intro and other stuff

JOdel at aol.com JOdel at aol.com
Sun Aug 29 12:11:53 EDT 1999


L'Engle was one of the writers frequently pushed at us as an example of 
science fiction, if you can believe it, in a children's liturature class 
which I took back in college. Her work was also refered to as fantasy, 
although for that genre we had an even worse piece of portentious didacticism 
shoved at us. (Something called Knee Deep in Thunder, I've forgotton the 
author) There was quite a rash of such opuses spat out about that time. 
(Which, as you may guess was back in the early iron age.) They were all 
simplisticly portentious and most of them impressed the hell out of people 
who had been brought up to think of fantasy as "escapist" and somehow harmful 
to chiildren's tender little psyches. A few of them were written by people 
who actually COULD write and those were fairly popular. I had a fondness for 
Zilpha Keatly Snyder's Below the Root trilogy, myself, but never got into 
L'Engle. From what I could see of Wrinkle in Time, L'Engle's strength was in 
her depiction of the family rather than the uniqueness of her vision.

Jane Louise Curry produced one of her first mystery novels (The Ice Ghosts 
Mystery) which had much the same strengths and a MUCH better (and 
better-told) story. 

As to another author to read as well as Jones... Well, that depends upon 
what, precicely, you read Jones FOR. I can say fairly confidently that there 
are few writers of children's or YA fiction who have the nerve to produce 
anything anywhere as complex as Jones's plots. Or at any rate, not without 
becomming extremely verbose and bogging down in the process. 

For the opportunity to become intoxicated on WORDS wealded with outrageous 
verve and irony, I would recommend Leon Gardner. Not his most recent work, 
which seems mostly to be short books for very young readers (I suspect he has 
aquired grandchildren), but his somewhat earlier novels. He writes 
historicals, mostly set in the 18th century, and some ghost stories. He has 
also produced some semi-fictional work such as Child-O-War which encases the 
actual account of a sailor of Nelson's time, and The Book Lovers which 
exerpts various passagesd from classic literature in an enclosing frame. His 
retellings of Greek myth (with James Blishen) are stunning. It may not be 
easy to get hold of all of his work, since most of his novels were produced 
in the '60s and '70s, but some are still bound to be in the library. Check 
the YA shelves as well. Almost any of them would be a good example of what he 
has to offer, but a few seem definitely for older readers. (The Prisoners of 
September, Sound of Coaches & The Pleasure Garden in particular.)

Jane Louise Curry, mentioned above, is also a solid good read. She has also 
been writing since the early '70s at least, but is still producing very good 
stories for older children. She started out writing fantasy but recently has 
settled into children's mysteries. She has also fairly recently developed a 
family which she has featured in two stories and produced excellent ensemble 
work with them, both times. Check out Me , Myself and I, Poor Tom's Ghost or 
either of the Smith books for starters. 

Note to the list. I tried to send a fairly long post recently and recieved 
back a message that Tanaqui2 was not accepting messages from my account. But, 
no one else appears to have gotten it either, and I did not get it back 
myself, despite haveing posted it to the whole list. Clearly there was a 
glitch somewhere. Is there a limitation on the size of posts?
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