1. Be warned, anyone thinking of reading 3K, that once begun you cannot stop. Chapter a day, or five chapters a day, or whatever, but don't let it drop because you'll never pick up the thread again.
Truly, there are just too many people to keep track of, and their relation to each other is likely to be unclear to a foreign reader. Noodling around in warrior bios I discover Zhang Miao and Chen Gong revolting against Cao Cao when he was away leading a campaign against Tao Qian. I'd just read that chapter with Tao Qian, and the two generals striking off on their own, but what was news to me, what wasn't mentioned anywhere that I could see, was that they were Cao Cao's men rebelling against their leader. Either I was supposed to remember from whenever Zhang Miao and Chen Gong were first introduced (probably in a passage like 'Cao Cao gave command of the first army to Zhang Miao, Yue Jin and Xiahou Dun, and backed by Zhang He, Chen Gong, and Zheng Hao, they rode out to join up with Shi Cuan, Yang Xin and Cai Yang') or I was just supposed to know that because Everyone Does. 3K needs an index ohhh sooo badly.
Dunno how this thing reads in Chinese but in English it's a dull flat narrative devoid of high style, stirring events, or any details one could use to remember who's who. No individualistic touches, no striking anecdotes, everyone and everything as bland as bland can be, interrupted by bland mass slaughter every few pages. Oh how I miss the Heike, who wrote poems and played flutes and revelled in their mono no aware. Aside from occasional typos (The Yellow Scares and their chronic rebellion) nothing here enlivens the slog. Wiki again gives me odd little anecdotes (like the one about Xiahou Dun) and I assume they come from the romance, but they haven't come yet.
2. Walking about the neighbourhood I discover someone has decorated the bare branches of their looks-to-be-a-plum tree with many colourful plastic easter eggs suspended from ribbon. All I could think of, natch, was Gou Jian's iconographic gall bladder.
3. Am reading John Ford's Casting Fortune and not enjoying it as much as I'd hoped. Nothing against the prose or the stories, except I suspect him of leaving out important details, that being some people's way of telling stories. But a number of people have mentioned him recently, since last Friday was his birthday. (He'd have been 52 if he hadn't died in '06.) And the people who mention him are mostly what someone recently called Guests of Honour: the big noises in SFF who perhaps don't realize they're no longer struggling young comrades whose silliness and irreverence creates a shared bond, but are now the Establishment, who look like prats if they're still doing the same stuff they did at 25. Whatever, the GoHs haven't been behaving very well this year; and they all have ljs, if they haven't deleted them, in which they act cronyish with other GoHs, and it's all a bit too pally-chummy for me, frankly. For overweight, Casting Fortune is set in Shetterley and Bull's Liaver universe, and a knee-jerk kimoi automatically comes with those names. My reading is thus dogged by a polite but determined sense of 'I would prefer not.'
(Yes, of course I judge people by who they hang out with, or hung out with, whichever. That was common sense from the Greeks through the 60s. I don't know where they came up with this 'Don't judge me by my friends' thing. You choose your friends as you choose your clothing style and hygiene habits, and what you choose says something about you. I may hope these people chose Ford and he was nice enough to accommodate them, not the other way round.)
4. Am being nagged at by Gou Jian and Fu Chai wanting me to tell their story. The trouble is that there are two stories to tell. The one I like goes off into the starry blue yonder of Didn't happen, couldn't have happened, isn't even close to what happened. The other one contains the Woxin characters. I'm not allowed to have both, that option clearly being reserved for geniuses. What to do, what to do?