Reading: Nicola Griffith — Stay

Bought on Saturday; read on Sunday. Fiction is such a different thing for me to read. Caroline Walker Bynum’s Fragmentation and Redemption (as with all her works) takes me weeks to months to read, and most other non-fiction is a steady plod over weeks, which I usually intersperse with skiffy and fantasy (yeah, turns out fantasy, which I was so leery of I’m now reading kinda regularly). Which I haven’t been doing lately, so instead I sit on laptop late at night and don’t sleep so well.

Off to the bookshop! So I decided to read some earlier stuff of Nicola Griffith, she of the awesome Hild. Stay is what would happen if Hild was born in the late-20th century, where working with fists and violence is not such a high-class job. And it’s crime fiction. I haven’t read crime fiction for years. The last was probably James Ellroy on a plane somewhere, though OK, Neal Stephenson’s and William Gibson’s recent work (besides the latter’s The Peripheral) slipped out of sci-fi/fantasy into that nebulous world of ‘thriller’, which shares much with crime fiction, and OK too, most stuff I read technically revolves somewhere in the plot around a crime committed, at least from the perspective of the protagonists. Anyway, actual crime fiction, not for years.

Was kinda weird. Crime fiction. Almost hard-boiled, thing, whatshisname, the famous one, Chandler, a bit like Chandler, also a bit like Ellroy, in the damage of the main character, the one who fixes things. If the background was changed, like a cyclorama, pulled up into the grid and a new one labelled ‘sci-fi’ or ‘fantasy’ was dropped in, the former with space opera, latter with dragons, Stay, like most fiction, would still work. Yesterday I was talking with a friend, who differentiated the genres by naming what isn’t, “high literature.” So you scene change and high literature becomes genre.

I kept wondering when the main evil guy would resurface. Because I watch far, far too many Hollywood action films, and Main Evil Guy always, always returns in the last scene to fist it out with Main Good Guy. After making monologuing at each other. He didn’t. He was stepped out not even half-way through. Aud still got to bring it and finish it on a couple of others. Actually she’d make a good addition to team Fast and Furious. The Rock and Vin would love her, in that platonic way they do with co-brawlers, though she wouldn’t stick around.

What else? It’s not Hild, but there’s much of what will become her world and herself here. It’s the second book in a series, the first I haven’t read, but I liked that missing knowledge, things unsaid and unexplained. The landscape, and Aud working, that I could read for a whole novel, especially with her dead girlfriend holding conversation while Aud beats herself up in the forest at night.