Book Review

The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin

i eavesdrop on some people planning a big party night then go home and read nerdy fiction; bored

It is August 9th and time is flowing sprinting running the year is moving and nothing is changing nothing is right

It’s not that everything is wrong but it’s that nothing is right, I think that sums things up perfectly

Reading this trashy genre fiction is not good for my self-esteem. I mean, what is good for my self-esteem?

I’ve finally got through to the finalised text of the pleasure of regret so now I’m back to the state I am always in between manuscript acceptances… I need to get myself into a position where there is some overlap between the books I write being published… I need to get myself to a point where I don’t feel just a crushing sense of fear in that i will maybe never write again i will maybe never publish again i will maybe never never never never never never live

Last night i overheard some people planning a wild night of partying and i just felt such intense envy, jealously, like I’ve never experienced in my life. I mean, that’s not true, it’s not true at all, but it’s not something I’ve felt for anything as simple as intoxicants for a very long time. Christ, I’m bored. Instead of somehow trying to relearn how to make friends and inserting myself into the stranger’s conversation and thus party life, I just went home from work and sat, alone, in the kitchen drinking a beer and a double negroni and reading The Obelisk Gate for an hour. What a fucking loser.

I’m not even drinking enough to be wasted any more. Two drinks does not a solo party make.

It’s difficult to slip into patterns of self-destructive solo behaviour when I’ve spent the last few months editing a manuscript where I write about and explore these patterns in intense and often excessive detail. And I suppose, back then, one thing that I lost when frequently in blackouts was the ability to read.

Though, while blackout drunk, one can scrawl rap lyrics and blog posts and stream-of-consciousness heart rends that (with work and distance) can later be edited into passable literature (well, I can), one can’t enjoy an external work of art with the concentration required to make a genuine connection.

This is why I never got into The Sopranos when I tried to watch it six years ago – I only ever felt comfortable turning it on to watch (using a borrowed DVD lol) – when I was drunk in the kitchen while my ex was stoned in the “living room” (I was not allowed to call it a lounge), and thus every time I started watching an episode I’d have to spend ten minutes finding and reading a recap of the episode beforehand (during which time I’d have another drink) and thus the state of drunkenness I’d be in by the episode’s end would always be too much to remember.

One day I’ll try and watch it again, though maybe the memories of dark mid-decade will be too much for me to handle lolololol I was so unhappy. I’m not unhappy now, which is lovely, but I am incredibly bored and I think it was the absence of boredom that I envied in the hipsters I eavesdroppped on yesterday, rather than the actuality of experience. Feeling excited enough to party, y’know? Feeling like a party was something that could conceivably happen.

Christ. What is this?

Anyway, The Obelisk Gate is the second novel in the Broken Earth trilogy.

It’s about magic and trying to return the out-of-orbit moon back to its elliptical pattern and it’s fun, I suppose, but it’s also very melancholic and very far from reality and the one before had lots of travel and adventure in it, but this volume was very static, just with the main characters getting better and better at doing magic or whatever.

It’s somehow emotive without being very affecting, though: at the end of the day, it isn’t “human emotions” as plot with “magic and monsters” as context; the magic and monsters are both, which means- imo – the novel is a little flat: it didn’t make me cry, and that is not a high bar for me to set as a minimum expectation from a critically-acclaimed narrative text.

Anyway, I should be working rn. I have to go. I’m busy and bored and bored and busy and somehow tired even though I‘ve done nothing for months, if not years now.

Well, at least I’ve made sure the pleasure of regret is good. I need to get another manuscript ready to submit and give my life an ah ah an… aim.

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