Disclaimer: I am not a Pendarvis expert! I just buy his books sometimes and look at the pages sequentially. Is that reading? Am I “reading” his books? I haven’t figured that out yet, and I’m okay with it.
And you never tell people you finished a Pendarvis book. You tell people, “I think I actually just read this.”
It’s not the writing we see so much of today, in which the words squirm with joy when you condescend to glance at them. Bookstores can be like walking into an animal shelter: all the books are so goddamn happy to see you:
“See how ready I am to go home with you?”
“Watch me do an ingratiating thing!”
“Get close and I’ll lick your fingers through this fence.”
With Pendarvis writing, you’re aware of yourself reading it because it seems to know when you’re looking at it. The books have this woke air that says, “Yeah, I’m a book. You know what to do.” And when you read it, it starts air-quoting everything. It’s a lensing effect achieved through wholly literary means, just an all-around incredible accomplishment.
I’ll always admire The Dragon’s Hump, which mocks early epic fantasy, written as Jack R.R. Pendarvis. Excerpt:
…The forest was named for the wingbat, having been called Winbahoi since the oldest times, meaning “Place of the Wingbat” in the tongue of the elders with their dark religions. So reflected Serval Lancet, peeling off his long and ceremonial velvet gloves, taking care not to get any life fluid on himself.
Mur was standing around scoffing at him and tossing her glossy black locks ruefully with disdain.
“Yes, what a shame it would be to get life fluid on your innocent pale hands, my fine priest. Never mind that when you turn me over to Lord Hexulon he will most certainly impale me on the gibbet until I am quite spent and my doomed spirit has flown to the Shadowy Bearings.”
“Methinks you do Lord Hexulon a disservice,” said Serval Lancet in his usual meek and polite way. He was looking about for a Clear Hole in which to sanctify his digits according to the law of scripture. Thinking to do so, he pulled back the fronds of a shovel-bush, but it was no gurgling spring he had heard. What should meet his eyes but a wingbat nest, and an infant wingbat tossing and gurgling most sadly in the shredded leaves?
“Well, I hope you’re happy now,” said Mur.
“And yet I am not,” admitted Serval Lancet.
— Jack R.R. Pendarvis via vice.com
Research portion of post: This LA Weekly review points out that Pendarvis is like a humorous Saunders.