threemonkeys: (Waxlion)
The American Football season started over the weekend. In fact Monday night football is playing as I write this. At one stage I was quite a serious fan of this sport. I made sure I watched all the games shown here and even took the day off to watch the superbowl. These days my enthusiasm has rather waned a bit. I still watch a few games and appreciate it. As a sport it has the big advantage that it does not interfere with good reading time - a bit like cricket in that respect. The thing is, I could not really consider myself a proper fan any more.

I have not reached that point with the works of Joe Haldeman - yet. I have just finished reading Old Twentieth and have decidedly mixed feelings about it. "Mixed" being my reaction to his other recent works too. First the good stuff. Joe does have a great prose style - he really knows how to construct a sentence that just flows easily through the eyes and into the brain. He uses this prose style to construct solid believable characters and give a good sense of reality to his worlds. And then there is his justly celebrated ability to convey the brutality of war. All these skills were on display in Old Twentieth.

With all that going for him, you might well wonder what the problem is. I do have a bit of a quibble with the over-complexity of the setting, but the main issue is with the story being told. The plot is thin and predictable with a twist that is predictable from the very beginning. Joe's obsessions with immortality and omnipotent guardian angels makes yet another appearance too. It feels like a short story plot stretched out to novel length. How else do you explain a chapter spent describing how to catch and prepare a duck for cooking. A chapter that contributes nothing to the progress of the story or even to character development. It did have the effect of reminding me of preparing ducks for cooking (or freezing) when I was a kid. Not one of my great childhood memories but not a particularly bad one either - it just isn't that interesting an activity.

So am I going to keep reading the works of Joe Haldeman? Yes, for all the reasons in the "good stuff" above. But it will be a reserved fandom, not a big enthusiasm. In the meantime, back to the football (Minnesota currently leading Washington 16-13).

P.S. - for those following my other football interests - South Canterbury have now won 2 and lost 2 in the heartland championship.


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June 2015

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