Did a search on John Crowley and didn't get any hits - at least for thread titles (saw some stuff on a Mieville thread, though, and I do like Mieville).
Anyway, tell me about him - I've read Little, Big on the recommendation of my future brother-in-law and felt like I was slogging through for the most part - anything else of his worth trying?
― MsLaura, Wednesday, 23 January 2008 22:20 (thirteen years ago) link
I did an article at Bookslut about his shorter works, which might be more your speed (they're great) - see http://www.bookslut.com/small_but_perfectly_formed/2005_09_006545.php
― James Morrison, Thursday, 24 January 2008 00:40 (thirteen years ago) link
Thanks for the ideas, Mr. James - I actually have an old copy of Otherwise floating 'round here, somewhere. Any comments on his Aegypt trilogy / series? (I have a couple of those, too.)
I feel bad about not loving Little, Big and will likely give it another shot someday - I read it in bursts and snatches throughout the holiday season and was never able to get into the rhythm of his sentences - bit I did love his use of language.
― MsLaura, Thursday, 24 January 2008 03:29 (thirteen years ago) link
Sorry, never read the Aegypt books--I think I was waiting for the series to be fully published before starting on it, and then forgot all about it.
― James Morrison, Thursday, 24 January 2008 21:45 (thirteen years ago) link
Love John Crowley, but if you don't like Little, Big on another try, it might be that the Aegypt books aren't for you - they move more slowly, have really left fantasy behind. They're quite hard to describe, really; a sort of hermetic treatise & double narrative that's always slipping into other meanings - like it's becoming an allegory or emblem book or treatise on astrology or whatever instead stably being a realistic novel. But it's plainer than that on the surface. I've only read a couple, mind, so I should finish up before opining more.
Try James Morrison's recommendations (nice article, btw). Great Work of Time is especially awesome - like he says, it's hard to know how he fits so much into 100 pages. I'd add Engine Summer to the list (in fact I'd switch it for Beasts) - once you're over the language bump, it's probably his most engrossing novel, maybe the neatest structure too.
Anyone read Lord Byron's Daughter? Sitting by my sofa at the moment, keep putting off picking it up. I do love him, think he's as interesting as almost anyone in American fiction, but I'm not always in the mood. Should finish Aegypt first anyway.
― woofwoofwoof, Thursday, 24 January 2008 23:11 (thirteen years ago) link
Am I correct in thinking that Crowley should be read when one has time to devote to him - that his works don't hold-up well to being read in snatches whilst on the run? (I'm starting to feel guilty that I didn't approach Little, Big in the right mind- and time-set.)
― MsLaura, Friday, 25 January 2008 05:04 (thirteen years ago) link
I think that's probably spot-on: and why the novella-length ones are good, in that you can polish one off in one sitting if you can find a few spare hours one night/weekend.
― James Morrison, Sunday, 27 January 2008 03:45 (thirteen years ago) link
Really liked "Little, Big", halfway through the first book of "Aegypt". Read something where he says he's trying for the same effects in prose as the "Little Nemo" strips do in imagery, and it seems to me that he can really deliver on that, if you're able to work with him.
― Soukesian, Saturday, 15 November 2008 00:43 (twelve years ago) link
Saw Little, Big on the library shelf today, was intrigued and took it out, but I'll think I have to follow the recommendation and start with one of the shorter ones.
Apparently it is the guy's birthday today.
― O-mar Gaya (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 2 December 2009 04:39 (eleven years ago) link
Aegypt was the worst waste of reading experience I can ever remember, TBH
― as they say in Finnish: "lihaperäpukamat (remy bean), Wednesday, 2 December 2009 16:06 (eleven years ago) link
Little, Big seems to be both Harold Bloom and Ursula K. Le Guin's favorite book. Don't know if that is good or bad.
― O-mar Gaya (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 2 December 2009 16:45 (eleven years ago) link
Happy Birthday, John!
Finished Aegypt, found it thoroughly absorbing, though the final volume felt a little rushed. WoofX3's "sort of hermetic treatise & double narrative that's always slipping into other meanings" upthread is as good a description as I've seen. Really not for everyone, though!
― Soukesian, Wednesday, 2 December 2009 17:15 (eleven years ago) link
just ordered 'little, big.' anyone else have any reaction to it?
― (The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Saturday, 14 July 2012 05:34 (nine years ago) link
Loved Great Work of Time, couldn't get into Engine Summer, so wondered if the longer works would be for me - but I just read Little, Big and found it pretty unputdownable and utterly wonderful. Is Aegypt anywhere near as good?
