dwj-digest (Diana Wynne Jones) V1 #70

mwarner at azstarnet.com mwarner at azstarnet.com
Mon Aug 30 21:47:05 EDT 1999

>Wanted to toss in my two bits to Max and Antonia's discussion:
>> >I'll start by introducing myself. My name is Antonia, I'm 15, and I'm
>> >Chilean (as in from South America). I moved to Tucson AZ about three
>> years
>> >ago, so I speak english now. I read a lot (which helped me learn english)
>>         Hi!  Hooray!  More DWJ fans!
>	Yay!  Hey Antonia, have you read any Isabel Allende?  Of course I
>ask because you hail from Chile, but really because I really like her plot
>twists and her descriptive writing - and that's just the translations!  I
>like magic realism stories because my fave fantasy is the kind that sprouts
>from the recognizable world - that frisson of imagining that if you turned
>left instead of right coming out of the house in the morning - who knows
>what could happen.  So in that way, it does relate back to dwj.

	Why I have! (as any good Chilean would do) I've only read one of her books
though, because even though I like them a lot they're very hard to follow
(at least for me they are). I read The House of the Spirits, or something
like that, I don't know the exact translation. It's a beautiful book, with
a mix of politics and the supernatural, which you would think would be
pretty sour. It was also made into a really good movie, but they cut out
all the relations to Chile and made the setting in a vague South American
place instead, so all of us Chileans got irrationally mad and patriotic.
The only bad thing I have to say about it is that the basic plot is
suspiciously similar to Gabriel Garcia Marquez "A hundred years of
solitude" (again not sure about the translation), and she obviously got the
idea from him. Now that is a hard book, it has at least 20 generations and
a frequent renaming, so by the end you get a headache trying to figure out
who's kids is who's. Anyway, they're both excellent authors with excellent
books, even if they're a little more philosophical than what I can handle =)

>> >I concluded that us DWJ fans are forced to walk this
>> >earth isolated from each other for some unknown reason. 
>>         It *does* feel like that!
>But no longer, all hail Deborah!


>	I second everything you say, dwj seems like she has a relentless
>bead on storytelling and what's important in it. As to ideas of Literature,
>I found it very confusing in school because there was this strain of (-I
>don't know if I'm going to catch this one on the mark but -) that whole idea
>of the genius being above the common herd, of highfalutin' art in a rarefied
>zone, of certain stories about certain people and things being better and
>More Art than others about other things.  And people would condemn one book
>categorically as being unworthy in some way, less art.  It seemed pretty
>harsh to me. It felt like an enormous, smothering, unhappy blanket of ideas
>that I couldn't find my way out of.  From being excited to meet other people
>who were interested in arts and ideas, I ended up feeling like I wanted to
>avoid them.  Luckily I've been pleasantly surprised since that time!

I think I understand what both of you guys are saying, and I'll try to
explain it as clearly. It's like every once in a while I feel guilty for
preferring DWJ to all those other highly intellectual, trying to get the
meaning of the world authors, because she doesn't go that far (and I'm
glad!). It's not that those writers are bad, it's just that they're not as
entertaining as DWJ or others like her. A lot of grown-ups (lol, I know
most of you are just that =) push those kinds of books my way when they
discover I'm an avid reader, and it annoys me because I get the feeling
that my liking DWJ is like a dirty secret or something. I know that's not
the case, not by far, I'm just saying sometimes I feel that way a little
bit. Argh, this isn't coming out right. Maybe you guys will know what I mean. 

	I also wanted to say that I think I may have been a little harsh about
Madeleine L'Engle. I've read about four books by her, and I haven't read
what seems to be the best one, A Wrinkle in Time. So maybe I didn't know
what I was talking about, or I haven't read the right books by her, I don't
know. I think I'll try to find all the authors you have mentioned, see how
I like them. 
	A book that absolutely fascinated me when I was little was The Little
Prince, by Antoine De Saint-Exupery. I'm sure most of you know it, I think
it's fairly famous. It's kind of like an appreciation of children, of their
innocence and beauty. I love how the narrator talks about when he was a kid
he drew an elephant inside of a constrictor boa and showed it to the
adults, and they all thought it was a hat. If you haven't read it, you
don't know what you're missing!


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