Ender in Exile

July 23, 2009

book ender

I just finished reading Ender in Exile, the existence of which I wasn’t aware only yesterday.  This is what I love about living in La Crosse.  A new book comes out and (if I’m not the first person to request it and have it handed to me at the check out desk) they just stand it up with one of those little brackets in the new fiction area and I see “Orson Scott Card” emblazoned across its shiny cover in his characteristic typeface and grab it.  Actually it apparently came out last November so its not exactly new new but I’m still excited.  This is exactly what happened yesterday when I stopped by the library after work to pick up some other holds.

I walked home reading the first pages and did all my evening chores with one hand and the book in the other.  I would have been strongly tempted to read it straight through (good sleep on work nights be damned) had a good friend not called and kept me on the phone until long after my accustomed bedtime.  Even then I had to keep talking to her while I turned out the lights in the living room and carefully not touch the book while I got ready for bed.  Even picking it up to see how the paragraph ended would have been fatal.  Card has always been a page turner for me.  I remember reading one of the Ender’s Shadow books, curled up on my bunk in my dorm room, fully dressed in the middle of the day but unable to get up and do anything else till it was finished.  I did have the luxury of staying up all night with it then.

At the same time there’s something deeply unsettling about Card’s writing.  He does the internal monologue of the psychopath a bit too well.  And what is more uncomfortable for me is that I’m never quite sure if he’s doing it on purpose because he’s such a very good writer or if its something internally creepy about his brain. I guess its just not that often that you hear the internal workings of crazy, evil, self-deluded people.  See them on tv and in the movies, sure, but read them through a third-person limited point of view.  Almost universally, I fall in love with characters that I am in sympathy with, that I can imagine being or that I remember being at an earlier time.  Orson Scott Card has characters that I feel that way about but he doesn’t limit himself to them.  And time that I spend inhabiting the mind of Achilles or Peter or Virlomi always leaves me feeling as if I’d just crawled out of an oil slick ocean .  Nevertheless, the books are so enjoyable I always keep reading.  That said, perhaps its time that I go back and give the Speaker for the Dead set another try.  I was probably too young for them the first time around and the memory of how creepy I found the girl from the planet of OCD devotees has held me away from them for too long.

In any case, for anyone who hasn’t read the latest addition to the Ender world … do.  Its gripping, its satisfying and it ties up many loose ends.  Its a good story and now I’m left again with the age old problem of what to do with myself when I am forcibly ejected from the “the end” of my fantasy world and have to pick up again with my actual life.

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