Makes them come aliveThis is a marvel of a book and especially to be reading it now during the COVID 19 pandemic it gives me hope that the best of people will prevail and find a way through I also read this with some sadness as I had to cancel a ong planned trip to Florence this spring due to the pandemic and uarantine But Walton s story gave me hope I will get there in the end I have never read this author before so this is my first experience with her although I have heard so much about her that I ve been wanting to try her for a while This book immediately sucked me in the writing between Sylvia and her character is ovely and the author is truly gifted In a short amount of time I fell in ove with the character and Sylvia the sign of a good writer Then we started to get into the Illyria side of things and I found it of a struggle to get through I didn t enjoy that side of the story as much although I know why it was necessary those chapters just draggedI think overall the book is brilliant and a powerful ove story to books It kept me thinking about it for a while after I closed it but I just wish I could have spent time with Sylvia and a Dona Flor littleess in IllyriaI am definitely intrigued by this author and will read There are two dangers I ve discovered in my decades of reading in the evocation of Shakespeare in fiction One is of course that many readers have avoided Shakespeare ever since that horrible class in high school in which you endured multiple choice uestions about who was who and who said what in which act I ve found behind nearly every Shakespear yeccch comment a badly taught class The second danger is one for the reader familiar with the plays the echoes of brilliant words and complex emotions can totally overwhelm the actual novel in your hand Harold Bloom addressed this in his Anxiety of InfluenceBut then along comes this novel in which the prose is so ovely so image rich and full of allusion as well as illusion the Shakespearean ayer is ike the sun meeting the fountain Add in vivid word pictures of Florence and intriguing bits of Florentine history blended with breathtaking felicity through fandom and science fiction and fantasy overs reality and beingI think of this as a writer s book Not that the reader must be a writer to enjoy it I don t think that s true but the meta woven so beautifully and poignantly through the novel will get into a writer s head in the most delicious way At Sono with Visits from the Seventh least it did mine Though I do think that the reader unfamiliar with Shakespeare would do well toook at synopses of Twelfth Night and The TempestWalton s books are all uite different from one another except for their examination of a theme running through most of her recent fiction humans discovering how to be better humans How this works out in story form is one of the many delights to be discovered here To read this especially in this year of total crazy freighted insight and motivation generosity of thought and connection in a way so effective that I know I l be returning to it again slowly It s always unfair to rate books I haven t finished but I need a system to remind me whether I hated the book or whether it wasn t perhaps the right time for me to read it and I ought to think about revisiting it in the future So that s what this is The fact that this book is marketed as fantasy is shockingly ill advisedThis isn t a fantasy novel because those have a plot structure
characters and conventions This book is a iterary postmodern meditation masuerading as metafiction masuerading as fantasy Whileand conventions This book is a iterary postmodern meditation masuerading as metafiction masuerading as fantasy While ayering may well be enjoyable to the right crowd of readers marketing it as fantasy just demonstrates the publisher didn t know what to do with it and then came up with the idea while being drunk But it made sense at the timeMarketing is all about setting the right expectations in readers and making sure the product ands with the right audienceThe book is a Umberto Eco esue collage of rambly meditations mixed with real world history with pseudo alternate history and pseudo and with iterary reference porn it s porn when there s so much of it that it amounts to parading Alternatively it s a Chuck and Danielle loose collection of essays that have been Arc Welded into aoose story that s dishing out 3000 references per minute while talking about something unconnected That s maybe not bad if you know all the references but it does not a book make What it makes is a very Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old long inside joke between the writer and the several hundred people who have exactly the same pool of references provided that those people enjoy being briefly mentioned things they already knowike in some sort of trivia contest It s Dogs Behaving Badly: An A-Z Guide to Understanding and Curing Behavorial Problems in Dogs like if I wrote a book where all my friends would make cameos where nothing happens which renders the book enjoyable to my inner circle of friends who amuse themselves with guessing who s who but makes it virtually trash to everyone elseAnd all of it is topped with a metatextual approach of meditativeiterary commentary Exactly