This week’s theme via That Artsy Reader Girl is “favourite book quotes” — which I’m pretty sure I’ve done before. So instead, I’ll put a tiny spin on it and pick out my favourite quotes from the last ten books I’ve read. I just skipped ones which aren’t very quotable… or which didn’t have Goodreads quotes yet, if I couldn’t immediately think of something.
Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke. “Perhaps that is what it is like being with other people. Perhaps even people you like and admire immensely can make you see the world in ways you would rather not.”
Invisible Women, by Caroline Criado-Perez. “It’s not always easy to convince someone a need exists, if they don’t have that need themselves.”
The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, by Dorothy L. Sayers. “Books… are like lobster shells, we surround ourselves with ’em, then we grow out of ’em and leave ’em behind, as evidence of our earlier stages of development.”
Utopia for Realists, by Rutger Brenman. “You can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you have no boots.”
Nine Coaches Waiting, by Mary Stewart. “There was one thing that stood like stone among the music and moonfroth of the evening’s gaieties. It was stupid, it was terrifying, it was wonderful, but it had happened and I could do nothing about it. For better or worse, I was head over ears in love.”
Driftwood, by Marie Brennan. “Paggarat was less doomed than they wagered, not because of how long it lasted but because of how it went out. Because of Aun and Esr, smiling at each other until the end of the world.”
The Grace of Kings, by Ken Liu. “Do you see how much power you have when you act without fear?”
The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon. “I do not sleep because I am not only afraid of the monsters at my door, but also of the monsters my own mind can conjure. The ones that live within.”
The Last Smile in Sunder City, by Luke Arnold. “I like books. They’re quiet, dignified and absolute. A man might falter but his words, once written, will hold.”
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, by Becky Chamber. “We cannot blame ourselves for the wars our parents start. Sometimes the very best thing we can do is walk away.”
I didn’t love all those books, but those quotes capture something that did work for me from each!
From the cover onwards, The Last Smile in Sunder City is a patchwork of influences. Ben Aaronovitch, obviously and brazenly; my bets are on Jim Butcher as well. And, if not directly from Raymond Chandler, then his brand of noir and his style of imagery — there’s something about his comparisons that make it feel like a cut-rate Phillip Marlowe. It’s a very readable book, even though Arnold doesn’t have the control of language that Chandler did (none of his coinages are as good as “shop-worn Galahad”, even though Fetch Phillips suits the description as well as Marlowe does).
Sunder City is just one city in a world that used to be full of magic, but the source of magic has been destroyed by humans. Elves have aged suddenly and cruelly, anyone who uses magic is bereft, vampires are shrivelling to nothing… and Fetch Phillips is a man for hire amidst all this, tracking down missing folks and contemplating oblivion, at the bottom of a bottle or a long, long drop.
You know from the start that Fetch has done something godawful, and you can see it coming in the flashbacks, and you kind of want to stop it or ameliorate it somehow — and that’s when I knew it was really working for me. Fetch is not a good person, but you can see in him the ability to be so much better than he is… and even though he keeps making the stupidest mistakes, and you know nothing can be alright for him again, you can’t help but hope along with him that he can salvage something.
I’m kind of eager to read the next book right now; I don’t know how much this first one will stick with me, but it was a quick and enjoyable read, and I’m really curious to see where Arnold goes next with Fetch.
The Last Smile in Sunder City, by Luke Arnold. The cover is so blatantly copying from Ben Aaronovitch’s fairly iconic covers that it raises my eyebrow every time, the narration is trying so hard to be Raymond Chandler without his absolute knowledge of where every word should go, and if Jim Butcher isn’t an influence as well I’ll eat my bookshelf. That said, it’s fun as well, and when it gives trying to coin a phrase a rest for five minutes, I’m settling into it well.
What have you recently finished reading?
The Woman in the Wardrobe, by Peter Shaffer, and before that, The Seventh Perfection. The latter is very cleverly narrated, and I really need to sit down and put my review into words before it slips away. I sense that the narration is going to drive a lot of people absolutely up the wall, but I thought everything was worked out pretty cleverly.
What will you be reading next?
There’s a good chance it’ll be one of the books I got for my birthday! The one I’m probably most excited about is Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art, by Rebecca Wragg Sykes… but The Contact Paradox (Keith Cooper) is also calling to me.