Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Drizzt and the Forgotten Novel

I told a friend that I was writing a kind of fantasy novel. He said, "Have you read anything by Salvatore?"

"No, I don't think so."

"Really?! Not anything by him?!"

"No," I repeated. How obnoxious! As if one author should know everyone else's favorite authors.

"I can't believe it!" he said. "You have to know about Drizzt du Orden. He spawned, like, everything." He went on from there, touching on just about every aspect of fantasy, from books to RPGs to movies and comics, and... Anyway, I got the impression that there wouldn't be any fantasy at all without this Drizzt character. Tolkien, Le Guin, M.Z. Bradley, et al — none of these even entered the picture.

"Maybe I've heard of Drizzt. Sounds familiar. But no, I don't think I've read Salvatore. Sorry."

"Huh. Interesting." Obviously he had lost hope that I would ever become a worthy successor of his main man Salvatore.

So I searched the web. Turns out my local neighborhood Powell's bookstore has about 10,000 copies of Salvatore's books (slight exaggeration). So I stop by Powell's and pick up the novel that started it all: The Crystal Shard. I thumb through the ragged copy before I buy it. By the end of the first page, I begin to feel myself entering familiar territory. By the middle of the first chapter, I know that I have already read this book, maybe twice.

This happens to me all the time. It seems I lack the ability to remember names of characters, authors, actors, or anyone else. What's more, I have read so many paperbacks, especially during a frenzied period in the 1980s, that I'll probably never remember some of them even if I were to read them all over again.

I suppose I could inform my friend that I've read about Drizzt after all, but I probably won't. I prefer to be underestimated.

And this leads directly to my next post, though on a slightly different subject. Stay tuned...


Jennifer Snow said...

At least you're not as bad as my dad. He could literally read a book ALL THE WAY TO THE END, then suddenly realize, only AFTER he'd finished it, that he'd read it before.

I don't have this problem, actually, I can remember, in detail, the plots of books I only read ONCE in GRADE SCHOOL. When I saw a trailer for the movie Bridge to Terebithia I went on a five-minute rant about how royally they screwed up the underlying meaning of the book. I read it once, when I was nine.

As far as Salvatore goes, don't try to emulate him. His books are basically long tedious descriptions of combat interspersed with scenes of "character interaction" that belong in a black-and-white no-sound melodrama. I confess that I've read several of his books, but I tend to flip past the combat descriptions.

Toiler said...

That's funny about your dad. Too bad it isn't the beginning that he remembers, because then he could read books over and over and never get tired of them.

Sometimes when I try to re-read novels that I liked a long time ago, I wonder what I was ever thinking. In the case of The Crystal Shard, I seem to remember having taken it along on some trip and it was the only book I had to read, and then I never read any more Forgotten Realms after that. That's what my lousy memory tells me, anyway.

By the way, about that friend of mine who knew so much about Drizzt; he came to fantasy by playing games, so he doesn't know much outside of The Realms. Too bad for him.