Gray Bishop like initerature class but cleverer I guess Also a ot ooserWith this is mind it should be clear why it s misinformation to classify the book as fantasyThe problem with misclassifying is that the book gets to the wrong audience I m not the right audience I find the references and facts in the book interesting the fantasy bits nice and the rambly meditation writing style that connects the two both unnecessary and tedious I d ike to read the facts as facts and the fiction as fiction but the mix makes me want to say get to the point already But the point is that the book needs to be enjoyed in the style it s written in which reuires a certain type of reader Beauty is in the eye of the wine holder or insert your preferred reference hereThing is there s so much collage that the original idea advertised in the blurb essentially vanishes Another thing is in order to appreciate this book you gotta ike the historical bits and the pseudo history and the Shakespeare fan fiction and the bunch of iterary references get your kicks out of metatextuality and the rambly meditation style and the slow development and the essay Arc Welding into story and don t be sour the idea you ve been sold doesn t feature a ot in the book Tall order which basically reduces the audience at every AND filter gateSo the real complete title of this work is This Is a Book Or What You Will. W Sylvia is starting a new novel a fantasy for adult readers set in Thalia the Florence resembling imaginary city that was the setting for a successful YA trilogy she published decades before Of course he's got a part in it But he also has a notion He thinks he knows how he and Sylvia can step off the wheel of mortality altogether All he has to do is convince her. Torical artists and scholars Both stories had promise but in my opinion mixed about as well as oil and water There was a ack of continuity that was distracting every time the story flipped from the real world to the fictional world Sylvia who is the author of the fictional world and whose mind is the dwelling place of the nameless narrator has a very interesting back story But I felt that her story and the book she was writing never did fully cohere despite that being the point of the novel I d want the stars to be destinations not destiny This book is one of the most meta experimental novels I ve read in recent memory The ideas were wonderful and the narrative went in enough different directions to make heads spin But the amount of fourth wall breaking and self commentary came across as self indulgent instead of endearing The book was brief at Renovate: Changing Who You Are by Loving Where You Are little than 300 pages but it felt exhaustinglyabyrinthine The writing was exuisite and the ideas uniue but I had a hard time making myself pick this Gaffer little book up I also found myself disappointed in the ending While the entire book was building toward a particular outcome that final scene was so brief as to feel woefully abridged and ultimately unsatisfying However the uality of the writing and the social commentary woven into the narrative about the fantasy genre and religion and the world as a whole saved the book for me I enjoyed having a chance to peer so deeply into the mind of both the author of this book and the author in the book There s no difference between fairy tales and war stories Pah All stories start both ways There s no difference between once upon a time and believe me because I was there and still bear the scars There are scars in everyone s stories I m sure Or What You Will shall become a new favorite for many and I deeply regret that I m not part of that number However Iook forward to trying of Walton s work as she is a brilliant wordsmith whose prose I can t wait to sample again Even though I didn t ove this particular story I deeply respect what Walton both attempted and was able to do in the writing of it Hopefully I l find a book or multiple books in her catalogue that will ring as true to me as Sylvia s books did for her fictitious fanbase in this novel All uotes above were taken from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change upon publication You can find this review and at Novel Notions A beautifully written wonderfully strange imagining of the Lone Star Justice: The First Century of the Texas Rangers links between author character and those between the our world and fictional worlds Plus aittle Shakespeare thrown in there for good measure What s not to ove Of course all books are easier to read that to describe This is true even when you re a character in them when that s been your whole ife when you began as the author s imaginary friend and wound up as narrator protagonist and bit part player in her over thirty novels But I don t know why we re talking about you This is a book about meThat s the narrator s blurb for Or What You Will and it s about a good a description of it as I can getThe first chapter of this book is extremely fun to read aloud which is a genuine plus for me This book is very meta indeed its filename was Meta BLOG Instagram Twitter Thank you NetGalley and Tor Books for this ARC All thoughts and opinions are mine You see I know herI ve been in all her booksBut I ve been in her head much much onger than that When you
