Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Book Review: "The Lies of Locke Lamora" by Scott Lynch

When Virgin Megastore first opened in Jeddah I was among the first visitors. The promise of a new bookstore (with a potentially new collection) was far too seducing for me. The place was still in soft opening mode and the books section in particular was a mess. Still, being the bibliophile that I am, I waded bravely through the convoluted sea of pulp, seeing if I could find any treasure. And treasures I did find. Among my catch was "The Lies of Locke Lamora" which has been on my Amazon wish list for a while now. When it first hit the public consciousness, this debut book by Scott Lynch made plenty of waves, garnering accolades from critics and readers alike. Even getting itself a movie license. Quite a reputation to a live up to. Unto the purchase pile with ye, then.

Locke Lamora is the celebrated Thorn of Camorr; master thief, con artist extraordinaire, and man of mysteries. A man whose prowess is the stuff of legends. A reputation that suits the less remarkable Locke just fine. But things never go smoothly in the turbulent underworld of the fantastic city of Camorr. Just as Locke and his crew, the Gentlemen Bastards, are conducting their latest con, a shadowy figure enters the city and tips the careful criminal balance, threatening to overthrow the current leaders of not only the lawless underworld, but the noble masters of the city itself.

Now this book was fun! Think of it as an Ocean's Eleven set in a fantasy city based on Venice. The city of Camorr, with its rich and detailed imagery and history, quickly becomes something of a second character in the book, with its own personality and charm. But even more charming is Locke. While he is not exactly the most complex of literary characters he is very fun to read. Following his development from cunning street urchin to charming confidence trickster is almost as enjoyable as watching him navigate through yet another scam. Don't come here looking for high literary worth, or deep philosophical insight. This is a light read that doesn't claim to be anything other than that.

For some reason people love to read about other people getting tricked, which explains the success of the "heist" genre. "The Lies of Locke Lamora" delivers the goods and should ensure an enjoyable evening read.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

10 Months of Being Married - The Aftermath

So, the official reason I haven't been blogging for such a long while was that my new state as the King of the Damned a happily married husband has been taking much of my time. While partially true, the real reason was a combination of laziness and a chronic case of the dreaded writer's block. Hning of Hningswara finally convinced me to finally try and dust off the cobwebs. I may not return to any form of regular update, but I'm going to give it another try.

So it's been 10 months of marriage for this previously anti marriage person. While it's more traditional to wait for a year before one would wax lyrical about a new experience, I thought I'd go anti-establishment and use the more metric 10 month mark. Most of it will be rambling while I find my writing voice again, if I ever actually had one in the first place.

Plus it gives me an excuse to write.

So here it goes; a review of the marital state of being.

Progression to Harmony

I was under no illusions. Marriage is one part romance, three parts compromise. Having two different people, both with highly independent streaks not only to co-habitate but to share a life is no easy task. And it wasn't. After the honey moon, it was a turbulent month or so while we set boundaries, marked territories, found common ground, and agreed on what not to agree on. Afterwards, the dust settled, and all the spilled paint turned to a nice, comfortable, uniform gray.

A huge number of marriages fail in this test, I had always known. Delaying the trial by fire would only prolong the suffering. So with gritted teeth I shouldred my lance and spurred my warhorse into the frey. Which is why I saw us passing this crucial rite of passage relatively unharmed as a confirmation of the commitment both of us had to making this relationship work.

Compromise and Change

I now listen to more Arabic music, watch Turkish soap operas, have (much) better fashion sense. She has a new found appreciation for the works of Hayao Miyazaki and stupid stoner comedy. But we still have an unresolved discussion over the artistic worth of romantic comedies and violent action movies. On the other hand, we share a common love for horror movies, Italian food, and Monopoly.

We were two different people, with many incompatibilities. Now, we are still two different people with many incompatibilities, but with a greater understanding of our individuality coupled with enough confidence in one's self not to feel threatened by the other person's field of independance.


We find that our view of the marital state of being is somewhat unchanged. It is still not for everybody, and find that society's inclination to force people into marriage to be laughable at best. That being said, if you are one of those lucky enough to have had the configuration of the stars just right, then I give matrimony five stars (out of how many stars? Ah, wouldn't you like to know!), and am looking forward to the next challenge; explaining to the persistant would-be-grandmothers why we have not reproduced our genetic code yet.