Tam Lin

Dorian E. Gray israfel at eircom.net
Sun Sep 10 12:51:24 EDT 2000

Ven said...
> 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.
> 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.

I always rather thought that things like the bunk beds were just examples of
the general weirdness of Janet's situation.  Here she is just starting
college, and everything is new and strange...but some things are strange in
a wider context, because this is a deeply peculiar college.  The bunk beds
and such are just scene-dressing.
> > 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;
Though a friend of mine goes to the *other* university in that town, and
thinks the book is great!

> 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?.)

I got the impression that Janet and Nick's schedule problems were at least
partially self-inflicted - after all, nobody forced Nick to do a double

> > and I really
> > like Janet, but I don't understand why she dates Nick for so long.

Inertia, I suspect.  It's very easy to stick with someone, even though
you're not totally happy about the relationship, because at least things
here are familiar.  The thought of splitting up then becomes very
frightening, because you don't know what will happen then.  (I've done this
myself, and seen other people do it.)  The fact that when the split finally
does happen, you rather wonder why it was so scary doesn't make the idea
beforehand any less scary.

> > 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
> > 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 thought it was great!  But then my family is also addicted to quoting (if
not always quite such literary material).  And I have read enough of the
literature referenced in the book to "get" most of the quotes, which makes
me feel smug. :-)

> 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 sympathised utterly with Janet, there.  A lot of people I know think I'm
at least mildly odd, if not a downright fruit-loop, because I rarely watch
television and get nervous if I don't have anything to read.  I would hate
to be in Janet's situation, sharing a room with someone who doesn't read and
doesn't understand the addiction to reading.

> 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?
Unfortunately, "Tam Lin" is the only book of hers that I've ever been able
to get my hands on - if anyone knows where in Ireland I can get others, I'd
be very grateful.

Until the sky falls on our heads...

Dorian E. Gray
israfel at eircom.net

"Some there be that shadows kiss
Such have but a shadow's bliss" -W. Shakespeare

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