― toby, Thursday, 10 January 2013 16:40 (eight years ago) link
Aegypt (the first volume) is my favorite thing I've read by him and probably in my all time top 10 novels. (The other Crowleys I've read being Little, Big and Engine Summer).
I read it when it was called Aegypt, before that became the umbrella title for its series. Not sure if he revised it much for the title change or not.
I've put off continuing on to Love and Sleep for a long time b/c of fear of being let down. I know that's strange.
― ~farben~ (Jon Lewis), Thursday, 10 January 2013 18:07 (eight years ago) link
Digging his column in Harper's, especially the most recent.
― Up the Junction Boulevard (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 14 February 2015 19:37 (six years ago) link
Dammit don't make me go back to harpers!
― a drug by the name of WORLD WITHOUT END (Jon Lewis), Saturday, 14 February 2015 20:13 (six years ago) link
What, you stopped doing the cryptic?
― Up the Junction Boulevard (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 14 February 2015 20:17 (six years ago) link
Richard Maltby, Jr.weeps.
― Up the Junction Boulevard (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 14 February 2015 20:18 (six years ago) link
I became really disenchanted with their steez w/r/t politics sometime in the first half of the 2000s. TBH I became really disenchanted with a lot of ppl's steez w/r/t politics sometime in the first half of the 2000s. A lot of writers/talkers seemed to lose their minds and drift too hard right or left, other things like harpers stayed basically the same as they'd been before but started to seem really stupid to me in light of (self-lop) ~the changes~
― a drug by the name of WORLD WITHOUT END (Jon Lewis), Saturday, 14 February 2015 22:00 (six years ago) link
i remember a time when i read harpers...even subscribed!
― scott seward, Saturday, 14 February 2015 22:42 (six years ago) link
i blame the internet. can't even remember the last time i read a new yorker. the atlantic! subscribed to all of them. i think i'm with jon. at some point everything started to bug me.
― scott seward, Saturday, 14 February 2015 22:43 (six years ago) link
I haven't made time for mags in recent months, just books, but really enjoyed the New Yorker's science writing, war correspondance, Emily Nussbaum's TV reviews, even Anthony Lane, who used to be such a windy twit. *Even* a lot of the fiction, in the past couple years (finally): the Science Fiction Issue, lots of Indian and African writers, also Karen Russell and several others I've talked about on the Rolling Science Fiction Fantasy Speculative etc threads, especially the old one. James Woods sometimes makes his points very convincingly, good use of quotes etc in the first few grafs, then has go on for several more pages, but he's led me to some writers I might well have missed, like Elena Ferrante (yay).
― dow, Sunday, 15 February 2015 03:26 (six years ago) link
Oh and agree w James about starting with Crowley's novellas.
― dow, Sunday, 15 February 2015 03:29 (six years ago) link
So far still have only read the first two stories in Novelties & Souvenirs, but looking forward to catching up to the other James and reading more, such as "Snow" and "Great Work of Time."
― Up the Junction Boulevard (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 15 February 2015 03:34 (six years ago) link
I just searched for this thread because i just finished The Solitudes and am starting on Little, Big, weird to find it's just been revived separately.
Loved The Solitudes, looking forward to working through more of his writing.
― Tim F, Sunday, 15 February 2015 11:00 (six years ago) link
I got into Engine Summer later in 2013 and absolutely loved it. Definitely took some perseverance for the first third or so, but really paid off in the end.
All three Crowleys I've read have been so good that I don't know why I haven't read more - perhaps I will give The Solitudes a go next.
― toby, Sunday, 15 February 2015 12:22 (six years ago) link
OK so Beasts is awesome too. (Also the Aegypt quartet was great in the end although dragged a bit in the middle.)
― toby, Tuesday, 27 September 2016 21:39 (four years ago) link
Yay! I _love_ Beasts.
― I hear from this arsehole again, he's going in the river (James Morrison), Wednesday, 28 September 2016 00:43 (four years ago) link
Little, Big, omfg what a trip. Really captures something of a genuine childhood sense of wonder like nothing else i''ve read as an adult. Dazzling, but plenty of darkness too. And I spotted enough hidden jokes and tricks to suspect many more passed me by.
― brekekekexit collapse collapse (ledge), Friday, 24 February 2017 15:07 (four years ago) link
read Aegypt tout de suite!!!
― his eye is on despair-o (Jon not Jon), Friday, 24 February 2017 16:34 (four years ago) link
my friend told me Crowley has been working on a big novel about intelligent crows for years, btw
― his eye is on despair-o (Jon not Jon), Friday, 24 February 2017 16:35 (four years ago) link
Ok, what? Why is crowley writing a book just for me?
