The second from Genevieve Cogman, whose The Invisible Library I got a right kick out of early last year when I was in—once again—Düsseldorf with Isabelle. I established back then I’ll read the shit out of whatever she writes, and yet, and yet. The Masked City is more of the same. Loved it, read it like I was ploughing fields, and yet about four-fifths of the way through I thought, “What am I reading here?” I decided on that ambivalent category Young Adult.
Perhaps it’s my linguistic snobbery (when I’m not stringing fucks together with cunts—or when I am. Either or.) that much of what I’ve read in the last eighteen months, however captivating the story, the writing is lacking. Sometimes it’s this adjectival snare I notice, “Oh, you used ‘overgrown’ two paragraphs ago” which connotes to me a simplicity in language, especially when I notice habits. Well, what do you want, Frances? Fucking Chaucer? I don’t know, Other Frances, maybe a thesaurus? Maybe caring for the words and how they are threaded together over pages equally with the story. And then I feel like a … umm haughty snob. (You are, Frances.)
That Young Adult thing. Look, Jo Walton’s Among Others is probably in that category, and I would argue in my truculent way Iain Banks’ The Wasp Factory also is, and both are absolute masterpieces of English language. The difference is when Young Adult is code for adult prudery over what kids get up to (sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll), for stopping at the belt, for making it to first base in sense but not even playing the game in spirit. As much as I love Cogman and the world of her Library, I want her to let the characters go. Clearly they want to bone like Oglaf.
That was mainly elaborating on what bothered me somewhat in The Invisible Library and a couple of paragraphs on that shouldn’t be construed as “Aw wa’ fukkin bollocks, eh?” Will definitely read the next from Cogman, very much enjoyed downing it over breakfast with grapefruit juice and rolled oats. (I gotta say, my breakfast. Work of art.) Needs more boning.