Monday, November 11, 2013

Hild roundup #2

Stuff is coming in just a bit faster than I'd anticipated, so for this roundup of all things Hild-ish (for more see Hild Roundup #1) I'm going to divide links into sections.

First, the reviews. So far they've been stellar. Here, for your delectation and delight:

Edited to add: reviews from and The Proximal Eye, plus a wee snippet of news from Whitby.

Seattle Times review by Nisi Shawl
Steeping us in the taste of seventh-century England’s mead, the weight and warmth of its gorgeously woven and embroidered fabrics, and the myriad sights, sounds and scents of long ago, Seattle writer Nicola Griffith has created a marvel and a joy... But it’s the book’s sheer beauty that will most astonish readers. As Hild rushes to rescue her now-grown half-brother and his wife, she envisions herself as a hawk stooping to kill his pursuers. “Waking and sleeping alike were one thing of hollowing air and falling.” Sharp as steel, clear as garnet, essential and sensual and right, Griffith’s telling of Hild’s adventures offers us something far better than mere comfort: the lure of the sublime.

Vulpes Libris, Kate McDonald
Hild, Nicola Griffith’s fifth novel, is very long and very detailed. It’s also the most absorbing and addictive story I’ve read in years. I was subliminally resentful for days until I finished it, finally, at 3am on a Sunday morning. By Sunday afternoon I had started reading it all over again. Being gobbled alive by a story isn’t so uncommon, but needing to go back and be gobbled up all over again only hours later is a mark of something exceptional. Several weeks later, I began it for a third time, because I simply couldn’t get the story out of my head, and wanted to get back into Hild’s world.

Lambda Literary Review, Susan Stinson
Hild is magnificent, an urgent, expansive pleasure... This is a big book, in every sense of the word. The pages fly by. The great surges of politics, economics and religion fuel and never overcome the tremendous force of the story. The world changes within the book, within Hild, and within the reader lucky enough to fall under its power. Hild is a pulse-pounding page-turner. It is a rich and inspired work of fiction. It is a book that fills both the urge to be taken away and the urge to be brought closer, to be called, as the jackdaws call, both outward and home., by Alyx Dellamonica
In the hands of a great storyteller, it carries us into lands every bit as faraway and exotic as Frank Herbert’s Arrakis or Ursula Le Guin’s Gethen. Historical fiction even makes aliens of our ancestors, by illuminating how humanity’s attitudes, beliefs and cultural practices have changed over centuries gone by. Such a book is Nicola Griffith’s Hild…a remarkable fictional account of Hilda’s early years. […] This is a book sure to be compared with everything from The Mists of Avalon and Wolf Hall to, I’m betting, The Lord of the Rings. It has it all—the epic sweep, the utterly convincing level of detail, and the larger-than-life characters. Griffith has taken a handful of pages from the Venerable Bede and made a gift of them for us all, creating in Hild a passionate, unique and thoroughly unforgettable heroine.

The Proximal Eye, by Mark W. Tiedemann
I mention science fiction at the beginning because at a certain level, if we’re dealing with something deeper than costume drama or plot-driven adventure fiction, the exercise of finding, comprehending, and actualizing on the page an entire period from the past—Republican Rome, Hellenic Greece, the Mesopotamia of the Sumerians, the Kingdom of Chin, or post Roman England—is much the same as building a world out of logic and broad-based knowledgeable extrapolation. In some instances, extrapolation is all-important because the fact is we simply do not know enough to more or less copy a record into a fictional setting. Instead, we have to take the tantalizing scraps of what remain of that world and supply the connective tissue by imagining what must, what probably, what could have been there. And in the process we discover a new world.

Next, the interviews:

Los Angeles Times interview by Gwenda Bond
Q: You start with Hild at age 3 and we follow her to early adulthood. How scary was it when you sat down to begin?
I was frankly terrified. I wanted to write a novel set in the 7th century — about which most readers know nothing. I wanted to write a novel of character on an epic canvas. I wanted to write something so immersive that the reader would live Hild's life alongside her. ... Hild had to be in every scene — no relying on "Meanwhile, back in the point-of-view of a character you'd forgotten existed..." But how do you write an epic from one point of view? And at the same time how do you create a world that won't feel too alien to most readers? The thing was impossible!
The only way to be a novelist, to think that you can create something others will give themselves up to for a dozen hours or more, is to have psychotic self-belief.

Seattle Times interview by Mary Ann Gwinn
Q: You portray the natural world in 7th-century England as wild and beautiful, though man had already changed things. How much of the natural world remains in northern England?
A: You can still go on the moors and see nothing except an ancient Roman road, and heather, and sheep. Most of England, everywhere you go you see the hand of humankind, though that would have been true in Hild’s time.
One of the things that broke my heart was when I came across a book, “The Birds of Yorkshire,” which had to be 100 years old. I thought, “Oh, they aren’t here anymore.” These days you can’t casually knock over a nest and take the eggs for your collection — that might be half the breeding pairs of a species.
Finally the news, which this time is mainly Hild making a few lists
plus a link to Whitby Online which has snippets of recent Whitby-related news, just in case you're interested (though I couldn't find a particularly specific link, so the nifty stuff I just read might not be there is a day or two):
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