Thursday, May 5, 2022

Marion Deeds

Marion Deeds was born in Santa Barbara, California and moved to northern California when she was five. She loves the redwoods, the ocean, dogs and crows.

She’s fascinated by the unexplained, and curious about power: who has it, who gets it, what is the best way to wield it. These questions inform her stories.

Deeds's new novel is Comeuppance Served Cold.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Deeds's reply:
I recently finished Max Gladstone’s Last Exit. Like all of Gladstone’s work, Last Exit features dense, multi-layered prose. Please note, I’m using “dense” in the “rich, fudgy flourless chocolate cake” sense of the term, and I’m a chocolate lover. This may be Gladstone’s masterpiece. While the closest I’ve ever come to an Ivy League college is attending an event somewhere on the Stanford campus, I felt like I experienced the parts of Yale our outsider main characters experienced in their college years. I saw the increasingly horrifying alternate worlds they used their magic, which they call “spin,” to visit, and I shared their fear of the entity following them, the one that calls itself the Cowboy.

Gladstone has mentioned Stephen King’s It as an influence or at least a kind of marker for Last Exit: I felt lots of resonance with an earlier work of King’s; The Gunslinger, the first book (actually a collection of novellas) of The Dark Tower series. In that first book, Roland is less a character and more of a force. Last Exit exists in direct dialogue with that force, as well as the forces of fear, hopelessness and powerlessness. This makes it sound like the book isn’t action packed—trust me, it is. And, he pulls off a convincing optimistic ending.

Nghi Vo’s Siren Queen comes out in May, but I finished an ARC of it. Vo deeply mines folklore from various traditions, the history of the studio system in Hollywood in the early years of film, and her own rich imagination to create the world our main character, who calls herself Luli Wei, inhabits. The magic in Vo’s world is deeply, organically rooted in history, and it is often hungry. It is also beautiful and wonderful. From the family of enigmatic women who seem to always work the ticket booth at the movie palaces, to the strange and dangerous campfires on the studio back lots on Friday nights, to those who become stars, magic is everywhere, and Luli is touched by it. Luli wants to be in movies on her own terms. “No maids, no funny talking, no fainting flowers,” she tells her boss, listing the stereotypical roles for Asian women at the time. Will she succeed? What will she sacrifice to prevail? It was a breath-taking read.

I’ve been a fan of all of Genevieve Cogman’s Invisible Library series, and I’ve started The Untold Story, which may wrap up the over-arching storylines of these books. Librarian Irene is closing in on a couple of mysteries, one of which is deeply personal. I’m only about halfway in and I have to say this got dark pretty fast. I’m not sure what to expect next.
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--Marshal Zeringue