Tam Lin

Ven ven at vvcrane.junglelink.co.uk
Sat Sep 9 23:44:00 EDT 2000

Kyla and Kyra wrote about Pamela Dean's Tam Lin 
Kyra wrote

I also really wish that things that were really emphasized were 
explained: the bunk beds, the prevalence of green, why Peg
> sleepwalks, if the ghost is really a ghost.

Pamela Dean is definitely not one to overexplain things! Its an 
approach I find alternately intriguing and infuriating. It seems to 
come from choosing pov characters who haven't much idea whats 
going on and then sticking very tightly to that pov, no handy nods 
or winks to the reader, no verbose sidekicks to helpfully explain 
things and no hindsight.

I never got the bunk beds business, it almost seemed as though 
something was cut or not followed through. I think Peg's 
sleepwalking may have been something the ghost got her to do so 
that she would throw the books for it, but I'm not sure. The colour 
green, as in the original ballad is a fairy colour (sometimes held to 
be unlucky) its also a coded reference to pregnancy -- a green 
complexion = morning sickness.

> Yeah, the book *is* fun, but
> people I know who went to Carleton (Blackstock is a *very* thinkly
> disguised Carleton Collegge) weren't nearly as amused by it;

Thats interesting, tell us more. Its apparent insider view of 
American college life seemed very alien. Does everyone really have 
to put up with assigned room mates for example? And I found it 
hard to believe they'd put up with a work schedule that allowed so 
little free time (as when Janet is seeing her boyfriend for half an 
hour every week, or is it month?.
and I really
> like Janet, but I don't understand why she dates Nick for so long.	
> 	One very silly problem with the book is that it makes readers who
> aren't yet in college think that when they are that age they will be able
> to quote Great Literature with as much ease as the characters. Maybe we
> should all have had much more misspent youths. :^)

Janet seems to have grown up with academic parents addicted to 
quoting but I find it a bit annoying. I have to look up literary stuff I 
want to quote if its more than a few words (and I graduated a long 
time ago!). I also find it rather elitist. I definitely got the impression 
she (Pamela Dean) thinks everyone should know and love the 
same works she does. I didn't like the way Christine was despised 
for not being able to play the quotations game and for not liking 
Janet's books. I suspect I found it so infuriating because being a 
Brit I'm used to a different list of elite literature, so she (PD again) 
made me feel ignorant. The thing is though my usual reaction to 
coming across books I don't know in books that I like is to seek 
them out, not to feel excluded. 

All the same I agree theree's a lot of good stuff in this book and I 
didn't mind the ending. I've just read PD's Juniper , Gentian and 
Rosemary. It has similar faults to Tam Lin, the quoting, the opacity 
of the writing. I couldn't put it down, however. Strange book, i've not 
yet decided what I think. I'm waiting for my friend Sarah to finish it 
so I can her opinion, anyone else able to oblige?  


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