Caitlin R. Kiernan

The next few entries were written at the gate, waiting to fly from O’Hare to Detroit to Atlanta and pasted in sometime later if you are reading this:

On the flight out, I started to read Caitlin R. Kiernan’s Threshold. It’s getting on towards ten years since the very first time I met her. That was at a Dragon*Con when I sat next to her on a panel about “How to Break into Writing”, I think in 1994 although it might conceivably have been 1993. I’m pretty sure it would have been no later than 1994. She’s a hard lady to ignore, tall and lovely and very goth. I read her novel Silk in preparation for our first interview, and did it entirely by paging with the Unix more command. She had sent me a floppy disk with the text of the novel in it, and I paged through the text file to read it. Not the most enjoyable e-text experience I’ve ever had but it was the first novel I read that way. The Handspring with iSilo is a much nicer experience. Anyway, I like Threshold a lot, and hadn’t realized it was related to the short story I had read about the Birmingham water works until I got into it. I like the feel of dread and more or less dig almost everything about her style except for one thing. She does this thing of compound adjectives that I don’t like. Picking up the book at random, I read for two paragraphs before finding “… this Eden stretching wide beneath the gemblue sky.” Pretty much every page has something like this, “drunksweat”, “grayblue”, or whatever. As common as they are in this book, everytime I hit one it jolts me out of the act of reading and makes me think “Caitlin has just done one of her stylistic touches.” It happens with just enough regularity to keep me from submerging myself in the experience. I’m enjoying the book quite a bit but I wish that it was a little easier to just get lost in it. Every one of these things is a little speed bump on the way to that. I would recommend it, though. It is a good and creepy experience, with lots of Lovecraftian dread but without the purple unto ultraviolet prose.

Time Passes
Now it is later and I have finished Threshold. I was getting interrupted a lot so I might have missed something, but the last few pages didn’t quite make as much sense to me as I’d have liked. I trust Caitlin’s control of writing enough that I blame myself. Overall, I liked this book quite a bit. I’d say its primary strength is in mood, not in plot which is a tad haphazard. I do recommend it as a good read.