I wanted to read back then will help recapture some of the magic of buying and reading books in 2008!

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Below the Surface

Posted in Fiction, New release, Reading List, Recommendations with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2012 by jaclemens

I owe Charlene Brusso of Tachyon Publications for bringing Wonders of the Invisible World into my line of sight. I contacted her about getting an advance copy of The Emperor’s Soul, a new book by Brandon Sanderson, which she graciously sent me. Then she asked if I would like advances of two collections: Wonders of the Invisible World and Epic. I answered in the affirmative and she sent them along as well. I’m grateful for her suggestion, as I wouldn’t have picked them up otherwise. This cover art by Thomas Canty doesn’t grab me the same way the captivating cover of The Stress of Her Regard stopped me dead in my catalog-perusing tracks, but it is a lovely fit for these enchanting stories by Patricia A. McKillip. She’s a multiple-award winning author, but I must confess my ignorance of her writing until now. This isn’t the sort of book I would pick up in my own short-sightedness; it’s also the sort of magical realism I truly enjoy.  It’s the magic burbling up from the timeless wells deep under the earth. It’s the magic just below the surface of a painting or a pool. It’s the unseen magic of the ordinary that is more believable than the scientific explanation of a phenomenon. It’s the ancient magic of youth. It’s the magic of creation and curses. It’s the magic just beyond our view, and I’m glad to have caught a glimpse of it.

Regarding the Romantics

Posted in Fiction, Reading List, Recommendations, Top Ten with tags , , , , , on October 24, 2011 by jaclemens

According to Keats, “The excellence of every Art is its intensity.” To this I would add the mark of an excellent work of art is in its implicitly directing you to others of its kind. As such The Stress of Her Regard is excellent, in that it lead me, like Michael Crawford, to explore Keats, Shelley, and Byron. My second reading was therefore far better informed (from reading their letters in particular). In some respects this was unveiling the man behind the curtain, but it served to transform the fascination of a reader into the admiration of a writer. I also took some satisfaction in being able to visualize Byron’s fencing maneuvers this time, as I took an elementary fencing class shortly after my first reading. After reading “A Time to Cast Away Stones” I paid particular attention to Edward John Trelawny the second time through. The Stress of Her Regard is intense and excellent and remains one of my all-time favorites!

The Stress of Her Regard review

Posted in Recommendations, reviews with tags , , , , , , , on September 4, 2008 by jaclemens

Fans of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (such as myself) sit up and take note: Tachyon Publications has reissued The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers.  Originally published in 1989, this is a dark, decadent, Romantic fantasy.  That’s Romantic with a capital R, as Byron, Keats, and Shelley are all characters in this immensely imagined and thoroughly researched novel.  The protagonist, one Michael Crawford, is carousing the night before his wedding when he places his intended’s ring on the finger of a marble statue for safe keeping.  His intentions fail his intended; she is brutally murdered on their wedding night.  Crawford flees from the authorities and his ghastly memories straight into the company of the poets and the demonic nephelim which regard them.  In exchange for inspiring their greatest literary works, the nephelim (or lamia) preserve their lives while demolishing the lives of everyone they hold dear.  Many authors have noted that there is blood on their pages; in The Stress of Her Regard Powers takes that metaphor to its furthest extent.  This book is utterly fantastic.  I’m placing it in my top ten, and I’m going to brush up on my Keats and Shelley to see if I can trace the incredible connections which Powers made into a phenomenal novel.