Read The Work Of Athe work of a author you re about to step into a new and different world You have no idea what you re in store for not matter how interesting the synopsis of the story may seem I find myself feeling both excited and wary but with as open a mind as I can keep in all situations which is rather open I m always pleasantly surprised to realizeBefore I read Or What You Will I did not know what metafiction was It could be that throughout my years as a reader I came across a story that had meta components but I wasn t aware of it or didn t ook into it further enough to find out I ve always Island of the Lost Horses (Dora and Friends) loved that about books however you re going toearn something new in each one about the book or about yourself even if it s the fact that you ve discovered an author whose imagination you now enjoy And regardless of any other factors you re going to appreciate the book for that alone I certainly doI now know that I m not a fan of metafiction It s not my cup of tea and I accept that Despite this this book is worth the read Not only is the writing itself fantastic but the way that you are drawn into the story happens seamlessly Yes you re given a ot of information that is mingled in with the narrative most of it historical details of Florence which tie in with the rest of the book and it can be uite a ot to take in But as history stands they re fascinating facts that will just make your God Said, Ha!: A Memoir life richer for knowing especially if you re a fan of art and European culture it s intriguing and it does help in becoming further immersedIt took me some time to go deep into the novel but once I did I did not want to come back up until I d finished it Or What You Will won t be for everyone but there s a special kind of magic that makes it irresistible to read After all as a reader who doesn t want to explore a story about a fictional character coming toife update Releases this week Go get
"ItBig Thank You To Netgalley "thank you to Netgalley MacmillianTor for the eARC in exchange for an honest reviewThis is a story that readers will either ove desperately or hate and never finish and I imagine Walton knows this and thus the references to Sylvia s one star reviews No matter readers who ove Shakespeare On the Right Side of a Dream love art and good food andove ideas will ove this book It s hard not to see this book as a tribute a ove etter to Walton s readers over the years It s all there the dragon from the King s Peace books Ficino and Pico from Thessaly all of Florence from Lent wrapped up in one big meta discussion on artistic creation and subcreationI m still so gobsmacked by this book that it s hard to review it rationally and writing a synopsis is pointless because the story took me places I never expected to go But they are wondrous places and I so want them to be real Illyria Brunelleschi s walk into canvas Teatro del Sale Miranda s house all were marvels And the ending well who else could such a changeable spirit be but the one who carries out his mistress s imaginings and. Idea a character in the mind of Sylvia Harrison 73 award winning author of thirty novels over forty years He has played a part in most of those novels and in the recesses of her mind Sylvia has conversed with him for years But Sylvia won't ive forever any than any human does And he's trapped inside her cave of bone her hollow of skull When she dies so will heNo.
characters Or What You WillThis is not a book for beginners I hate saying that because it s super patronizing Malazan devotees I m ooking at you but I kinda have to on this one Not because it expects you to remember a zillion details and characters there s about half a dozen of significance but because this is a book that assumes you are a serious serious reader If you haven t read a ton of books especially fantasy books there s a Michelin Green Guide Normandy lot that you re going to miss If you aren t interested in the craft of writing then this book is probably going to be boring If you re not ateast vaguely familiar with The Tempest and Twelfth Night you re going to not understand a ton of things Walton doesn t feel the need to explain to the reader who Orsini and Miranda are But if you ove hearing authors talk about their experiences and influences if you ove reading rough cuts and early drafts and if books have been your constant companion for your entire ife then there s a good chance you l ove this bookThere are two principal characters One is Sylvia an aging fantasy writer acclaimed within the SFF fandom community but not particularly known outside of it I m thinking ike Robin Hobb What Every American Should Know About the Rest of the World level The kind of writer at the point in herife she s at might well get named a Damon Knight Grand Master I m not trying to gatekeep here I m really not but knowing what the Damon Knight Grand Master award is may well be a good barometer for how much you l appreciate this book The other principal character who serves as the narrator ives in Sylvia s head He has no name but he s been Sylvia s muse and inspiration for her entire The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War life Nearly every book she s written he s one of the characters Not in a Hoid from