bunn (bunn) wrote,

Notes on a couple of my Christmas books

The Other End of the Leash - Patricia McConnell
has made me think again about the ways that human beings behave and their relations with other species. I keep noticing ape-traits in people's behaviour now (particularly loudness and repetition), and comparing them to dog-traits.

The one area I'm not so sure of is that she draws a clear line between dog-language and human language. I'm not sure that is right. OK, dogs are dogs, but many of them are reared effectively as human beings, and they pick up all sorts of human body language. Mollydog smiles, for example (and I'm really glad I'd seen a picture of a greyhound smiling before she did it, because I am moderately good at dog body language, and normally I'd read that face as BACK OFF NOW FAST. At least, ape-me would, I'm not used to seeing quite so many large teeth... I was amused to see that McConnell interpreted it in that way, without giving the alternative human-body-language reading: it's not just me!

Worlds of Exile and Illusion - Ursula K Le Guin

Three of those thin, tightly written novels, that we used to think were good value in the Seventies before books became bloated monsters, bound together.

I just want to make a note that apart from the three Earthsea novels, which are my favorite books of all time, the legend of Semly is probably the best thing she's ever written. If there were no more books in the world, the legend of Semly would work quite happily as oral tradition, and there aren't many stories that can do that. The novel it belongs to is Rocannon's World, which opens with Semly and tells what happened afterwards, which I hadn't read for many years, so there was that sort of many layered feeling you get when you go back to something you'd almost forgotten. (Planet of Exile and City of Illusions are the other two, and not half bad, but Rocannon's World is special).

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