This week I’m reading The Drawing of the Dark, by Tim Powers.
This edition is a reissue; the book was originally published in 1979. How does this historical fantasy novel (it’s set in a version of 16th century Europe) hold up nearly 40 years later? So far, quite well.
The ship, he observed as he swung over the high stern, was notably dilapidated. God, dual steering oars and a square, brailed sail, he noted, shaking his head doubtfully. This one is old enough for Cleopatra to have made an insulting remark about it.
The book itself isn’t quite old enough for Cleopatra to have made a remark about it, insulting or otherwise, but it is old enough that I might have seen it playing in my neighborhood when I was a kid. I’m about a third of the way through it and, having previously begun to suspect the true identity of the main instigator of the plot, am starting to detect some additional Arthurian undertones. Perhaps that’s why, aside from a smattering of old-school dialog attributions―some of which, I might add, actually work―the book doesn’t really show its age. Camelot and its denizens never gets old. We’ll see if the undertones eventually become overtones, a la (spoiler alert?) The Fionavar Tapestry.
Meanwhile, the previous round of editing on Father’s Books is complete, the new version is printed out, and I’m back to slashing at it with my favorite black-inked pen. At this point I expect to mostly be cutting things out, although there are one or two things I need to add at critical junctures, now that I have a better idea of how it’s really going to end.
When he came out of the cellar, Beth was sitting at the foot of the stairs to the second floor, smoking a cigarette and staring at the ceiling. She didn’t look at him as he closed and latched the basement door.
“Where’d you get that?” Richard said.
“I found a pack in the kitchen,” she said. She inhaled, blew smoke through her nostrils.
“You quit, remember?”
She looked up at him. Inhaled. Blew.
“You weren’t going to let a weed control you, remember?”
“The weed’s not controlling me,” she said. “I’m controlling the weed.”
“How do you figure?”
How indeed? But from there the conversation veers off into spoiler territory, so for now, we will just have to wonder how Beth extricates herself from Richard’s cunning interrogation …