The most entertaining author what ain't dead yet

I’ve prattled in recent months about my newfound adoration for Patrick O’Brian, and I may have prattled a little about my even more newly found adoration for Herman Melville, but it’s been a while since I’ve prattled about my favorite living author, Steven Brust.

I was reminded of how cool Brust is by a short interview he recently gave, in which he:

  1. Answered the phone with, “I’m your huckleberry.”
  2. Made a joke about hex.
  3. Talked about how he likes to occasionally cuddle his OED.
  4. Mentioned that he often plays Pirates of the Caribbean (among other movies) in the background while he writes.

One of the things that makes Brust’s books so entertaining is that he practices what he calls the “Cool Stuff” Theory of Literature:

All literature consists of whatever the writer thinks is cool. The reader will like the book to the degree that he agrees with the writer about what’s cool. And that works all the way from the external trappings to the level of metaphor, subtext, and the way one uses words. In other words, I happen not to think that full-plate armor and great big honking greatswords are cool. I don’t like ‘em. I like cloaks and rapiers. So I write stories with a lot of cloaks and rapiers in ‘em, ‘cause that’s cool.

The novel should be understood as a structure built to accommodate the greatest possible amount of cool stuff.

I was first introduced to Steven Brust’s books several years ago by an old friend from high school who I ran into at Barnes and Noble. He handed me a copy of To Reign in Hell that had a positively glowing foreword in which Roger Zelazny of all people waxed fanboyish about Brust’s badassery. I bought it, devoured it, and went back for more. I didn’t stop reading Brust until I’d read everything he’d written. Then I passed the time by thrusting the books at my friends and demanding that they read them.

In fact, it was Brust’s self-proclaimed love for O’Brian (and, of course, the movie by Peter Weir) that led me to start reading the Aubrey-Maturin series, which I’ve also devoured (luckily I haven’t finished it yet; I’m not sure what I’ll do once I have).

If you haven’t read anything by Brust, run, don’t walk, to the nearest bookstore. I’m serious. Just buy everything with his name on it and start reading. You can thank me later.