Croggling/data/Engdahl/Aiken/McKillip/identification

shelly at the-seasiders.co.uk shelly at the-seasiders.co.uk
Sat Sep 8 19:24:58 EDT 2001


Hi everyone.

As I've still got no internet access at work and probably won't have for the next few weeks, I only have weekend email access. I've just been working through about 250 emails and I'm going to reply to several threads at once - sorry. And I've probably got confused about who said what - again, sorry if so. I'll have to switch to the digest I think, especially as I have web-based email so I've been on for three hours reading it ... ouch.

First of all, I have to enquire what that wonderful word "croggling" means - JOdel wrote "I find them a bit croggling, mysself, but I honestly cannot say that they are necessarily BAD... " Looked the word up on altavista and found a few uses since 1960s - mainly by sci-fic communities - seems to mean something like unbelievable, shocking ... ?

2. deborah wrote - 
>I'm wondering if anyone wants to help me on a data gathering 
>project. I'm trying to put all the data I have about any DWJ 
>books into a big XML database

Could you tell us a bit more about what sort of data you are planning to collect? Basic bibliographic stuff, or more than that?

3. Philip mentioned Sylvia Engdahl's "Heritage of the Star" series. I didn't know this was a trilogy - I've only read the first one, wch I found interesting & memorable (gd example of protagonist learning/changing) - could someone tell me the titles of the other two books? Tried to find them on Amazon/ABE but wasn't clear whether the ones listed were the same series or not. 

4. Joan Aiken. I particularly liked Melissa's comment about the scales being heavily weighted towards Bad Luck. I don't think anyone's mentioned Aiken's short stories - A Harp of Fishbones etc - some of these are very good I think. I like the way the characters appear to be living in the 'normal' world and then something magical happens and they accept it. Has anyone come across any Aiken sites? I found an extract from an interview (warning: it has serious spoilers for Black Hearts in Battersea and Night Birds on Nantucket) at http://www.locusmag.com/1998/Issues/05/Aiken.html wch is quite interesting, but very little else. And has anyone read her book on how to write for children? It's got very mixed reviews on Amazon. I've read a couple of her Austen sequels - Mansfield Park is quite fun, as long as you don't expect anything Austenlike (Austenish? Austenesque? Austenly?). I've also read Jane Fairfax, but I had completely forgotten that I had until a friend to whom I'd lent it reminded me that we had discussed the plot in some detail - so I can't say it was a success in the medium-term for me. It does have a stammerer in it, though, wch I always find interesting. I think the best thing about her (& probably anyone's) sequels is they make you think again about the originals - to analyse why you think, "That's wrong - they wouldn't do that," etc.

5. Bought a McKillip book today from the British Heart Foundation (yay for charity shops!), after the recommendations on the list. It's The Sorceress and the Cygnet - have to say it doesn't look like something I'd like, from a quick flip through (I notice one character speaks through gritted teeth [I've tried this several times, but it just doesn't work for me] and then further down the page "speaks tightly" - is he drunk, or just mean?), but I shall try it, & let you know if I'm converted. If anyone immediately thinks "No! Don't start with that one, it's not typical!" then let me know.

6. Identifying with characters in DWJ - I've been surprised that people tend to identify with the main characters in the books. I find I always identify with the characters who _don't_ get things right, in terms of particular books' ethoses (what on earth is the plural of ethos? - "since I've been with you I find myself needing to know the plural of Armageddon" - Riley Finn [and I was getting back on DWJ-track so well]). So in Swallows and Amazons I know I'd be Susan, not really enjoying the sailing, and worrying about mundane things - and in the Narnia books I'd be Susan too. Well, anyone would, wouldn't they? Given a choice between believing your brothers' and sister's weird stories about your childhood games, and the much more possible-seeming allure of worldly success and lipstick? Most protagonists in children's books just don't make enough mistakes for me to identify with them - that's why I read them, I think, to have a break from being me. There's a poem by Larkin about coming to identify with the failures in books - I think it's called "A Study of Reading Habits", and it ends something like "Don't read much now ... the chap who's yellow and keeps the store/Seem[s] far too familiar". I'm impressed by those of you who read about Sophie (for instance) and think "yes, that's exactly what I'd do", and I sort of feel that if I felt that I wouldn't get as much out of the books, because I would be reading about my own character rather than someone different and therefore more interesting.

Anyway. Hope all that makes sense - post-midnight ramblings. Georgia.

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