On the Shelf: Jim Butcher

Because I really need to be editing tonight, I thought I’d fire off another post about who I read and why.  Sorry if this one is tilting toward the obvious — who doesn’t read Jim Butcher‘s work?

How I Found Him

I’m embarrassed to admit this one. My dad made me watch the syfy show. The one with the brunette Murphy, the Harry who was never beat up enough, too clean cut, too short and not nearly badass enough.  The one that has a person playing Bob (I believe this is because it would be too hard to do Bob’s skull effects without it being cheesy).  Yes, the show that had the temerity to leave out one of the most crucial elements of Harry’s life: the Blue Beetle.   This is like Mercy without her Rabbit, man. It’s just not right.

But I didn’t know that at the time. At the time, I just liked the premise…. and I thought Paul Blackthorne was cute.

However, just like all of those other television shows and movies based on books, it opened the books to a new audience, including me.  Knowing that the TV/Movie is NEVER as good as the book, I immediately looked it up in my preferred medium.

Why I Love Reading His Work

I love Dresden’s world so much. I have read a whole bunch of the Buffy-style genre that includes things that go bump in the night overlaid on top of our real world.  I’ve seen those that do it well (ahem, like Butcher) and those who just sort of phone in the worlds that collide and get to the Vampire smut.

My favorite part about Harry’s life is that it is eternally shades of grey. Only the Knights of the Cross are truly good (and then they are almost too good, to where they are dangerously so).  Some of the bump-in-the-nights are truly evil (I’ve got nothing good to say about Red court vamps. Or Black court for that matter.) But generally speaking,  Harry’s world is dealing with nothing so absolute. Harry has to work with a series of judgement calls based on what he knows and what he was to work with in a given moment.  I love the ambiguity, because to me, this is a super-sized version of what we all have to do every day.

Thanks to Paul Blackthorne and a superimposed version of Harry based on Butcher’s descriptions, I have a total character-crush on the Wizard For Hire.   The humor, the cultural call-outs, the sheer fun of these books keep me filling the “keep” shelf.

What I Learn About Writing From Him

One thing that Butcher does artfully is remind the reader what happened from one book to the next without making us feel like we’re slogging through backstory, and without condescension. This is something I hope I can learn, because many author’s attempts are clunky and awkward at best.

One thing that I can’t take away from Butcher’s writing is the pacing.  Dresden has to move more, go through more hell, and get less sleep than Jack Bauer in a season of 24.  I can barely take the stress. You’ll notice I’m not talking about the Codex Alera novels. That’s because I haven’t gotten to them yet. I have to take a 6 -week break between Dresden novels as it is.  Harry’s life wears me out. The pacing is breakneck. Which is awesome, but it’s also exhausting.  Sorry, as much as I enjoy it,  I won’t be able to put my characters through that kind of pace.

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6 thoughts on “On the Shelf: Jim Butcher

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