Nostalgia was re A new member/can you recomend a DWJ book

Ven ven at vvcrane.junglelink.co.uk
Tue Jul 11 20:22:01 EDT 2000


On Mon 10 Jul JOdel (sorry name missing) wrote
> 
> Actually, pretty near all of DWJ's early books would certainly could connect 
> to the "nostalgia of childhood" factor. They were written well over 20 years 
> ago after all, and the cultural venue in which they were set has developed an 
> almost "period piece" flavor. People don't seem to write stories like The 
> Ogre Downstairs any more, do they? But at the time, they did. Quite a lot of 
> people did, in fact. I would go so far as to say that TOD, of all DWJ's 
> works, conformed about the closest to what served as the standard template 
> for children's fantasy literature since the days of E. Nesbit. Dogsbody is 
> connected to this kind of thing from one side (and to quasi-SF of the other, 
> IMHO) Wilkin's Tooth and, yes, Eight Days of Luke, also although to a lesser 
> extent. And, for that matter, chilly and comfortless and creepy as the body 
> of the story is, Time of the Ghost is almost a textbook example of a "the 
> dark side of..." this sort of story.

I think you're quite right, yet I came at these books from another 
direction entirely, I was 21 when I read my first, EDOL,  3 years 
after it was published and it seemed quite modern then! Incidentally 
as someone who was tackling adult books at an early age I just 
never saw the need to give up the children's library. I grew up with 
Rosemary Sutcliff, Barbara Sleigh, pony books, animal stories, 
Blyton, a lot of classics, especially fantasy, and from the adult 
library  lot of detective stories, romances, historicals and lashings 
of science fiction before there was much adult fantasy. And the 
thing is in those days children's books left a lot out. No divorce, 
rarely poverty(real poverty, I mean I love the Railway Children but 
they were still so privileged), no disfunctional parents -- not mad, 
drug addicted, fanatical or cruel (except the occasional step 
parent, usually historical) no drugs at all of course, nor teenage 
sex or unwanted babies, or even teenagers wanting sex! There 
were exceptions -- I write hastily before everyone writes in with their 
examples. Elizabeth Beresford's fantasies featured some less 
privileged children and so did Alan Garner once he got going. 
However there was a sea change in wriitng for children and young 
adults that occurred in the seventies (in line with a lot of other 
social change). My Dad's a teacher so I used to read his TES. I 
remember articles on this new trend (from the States?) of writing 
about the real lives of real children. Judy Blume came into this a 
lot. A little later on came the ideas about positive role models for 
girls and the introduction of positive minority characters.
It was not long before even the pony books were doing it! All this 
certainly contributed to my continued interest in the genre.

At the time I first read them those early Dwjs seemed quite 
modern. TOG featured a reconstituted family, involving a divorce on 
one side. WT had important black characters and mental illness. 
Dogsbody involved the troubles and racial predjudice, as well as 
Dwj's first bad mother. In some cases the inclusion of these 
elements seems a little awkward, in later books the subtexts are 
far more successfully internalised. So I think these books look 
forward as well as backward, very much a product of their time.

Incidentally for good books about the troubles from both sides 
there's Catherine Sefton (actually a man called Martin something).  

You are trapped in that bright moment where you learned your doom.
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