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Date: Tue, 28 May 2002 13:19:03 -0700 (PDT)
From: Jerry Friedman 
Subject: Re: (urth) revelatory message/converting dislike

--- Michael Straight  wrote:
> On Sun, 26 May 2002, Michael Andre-Driussi wrote:
> > My question to William and anyone else who cares to answer is this:
> Have
> > you ever received a revelatory message about a disliked Wolfe fiction
> that
> > made you "see the light" and revise your dislike of it?  More than
> once?
> > What were the fictions, what were the revelations, to what degree did
> it
> > change your dislike (how many levels did it rise up--did you actually
> come
> > to like it?), and how long ago was it?
> This has happened to me several times, not just with Wolfe.  I guess I'm
> just particularly dense.
> Urth of the New Sun - I disliked this because I had too many wrong
> interpretations about the New Sun Quartet and it went totally against
> them.

Same here, although there was only one of my interpretations of TBotNS
that it went against: I thought the ending of _Citadel_ was at least
hopeful and it turned out to be a disaster.  I didn't like that *one
bit*.  If I let it, _Urth_ would spoil my enjoyment of TBotNS.

The other thing I didn't like about _Urth_ is that, for something like
the first half, Wolfe seemed to be writing in his sleep.  I couldn't
believe this was the same person who had written his earlier books.
I may even have worried about his health.  Am I the only person who
thinks that book was astonishingly poorly written?

> After spending some time reading this list and going back through
> the whole series again I enjoyed all of them more, and the difference
> was
> probably greatest for this book.
> I think the most important insight I had was simply to let Wolfe take me
> where he wanted to go and show me what he wanted, and enjoy the
> ride.  Once I got over not having the plot do what I thought it should
> do
> and not getting to see the scenes I thought I wanted to see, I really
> enjoyed what was actually there.

Well, I guess I could try it...
> I didn't much like 5HC the first time I read it either, but after
> getting
> some hints from this group on how it all fit together, I went back and
> enjoyed it quite a bit.

Same here.  I just read 5HC a couple months ago, and people's comments
on the Gene Wolfes' project really helped me enjoy the title novella
a lot more.

On the other hand, I enjoyed the New Sun from the moment Severian had
a present(i)ment of his future (can't remember which was at the
beginning and which was at the end).

> (Still my least favorite Wolfe, but I did enjoy
> it the second time through).
> I can't say how much these differences are from insights from the list
> and
> how much is just from giving the works a second read, but I think both
> were involved.
> As for the Short Sun books, I loved them the first time and the second
> time.  Yes they have problems, and leave some of my desires unsatisfied
> (I'm not sure Wolfe's has a satisfying and coherent idea about what the
> "Secret" is, and I'm not wild about the ending), but what is there is
> wonderful.

As long as we're criticizing these books, I remember that in his
interview with Nick Gevers, Wolfe said that Severian shows up because
he was like the gun on the wall that has to be fired (but Wolfe forgot
to give credit to Chekhov).  Well for heaven's sake!  What about the
conversation with Sinew on Green?  Isn't that a large cannon loaded
and pointed at the bullseye?  Like Allen Lloyd, I got really tired
of Wolfe's leaving things out in this series, and leaving out that
scene was the worst.

Jerry Friedman

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