Adventures in Reading


Bookends: Staggering Piles of Books and Stephenie Meyer’s Release Party

I always promise myself that I will never, ever do it again. But yet I do time and time again. What is this unnamed dysfunction of mine? Allowing books to pile up post reading that I really ought to write about but Procrastination (note the capital “P”) is my friend. The benefit to waiting is that it allows me time think of a book and to write about said book after I’ve had a period of detachment. This usually ensures a (somewhat) less subjective and opinionated commentary. However, this also makes it seem more like homework and another dreaded task (like the dishes stacking up) that I need to do. I’ve had a great accomplishment today and went ahead to clear out the pile.

One of the most vital and amazing occurrences resulting from J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter madness has to be the phenomena of midnight book release parties. On one hand it’s a marketing gimmick that allows for stress and tension to escalate around the book. “Well if you don’t reserve a copy now there’s no way I can guarantee when we’ll have another batch in…” Every time I have uttered this I have felt like a complete shit but it’s what lowly booksellers are supposed to do and it is more or less true. But on the positive side, how often do gads of people really become so excited and silly over a book? This type of mania I find empowering in the book world.

So I volunteered to work at my store’s Breaking Dawn party, which included debates, trivia, pictures, painting, costumes, music, prizes, food and drinks, and a monstrously good time. (Three hundred screaming female adolescents can’t be wrong! Just think about the Beatles.) And as annoying as the evening was at times and as frustrating as it is knowing that [1] a really amazing work of literature will never have the same reception, it was wonderful seeing so many readers come together for the event and spread their excitement. [2]

[1] I know I’m begging for a verbal bitch smack, but I really cannot seem to completely shatter the bounds of literature versus Literature.
[2] Granted, I was mostly simultaneously horrified at the sheer cattiness (despite the feminist in me there is no more apt description) that hissed out from many overheard comments. My suggestion to female adolescents: you’re all physically beautiful and every time you attempt to tear someone else down you’re really only hurting yourself and your friends.



Book Related Musings

I have been devouring the German author Walter Moers’ The City of Dreaming Books. My recent devotion to this novel is a mix of my adoration for my books, the sensational story line, and Moers brilliant hand at writing. Particularly after my dry spell with more recent books, I am thrilled that I have stumbled into the land of Zamonia and to be led on adventures by such a brilliant author. This, however, is not my final look at the book.

The City of Dreaming Books (and the rest of Moers’ books) are located in fiction, but they are undoubtedly fantasy. One reason I have such respect for Moers is his talent at constructing a fantastical locale. Fantasy authors (or anyone writing of something fantastical) are challenged in at least one manner other authors are not: they are creating something, someone, or somewhere that is entirely unreal. Of course in most fantasy books you will find remnants of reality but a fantasy author must be well schooled in suspension of disbelief. However, one area of suspension of disbelief that I have not seen too many conversations on is the length of development.

Moers provides exactly perfect size slice of fantastical narrative and he does this over and over again. I have often come across fantasy authors (including those I love to those I loathe) who spend a great deal of time constructing the fantasy and the reader easily becomes bored, and on the other hand there are fantasy authors who spend such little time on one area and spend a great deal of time skipping from one idea to the next that the reader is left unsatisfied. Moers repeatedly provides perfection.

This brings me to something else I have been musing about lately. Not too long ago a ripple of excitement spread throughout the world when J.K. Rowling disclosed that Dumbledore was gay. What I was most interested were critical reactions to this. Neil Gaiman, another fantasy author, in short said that when you create a world you always have to leave details out. In some of the more academic communities I peruse the general reaction was: bunk.

Where is this all going? No where, but I did find this division between fantasy (which has had quite the difficult time in being viewed as “acceptable”) and fiction a fascinating discussion.

I must thank the Google image search for this post’s image found at HectorCasanova.net.