― I hear from this arsehole again, he's going in the river (James Morrison), Saturday, 25 February 2017 00:17 (four years ago) link
That's funny because i thought it was just for me!!!
― Cognition (Remix) (Jon not Jon), Saturday, 25 February 2017 00:29 (four years ago) link
Have started on Aegypt. Just reached a moment, very early on, when things have just twisted slightly, the world of the book has become, perhaps, not quite as close to our world as I thought it was, and there's a delightful giddiness, a confusion that I'm not sure is mine (possibly) or the author's (probably not) or intrinsic to the world itself.
Also a good tip, Jon, to read this right after Little, Big. Have spotted a whole paragraph lifted from it and attributed to an entirely different, fictional, book & author. A more obvious example of the kind of games he's playing.
― brekekekexit collapse collapse (ledge), Thursday, 2 March 2017 21:05 (four years ago) link
The great thing is it's been so long since I've read it that rather than proceed to love and sleep I'm gonna need to reread aegypt first. Yay!
― Cognition (Remix) (Jon not Jon), Thursday, 2 March 2017 21:08 (four years ago) link
Crowley makes some remarks about two of his books in the last few minutes of this.
― alimosina, Monday, 6 March 2017 19:15 (four years ago) link
Syncing problem on that, but otherwise very interesting, thanks.
― Got Your Money Changes Everything (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 12 March 2017 23:17 (four years ago) link
Finished book 1 of Aegypt. I got it, I thought - all the stuff about there being another history of the world, magic was once real etc, was flim-flam, smokescreen for the real inside-out message - it's not about the world but about the world within, the time when magic was real wasn't a period in history, but childhood. But at the same time I didn't get it, it seemed like reverse alchemy: turning the gold of the promised fantasy into the lead of the real, the normal, the mundane. Then I figured it out: fantasy is fake, fool's gold; the message in the book is the real deal and all the more alluring for it. It made me remember when I was a kid and I really did live in a world where ghosts and ufos and all manner of things were real.
I've actually finished book 2 as well, I don't have as clear an idea of it but the opening section with Pierce's childhood is astonishing.
― brekekekexit collapse collapse (ledge), Saturday, 18 March 2017 18:48 (four years ago) link
argh i need to reread so bad.
Actually, after reading your post, I realized that my original encounter went like this:
buy Love & Sleep at random at some store when it had just come out in hardback, having read Little, Big a few years prior
read first 50 to 75 pages of Love & Sleep and have my mind completely fucking lit up by it
realize it's book 2 of a series, go get Aegypt at used store right away
read Aegypt and have my mind completely fucking lit up by it
go into my weird 'this book is gonna be so good I have to wait til the perfect time to start it' mode wrt Love & Sleep
[20 years pass in which I think about Aegypt constantly but do not restart Love & Sleep]
― chip n dale recuse rangers (Jon not Jon), Friday, 24 March 2017 14:52 (four years ago) link
the passage about The Storm in Engine Summer is one of the most beautiful attempts to mythologize our current age that I've ever read
― Milton Parker, Thursday, 21 December 2017 22:22 (three years ago) link
His novel about intelligent crows is finally out. Really looking forward to getting it.
― I would never REALLY sign your death warrant! You're my-- my DOG! (Jon not Jon), Friday, 22 December 2017 17:51 (three years ago) link
Exciting. Wish I'd written my sketchy half-baked thoughts about the Aegpyt series while they were fresh. That's right, half baked and fresh. iirc 3 was a bit of a struggle at times, 4 took a left turn away from some of the earlier ideas in favour of a tonal realism and a redemption for Pierce which, to me, felt quite satisfying. Perhaps unlikely i'll read them again but there is more than enough I only half glimpsed or half understood to justify it. Aegpyt is a big place, Mr Shadrach, a man could lose himself in Aegypt. Anyway I will catch up with all his other works at some point.
― Here comes the phantom menace (ledge), Saturday, 23 December 2017 13:06 (three years ago) link
Have I really never posted in this? John Crowley is the best writer in SF.
― Guayaquil (eephus!), Saturday, 23 December 2017 16:03 (three years ago) link
John Crowley is the best writer in SF
This (obviously) sounds provocative, but I can't think of anyone better.
Yes! I just reread Engine Summer as a holiday treat. I wondered if having read it 5 years ago I remembered too much to enjoy it as much this time around, but if anything I liked it even more knowing some of what was coming.
