Gratitude (Dean's Tam Lin spoilers)

Kyra Jucovy klj at
Mon Sep 4 21:50:34 EDT 2000

	Well, I wanted to thank all of you for discussing _Tam Lin_ so as
to convince me to read it.  I just did over this summer vacation, and it
was simply the most engaging reading experience I've had since PKD's
_Valis_ a year and a half ago.  I had a deeply hard time tearing myself
away from it :).  It's far from a perfect book - I get the feeling
that both _Dark Lord_ and _Deep Secret_, which I also read and enjoyed
somewhat less, will probably be a lot better on the second read than _Tam
Lin_ will be on it's second read (especially _Deep Secret_).  But it was
really quite good - although it's not helping me in my vague thoughts
about choosing a major next semester.
	Favorite points: I happen to really like that style of plotting a
lot.  Fun, fun, fun.  Also, I loved Janet's attitude towards things - of
course I enjoy Tolkien-esque deep fantasy at times, but in the end I like
this more ironic stance.
	Least favorite points: Either I'm missing something, or there are
some serious logical flaws in this novel.  It's entirely possible I'm
missing something, of course ;-).  Anyway, there are lots of problems with
timing.  Since Robin is said to have taken Aristophanes as a freshman and
to be taking it for the second time in the first year of the book, how
come he's still at college in the fourth year?  If he's staying an extra
year, why is it never commented on?  Why is it implied that Peg and
Sharon, who started as sophomores, are still rooming together in the
fourth year?  As for Thomas, the chronology given him just doesn't make
any sense.  If he's really a junior at the beginning of the book, as he
(or Tina) says, then how come staying on for three years gives him a
"seven year stay"?  He has to be a senior.  Then, at the end of the book,
it's implied that he was actually in his fifth year at the beginning - he
claims to have been caught by Medeous "seven years ago" - surely he must
mean six years ago, though?  If he were caught seven years ago in his
freshman year, then he would be in his eighth year of college now -
besides, seven years ago, there must have been a tithe, since that girl
committed suicide - but he doesn't mention that in his story - it's pretty
obvious he starts out as a senior, but these other mentions really
confused me - perhaps this is petty, but they did bother me - surely it
would not have cost Dean that much effort to keep track of this.
	On a more aesthetic level: why are there details that aren't
followed up, like the bunk bed thing?  Unless there is some subtle reason
for why the bunk bed (or lack thereof) is important that I just didn't
understand.  I _hate_ the speeded up final three years - usually, I don't
have a problem with seemingly extraneous details - for example, the
character of Diane Zimmerman is not that important to the novel, but she
doesn't bother me at all.  But the cat Meebe seems completely random - why
throw him in and spend so much time on him this late in the book when
there are lots of other things we'd much rather be seeing happen.  And
finally, and most importantly, the ending was really disappointing, and
seriously lowered my estimate of the book by making it seem less coherent
than I had thought.  I guess that, no matter how much I rail at F&H for
its cursed ending, this shows that I prefer open endings after all - at
least, in a book like this, which is all about subtlety and nuance,
putting in an ending that just goes and explains everything like that,
trusting very little in the reader's imagination and intelligence, really
bothers me.
	Just wanted to comment on it since I haven't gotten my brother or
mother to read it yet ;-).  A really impressive book, although I've been
concentrating on my complaints - I definitely want to read more Dean.


But the flaw of the novel-reader is to want to know what will happen if a
situation is allowed to develop unmolested.

				---Pamela Dean, _Tam Lin_

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