05/26/2004

Open Thread on Reading

I'm declaring this an open thread for anyone who's reading something they want to share.

I'm currently reading Diane Middlebrook's Her Husband, Hughes and Plath—a Marriage, which forms a background to a project of mine called 'Thought Foxes'. Also newly brought home from the library is Ibid: A Life, which is composed entirely of footnotes. I'm curious to see if the form holds up the story.

May 26, 2004 in good reads | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

05/13/2004

A Dishy Recipe for Fiction

Beth Bernobich, who has brought us such dainties as "The Secret Diaries of Writers and Editors," is in fine form yet again and serving up "A Recipe for Writing Fiction."

May 13, 2004 in good reads | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

06/29/2003

Deeper Magic from the Dawn of Time

This was the book that made me a reader. Or, more precisely, Miss Smithy reading the book aloud to our class is what turned me from reluctant to insatiable.

Reading aloud always took place in the last half-hour of school, when the humiliation of multiplication, the savagery of recess, and the cattiness of the cloakroom were all done for the day. The words slipped over our heads like our old crib blankets.

We liked The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. American schoolchildren in the '60s, we weren't completely sure what a wardrobe was, of course, or if Turkish Delight was like saltwater taffy, or if a sledge was the same thing as a sleigh. No matter, we loved the story and followed Lucy through the wardrobe time after time, watched Edmund form his alliance with the White Witch, slogged through the snow to the Beavers' lodge.

Then, on a Friday, came the chapter where the Witch wins. Aslan the Lion keeps his sacrificial bargain with her and Lucy and Susan hide and watch as he is bound and tormented and finally killed:

They began to drag the bound and muzzled Lion to the Stone Table, some pulling, some pushing. He was so huge that even when they got him there it took all their efforts to hoist him on to the surface of it. Then there was more tying and tightening of cords.

"The cowards! The cowards!" sobbed Susan. "Are they still afraid of him, even now?"

...Four Hags, holding four torches, stood at the corners of the Table. The Witch bared her arms... Then she began to whet her knife.
...
The children did not see the actual moment of the killing. They couldn't bear to look and covered their eyes.

—p. 152

Miss Smithy stopped there. It was time to go home and the weekend stretched very long before us.

I couldn't stand it. Aslan couldn't really be dead. I made my mother take me to the public library and I found The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and I picked up the story where Miss Smithy had left off:

As soon as the wood was silent again Susan and Lucy crept out onto the open hill-top. The moon was getting low and thin clouds were passing across her, but still they could see the shape of the great Lion lying dead in his bonds.

—p.154

They cry over him and work hard to take off his muzzle:

And when they saw his face without it they burst out crying again and kissed it and fondled it and wiped away the blood and the foam as well as they could.

—p. 155

And wiped away the blood and the foam as well as they could. Well, that made it quite real. Aslan was dead.

I kept reading. I didn't stop at the end of the chapter, joyful as that turned out to be, but finished the book and went back to the library and took out the next one in the series. On Monday I was the only one in our class who knew what was going to happen. I didn't tell, of course.

June 29, 2003 in good reads, influences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

06/21/2003

Windy Preamble

This is likely to be the first in a series that will lie alongside "Maybe She Takes After..." (which so far stands as a collection of one, but nevermind).

Just as I keep finding evidence of my forebears in everything I do: I blog experience like Grandpa Paul, I proofread like my mother, I find much to be curious about in the natural world, as does my sister and as did my Grandma Trudy, I like to take long walks and look at buildings, like my architect father, I liked Latin/I married a Latin teacher; it goes on and on and I'll probably write about every connection I can, eventually.

Anyway, just like this sort of influence, another exists. This sort are my written ancestors, rather than my cellular ones. There are certain books I find I must keep by me, even if I do not re-read them very often. These are the ones that made such a strong impression on me the first time around that I need to see their faces (or at least their raggedy spines). Each one made the top of my head fly off in some fashion or another, and, collectively, they've become twisted up in the DNA of my writing practice and obsessions.

The list (which only includes a scant half-dozen of what I stumbed upon before college) includes the following:

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

The Earliest English Poems

Much Ado About Nothing

Til We Have Faces

The Norman Conquests

The Golden Notebook

(I'll explain why in future posts about each of these.)

June 21, 2003 in good reads, influences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack