Underground Reading: The Long Lavender Look by John D. MacDonald

Running out of Time

I came shamefully late to fantasy literature. I've only really been reading it for little over ten years - and I'm a slow reader. There are (much to the horror of this site's more well-read figureheads) enormous gaps in my fantasy reading, one of which is Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. 

So, thank Heavens for pieces such as this one: The Believer magazine writes about Jordan, and how his death threatened to end the series of novels before the story was done. If you only have the vaguest knowledge of the Wheel of Time, it makes for enlightening reading. If you know the whole sorry saga of the books' rise and near fall, it's still definitely worth your time. At the start, you think it's just going to be a puff piece, but once it has laid down its respectful groundwork, the article gets its hands good and dirty. The writer is not afraid to dig into Jordan's laissez faire approach to moving the plot forward, his weird little obsessions, and his wonky attitude towards women:

“I’ve seen a lot of comment, apparently from men, that my female characters are unrealistic,” he once wrote. “That’s because women are, for the most part, consummate actresses who allow men to see exactly what they intend men to see. Get behind the veil sometimes, boys, and your hair will turn white. I’ve been there, and mine went white and didn’t stop there; a great deal of it actually turned dark again, the shock to my system was so great. Believe me, I mild it down so as not to scare any males into mental breakdowns.” This is as indicative as any other passage Jordan penned regarding women: he seemed to regard a healthy mix of fear and condescension as a decent proxy for respect, and left it at that.

Even if you never intend to read the books (as, frankly, I don't), there's some good reading to be had here.