3 was a bit of a struggle at times, 4 took a left turn away from some of the earlier ideas in favour of a tonal realism and a redemption for Pierce which, to me, felt quite satisfying
That fits my memory; my notes for 3 say " I found this really dragged for quite a while, but then suddenly I ended up reading the last 2/3rds of the book in under 48 hours", while for 4 I wrote "A real pleasure, after the relative slog of the previous volumes - breezed through it in (essentially) a day while ill, just luxuriating in it - a big payoff in enjoyment from the investment in the previous volumes, if not any big revelation in terms of content."
― toby, Saturday, 30 December 2017 17:36 (three years ago) link
...the collapsed ruins of a rustic gazebo where once old men had gathered to play cards and checkers and talk about how bad the world had grown.
― Roberto Spiralli, Tuesday, 20 March 2018 18:04 (three years ago) link
― as the crows around me grows (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 20 March 2018 18:12 (three years ago) link
Should be ilx description, posted over the gates.I still agree with James B. about starting w novellas; that's still as far as I've gotten.Novelty: Four Stories, from the late 80s, is the one I read, though still want to check this-century Novelties & Souvenirs: Collected Short Fiction.
― dow, Tuesday, 20 March 2018 21:39 (three years ago) link
Ka is great.
― toby, Monday, 7 May 2018 20:05 (three years ago) link
Did you see the youtube interview I posted with him in the speculative fiction thread?
― Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 12 May 2018 15:42 (three years ago) link
Was that the geeks guide to the galaxy podcast? I'd bookmarked that from somewhere on ilx a while back and saved it for after reading the book - in fact I listened to it a couple of days ago. It was pretty interesting although a bit sad that it sounds like his books haven't been selling so well.
― toby, Sunday, 13 May 2018 14:22 (three years ago) link
That's the one.
― Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 13 May 2018 14:34 (three years ago) link
Thanks for posting it!
― toby, Sunday, 13 May 2018 16:30 (three years ago) link
Have read Beasts and The Deep. Loved Beasts, the conceit and the characters. Was not taken by the politics but that was kept largely in the background. By contrast The Deep is all politics, with a confusing bunch of similarly named characters vying for power - Old Redhand, Redhand, Young Redhand, Red Senlin, Sennred... the writing was gorgeous, I never felt like abandoning it but I just didn't give a shit. And it's marketed as SF but it's a feudal society set on a discworld?
Anyone read his non sf/f stuff, e.g. The Four Freedoms?
― neith moon (ledge), Tuesday, 29 September 2020 09:13 (ten months ago) link
I'm listening to the audiobook of Aegypt. Semi-hard to follow sometimes as it's read by the author and from what I understand there are passages written in different scripts, or indicating that they're quoting from a text or past era, which he doesn't really demarcate particularly well.
― Specific Ocean Blue (dog latin), Tuesday, 29 September 2020 09:52 (ten months ago) link
iirc even with the print/ebook I did occasionally get confused with what part of the narrative I was in, what fictional world; however the extracts from other texts are cleary demarcated, can see how that would be extra confusing in an audiobook.
― neith moon (ledge), Tuesday, 29 September 2020 10:05 (ten months ago) link
Crowley's accent is also somewhat off-putting to my Britisher ears and took me a while to adjust, although it makes sense that he should read his own book as the rhythm of his writing is known to be idiosyncratic. He was born in Maine but grew up in various places, but he pronounces the word 'car' with an Southern Irish-style long-'A' like "kaar".
― Specific Ocean Blue (dog latin), Tuesday, 29 September 2020 10:46 (ten months ago) link
Aegypt is all time top ten material for me
― and i can almost smell your PG Tips (Jon not Jon), Tuesday, 29 September 2020 12:41 (ten months ago) link
have you read the other three yet?
― neith moon (ledge), Tuesday, 29 September 2020 12:44 (ten months ago) link
Way back when, I didn’t know Love & Sleep was the second book of a series and bought it and started it. Got about fifty pages in before setting it aside and going to get aegypt. L&S as far in as I got was wonderful, but after finishing Aegypt and being so very blown away by it, I ended up saving L&S ‘for the right moment’ which is a silly thing I do sometimes with books, sometimes for many years. I’ve heard demonomania is not on the same level.
― and i can almost smell your PG Tips (Jon not Jon), Tuesday, 29 September 2020 12:51 (ten months ago) link
The start of Love & Sleep is an incredible piece of writing, a totally vivid creation of Pierce's childhood and stunningly evocative of childhood in general. As I said above the third was a bit of a struggle at times but the fourth is a very satisfying resolution.