the Cosmere sense but he s always been inside one of the characters Hero villain side character important character who only shows up briefly butooms Experiencing the Resurrection: The Everyday Encounter That Changes Your Life large even a dragon he s been them allAs the book begins Sylvia is trying to write a book without him I m worried you re getting stale but generally failing because he keeps worming his way in She s also dying of cancer which has the narrator frightened both because heoves her and because without her he l die tooThe book revolves around Sylvia revisiting Ilyria one of her earlier worlds a world where immortality is possible thanks to the heroic efforts of one of the earlier embodiments of the narrator He s trying to convince her to go to Ilyria before she dies so they can keep iving and he can exist outside of her What happens is a very meta story about stories where we earn about Sylvia s ife at the same time she s trying to write this new book her final book and the narrator s attempts to steer things so that the two come together after convincing her that it s possible at all that Ilyria is real in a way she can go toThe parts about Sylvia s ife feel very autobiographical I don t know if it is or not this is my first Jo Walton book and I don t know anything about her personal ife but I have no doubt that even if the details have been changed she poured a great deal of herself into this bookThis was an ARC so it s not going to be generally available for a few months I m going to be waiting impatiently for it to come out because I m pretty certain I m going to be chewing on this for the entire time I want someone
"To Talk About It With "talk about it with wasn t a conventional read for me but I greatly enjoyed it Actual rating 35 stars I received a copy of this book from the publisher Tor and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review I have been a word on the tongue I have been a word on the page And I hope I will be again Or What You Will blew me away from the very first page The ast time I got this excited over the first paragraphs of a book was when I read The Ten Thousand Doors of January which ended up being my favorite book of 2019 My pulse
ACTUALLY SPED UP AS I READ AND I HADsped up as I read and I had stop and go back and reread those first few paragraphs because they were just so gorgeous I had read passages to my husband and frantically text my fellow Novel Notions besties about how excited I was before I even finished that first chapter And I continued to deeply appreciate the writing all the way through and highlighted and annotated an incredible number of passages But after such a wonderful beginning things went from beautiful iterary fiction to an unexpected accounting of the art scene of Renaissance Florence I mean I have no problem at all with the topic but that shift came out of nowhere I would say it was jarring if the air of the novel wasn t so meandering And then there were a ton of Shakespearean characters added into the mix which was surprising But the book never really came back to what I Mirage: Napoleon's Scientists and the Unveiling of Egypt loved so much in those first few pages and I d beying if I didn t admit I was incredibly disappointed by that decision on Walton s part What am I What am I Figment fakement fragment furious fancy free form This is a book that doesn t hold your hand Walton expects readers to be familiar with certain histories and iterary works and if they flounder that s not really her problem is it I would strongly advice anyone interested in reading this book who has no Shakespearean exposure to at east find summaries of Twelfth Night and The Tempest and read those before diving into Or What You Will There are micro seuels to both plays in the pages of this book and those will make far sense if you have an idea of what said plays are about and who their characters are Said seuels also tie the two plays together in interesting ways I Frommer's Irreverent Guide to Walt Disney World love the idea of these tales continuing on after the curtain closes and Iove even the idea of those stories continuing on in a world parallel to ours where magic is real and the Renaissance never ended But these well worn characters underwent ittle new development in my opinion regardless of their near eternal ife in this magical world They continued on without really moving forward though I feel that might have been the point Imagine that power to make worlds I can make and shape and take no worlds I slide myself into the worlds I am given and find myself frame myself tame myself into the space there where I can see to be me The concept of telling a story from a fictional character s perspective while they re inside their author s head and aware of that fact is an interesting one As is this eternal magical Renaissance in a Florence populated with Shakespearean casts and real his. From the Hugo Nebula and World Fantasy Award winning author of Among Others an utterly original novel about how stories are brought forthHe has been too many things to count He has been a dragon with a boy on his back He has been a scholar a warrior a over and a thief He has been dream and dreamer He has been a god But “he” is in fact nothing than a spark of.