Urban fantasy reading wrap-up

We limped through Murakami today. This class, more than classes past, consistently had trouble getting the work done, and several hadn’t finished. Many liked Kafka on the Shore, though some liked it strictly for the Nakata narrative. I need to find a shorter Murakami, I suspect. Voted off the syllabus in a lopsided vote was the wonderful Magic for Beginners. The sort of narrative play Kelly Link is so good at annoyed some of these guys no end, and several felt that two short story collections was one too many, and Jeff Ford was a more user-friendly weird. The favorite, of course, was Anansi Boys, though once again Perfect Circle had its share of fans. Many like the pairing of Sixth Sense and Perfect Circle. My copy of the novel is falling apart, however. Maybe Small Beer Press should send me a freebie. As for Anansi Boys, I’m probably ready for a different Gaiman. Or maybe it’s time for all new courses. I’m open to suggestions.

21 thoughts on “Urban fantasy reading wrap-up

  1. Horror is De Haven’s domain. But he teaches it, what? Twice a century?

    Take it over, Dennis! You could duel for it outside 306.

    Or you could become BFF with Cory Doctorow and teach a class entirely on Steampunk. I hear the kids these days go batshit for brass cogs.

    I still don’t understand the love for Anansi Boys. I was tired about half way through. Apparently, Gaiman thought he was writing a novella, but his editor said “Naaaah, make it a novel!”

    There is always Christopher Moore…

  2. As one of the students in this class, I really liked the class the way it is now. I think you should teach the books/movies that you enjoy teaching. You can’t please all of us all the time. Maybe using movies that the students are less likely to have seen, like Harvey, would mix it up a little.

  3. Horror, I confess, is a genre I’m not qualified to teach, even if I did once write a werewolf novel (body count=1). I have thought of teaching an sf class built entirely around one tropeÒ€”robots, time travel, or aliens, and rotating them. As for urban fantasy, I’m fairly happy with the structure of the class now. Thanks Heather, though you might agree that the constant quest for shorter books is a worthy goal. I likely will use Harvey or something like it in the future, especially if I keep opening with a Gaiman book. His debt to that era of fantasy is huge. Heather, shouldn’t you be getting some sleep? You have a final to take today!

  4. Hey Dennis.

    I’d agree with Heather in getting a lesser known film to view, even if you just wind up getting one, and even as I love(d) the class, as is. It was fun, informative, and engaging. It was really nice to have a professor (such as yourself) that was willing to really widely DISCUSS things with a class! I’ve missed that (as the only other professor to do that so far has been Susann Cokal). πŸ™‚ Hmmmmm. I wonder if that’s a super secret “writer-teacher”-only kind of thing. πŸ˜‰

    Anyhoo, the older, the better, for the film choices. In fact, go back into the 30’s if need be. Now, THOSE were some classics. In fact, I think that you could even try pairing up movies and book by decade created in (after all, urban fantasy, as a literary form, has been around for a while, yeah?) So, for Harvey, you could try and get a book that was written around then and that used the same literary vein.

    That way, you could start travelling up from the 30’s or 40’s and end up in the 80’s or 90’s, thus tracking how urban fantasy has evolved and changed as a mini-genre as the years have progressed. Who knows?

    This could be just the twist that makes things a bit fresh for ya again, and might get even more English or film majors interested. πŸ˜‰ Just an idea of course. πŸ™‚

    Well – Have a good one, and a nice break too! πŸ™‚

  5. I would sooooo take that class, That would be really cool. Sharma, I see you can keep it short, even in blogs. πŸ™‚ But, I guess I will have to wait untill next summer.Dennis, unless you can get the powers that be to let you teach a small class during the fall/spring.

  6. Perhaps in the spring. If I’m going to do some older fantasy, I’ll have to throw in some James Branch Cabell. Gaiman’s a big fan of his. I read him ages ago long before I came to Richmond in a medieval romance class. Odd, interesting stuff.

  7. Hey Dennis. I’m glad and quite ballyhooed that you liked my idea. πŸ™‚ Now, if you can just FIND them all still in print or in film archives or something, then we’d REALLY be talking. πŸ˜‰ I’d take the class again in a heartbeat.

    Hey Heather. You should see my livejournal. Now THAT is lengthy. *grin* Give me a ring some time: 804-651-6362. That way, we can keep in touch. πŸ˜‰

  8. Hey Dennis. Again. *lol*

    I didn’t know you had read some of Cabell’s stuff too. I read his Jurgen (found it at an old-timey mom-and-pop thrift/bookshop a while back) and The First Gentleman of America: A Comedy of Conquest. And I loved both. They were indeed a bit odd though. Especially the language he used and HOW he used. Great reads in any case! Loved the irony of the latter book in particular…

    What’s your favorite Cabell work though? Do you like his more so-called historical works or his more fantasy-laced novels, like Jurgen? Just curious.

    Oh & Topper (both the book and film series versions) seems like a definite winner! πŸ™‚

  9. It’s been years, but I read Figures of the Earth, Silver Stallion, and Cream of the Jest, if memory serves. I liked Cream of the Jest best (not surprisingly) with its blend of fantastic and modern settings. He also wrote some criticism, the title of which escapes me, that’s quite interesting for his heretical views on realism. I’m sure the library’s special collections is full of goodies on James Branch.

  10. The library IS full of Cabell-scented goodies. Unfortunately though, you can’t just check them out like talking about it. At least, I couldn’t. Maybe it’s that whole undergrad-vs.-grad stigma thing or something. I wish they’d quit that and give the same privileges to ALL students. It would be more fair anyway.

    Cream of the Jest seems interesting. The way you described it sounds like it may be a bit like The Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter Straub. I don’t know if you’ve read it before, but it’s about this kid, Jack Sawyer, who can travel between our (modern) world and this “otherworld” called the Territories. (Yep, there ARE quite a few Huck Finn references within as well…;))

    Cabell Criticism though? Did he not like “true realism? Or did he just have an uncommon view of it? And was it a whole book or just an essay? Might it have been called Special Delivery: A Packet of Replies?

  11. He wrote a book of essays called Beyond Life. One of them stuck in my head. I read Cabell, let’s see, in 1980 or ’81. Needless to say, I’d have to brush up on him.

  12. Oh. Ok. Sounds really interesting though. And 1980 is pretty far back in the day. So – no worries. πŸ™‚ Maybe I’ll brush up too. Somehow. πŸ˜‰

  13. There’s tons of apocalypse to choose from: The Road, Children of Men, Dr. Strangelove, Canticle for Leibowitz, Mad Max, etc. Might be a tad depressing, don’t you think? Though having said that, my own effort at apocalypse, End of Days, ends on quite the positive note.

  14. See! You could teach yourself. It’d be fantastic! You do end on a rather positive note. Which would be a great counterpoint to…well…everything else in the genre.

    I was a terribly anxious child. So acutely aware of the political climate I was born into, and paralyzed by the prospect of global thermonuclear war.

    And now with those days of MAD over…Well I just don’t know what to do with myself.

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