― neith moon (ledge), Tuesday, 29 September 2020 13:05 (ten months ago) link
have you read the other three yet?― neith moon (ledge), Tuesday, September 29, 2020 1:44 PM (one hour ago) bookmarkflaglink
― neith moon (ledge), Tuesday, September 29, 2020 1:44 PM (one hour ago) bookmarkflaglink
I'm listening to the quadrilogy
― Specific Ocean Blue (dog latin), Tuesday, 29 September 2020 13:47 (ten months ago) link
Finished Ka. It was.. .quite good. Very inventive, wonderfully written, I just didn't find it as captivating as Little, Big or Aegypt. Not as labyrinthine as the former or as full of surprising wisdom as the latter.
― neith moon (ledge), Friday, 6 November 2020 08:46 (eight months ago) link
I still haven't started the novels, but did enjoy all the stories (incl. novella) that I've read in Novelties & Souvenirs:
Last year's And Go Like This brings us up to date on the shorter fiction, I think.
― dow, Friday, 6 November 2020 17:43 (eight months ago) link
From Summer 2020 What Are You Reading?Listening: Just started John Crowley's AEgypt. I struggle with Crowley. I've started both Little, Big and Engine Summer. The first was impenetrable, the second maybe a little easier on the brain. He has a strange rhythm to his writing which I find exhausting; and listening to AEgypt on Audible is no less of a task to follow. His paragraphs are rooms with many doors and no matter how much I rewind, I still have trouble following the free associative subject matter - one minute he's describing angels in a scrying glass, the next a clergy-boy, then a bus journey through a mythical America, an internal monologue about wish-fulfilment, a meeting with a shepherd - and that's just the first hour of this massive great book. I admire Crowley's imagination, but he certainly isn't spoon-feeding me here.
― doorstep jetski (dog latin), Tuesday, September 1, 2020 10:33 AM (two months ago) bookmarkflaglink
I've only read shorter things, in collections now out of print, but Novelties and Souvenirs is all the shorties (and some not so short), as of 2004, anyway. Amazon's Look Inside for print edition will even let you access some whole stories via titles in table of contents, and the Kindle version provides a bunch of previews. I don't remember ever having much problem with the ones I read, but could be we're in similar strata of spacey density.I recently came across "The Reason For The Visit" for the first time, in Interfaces, a 1980 anthology edited by Virginia Kidd and Ursula K. Le Guin: somehow he indicates right off that his guest is Virginia Woolf, although he never drops the name (eventually says, "I can't remember if I ever got to the lighthouse," which isn't a euphemism: he's just strung out on her letters, diaries, essays, and I've been there). Her English manners just get more lovely, and he feels her disappointment in him. Oh, this has happened before, in attempted demonstrations of social changes to time travelers Dr. Johnson and "to Max Beerbohm I'd insisted that I would be considered well-dressed---even something of a dandy---wearing an old, yellowing tropical suit and a vulgarian's Hawaiian shirt. But those visitors were figments, really. This visit was hers, and she asked the questions, and I was shy."
― dow, Tuesday, September 1, 2020 1:39 PM (two months ago) bookmarkflaglink
Oh yeah, there's also a 2019 round-up of stories, And Go Like This, and Reading Backwards: Essays and Reviews, 2008-2018, which might or might not provide illuminating gateways to his brain, hmmm.
― dow, Tuesday, September 1, 2020 5:46 PM (two months ago) bookmarkflaglink
(Title might be a warning.)
― dow, Tuesday, September 1, 2020
― dow, Friday, 6 November 2020 17:53 (eight months ago) link
novelties & souvenirs is really good, shows off his breadth of subject matter and diversity of approaches. "the great work of time" is the undisputed classic but i also really liked "why the nightingale sings at night", a creation myth more thoughtful than genesis, and "the war between the subjects and the objects", a short and sweet philosophical joke.
― neith moon (ledge), Friday, 6 November 2020 20:00 (eight months ago) link
Does that collec tion have The Girlhood of Shakespeare's Heroines, because I fucking love that novella.
― Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Tuesday, 9 March 2021 07:30 (four months ago) link
Sadly it does not. One for my 'to read' list.
― Non meat-eaters rejoice – our culture has completely lost its way (ledge), Tuesday, 9 March 2021 08:42 (four months ago) link
The Girlhood of Shakespeare's Heroines is all-time, I need to reread it. It's available in a collection he put out a couple of years ago:
― doctor johnson (askance johnson), Tuesday, 9 March 2021 15:56 (four months ago) link