Back to DWJ (was: Re: Elitism was Tam Lin)

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Thu Sep 14 12:43:39 EDT 2000


On Thu, 14 Sep 2000 09:13:23 -0400 (EDT), Kyra Jucovy wrote:

>> I find this interesting because as I read _Power of Three_ it seemed that
>> the others' reactions to Halla are reasonable.  I went back to the book for
>> this, though, and now I'm impressed all over again with how talented DWJ is.
>> (Keep in mind I'm not trying either to prove Kyra's point or refute it;
>> these are my usual fumblings in the dark.)
>
>I'm not going to "argue" or even discuss this with you, not just because
>A) You are Always Right and B) To some extent we will just be getting into
>completely subjective issues that are very boring to discuss
>("But... but.. that's just the way it _feels_ to me!"), but also because
>C) I don't have the book (grr...) ;-).

Poor Kyra!  I didn't have it for the longest time--and then they reprinted
it and I just couldn't bear the thought of buying that awful awful cover.

But, again, I was so tired last night, and I was afraid it might sound
critical of *you*, which I'm not.  What concerns me is not that everyone
agree with me, but that I understand the source of others' disgruntlement.

I mean, the whole thing about Halla being unjustly treated--in the first
place, I couldn't remember who she was exactly.  And then I was thinking
"hmm, why would someone have this reaction?"  And since I can't see anything
*objective*, of course it has to be subjective.  Which is, again, completely
reasonable.

Reading is this magnificent thing we have for discovery--discovery of life,
discovery of self.  I already mentioned how I have no idea why _Dark Lord_
doesn't appeal to me.  Trying to figure out the reason for it says
everything about who I am as a reader--not how the book fails (it doesn't)
or ways that it should be different (it shouldn't).  I figure if you are an
experienced, careful reader--as Kyra and, I assume, everyone on this list
is--every gut feeling you have in reading a book has meaning, even if it
only signals some way in which the book uniquely affects you.  

I've known people who Just Don't Get It when it comes to books.  They read
something, they dislike it, and they slam it.  Like--oh, the very first post
to this list way back when was about _Hexwood_ and how people on some
newsgroup were saying "awful, terrible, don't read this."  Without any
explanation of *why*.  Uncareful readers (notice that I didn't let my little
elitist self call them idiots...oops, there, I did it anyway) assume that
their personal likes and dislikes define whether a book is good or bad.
More careful readers will recognize that some part of a book (or all of it;
don't get me started on Sharon Green) doesn't work for them, but will not
make the error of therefore assuming the book is bad.
>> 
>> Moril is a different case.  He's an ideal example of an unreliable or naive
>> narrator: we see events through his eyes, but his perception is limited and
>> can't be taken as absolute truth.  Although Moril puts his own internal spin
>> on everything that happens, we still see the actual events, and the
>> disparity between what Moril believes and what the reader sees is a way of
>> characterizing Moril.  DWJ doesn't have to say "Moril still has a lot of
>> growing up to do," she shows it through his own perceptions.  You could turn
>> the story around, tell it from Brid's point of view, and it would be the
>> same.
>> 
Boy, I sounded preachy here, didn't I?  Bad Melissa!  No biscuit!

>Yes, this is quite true and I agree with you very much, but, somehow, I
>could never take that, neither in this book, nor in _Drowned Ammet_... I
>was disappointed by the Dalemark series until I got around to
>_Spellcoats_, which I think is wonderful.

_Spellcoats_ is still my favorite in the series, but I do like _Drowned
Ammet_ because it's the "secret" DWJ novel that I never knew existed.

>I don't think I had trouble
>understanding what type of story DWJ was trying to tell - both books _are_
>about someone who is quite flawed and at the same time very talented
>learning about some of his own flaws (I'd say "or her," but given _Crown_,
>I'm not sure if Hildy counts)

Probably not, since she never does seem to learn, eh?

> but I just couldn't enjoy either story very
>much because the flaws that were being solved came through as so
>glaring...

That makes total sense.  Almost nothing is as annoying as being hit over the
head with a brick (in the literary sense, of course).

> I know I'm going to garner some animosity by saying this, but,
>no, I really couldn't stand Mitt.  I'm sorry.  I think that both boys
>remind me a little too much of some people I know who are very difficult
>to be around, and that comes through into my reading of the book.  After
>all, I absolutely hate "perfect" characters far more than I do those who
>are flawed...

I have a question here.  Do you mean that Mitt and Moril are perfect, or is
it some other characteristic that's annoying in them?  Mitt frustrates me in
_Drowned Ammet_ because I did sort of like him, and I hate seeing characters
I like behaving like idiots.

And I hope I wasn't terribly offensive, Kyra.  You said a lot of things that
intrigued me--enough to make me go back and re-read the books!  Thank you so
much for that.

Melissa Proffitt
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