a talk on DWJ last night

Jackie E Stallcup jstallcup at juno.com
Tue Jun 24 18:45:23 EDT 2003

If you received my intro post, you'll know that I'm teaching at Hollins
University this summer.  During the program, they have scheduled speakers
who come in and give an evening's talk on some topic related to
children's literature.  The talk scheduled last night was by someone
whose name I didn't recognize, and the listed topic was on children's
science fiction, which is tangentially related to stuff I'm working on. 
So, I went, but not very enthusiastically.  

So, imagine my surprise and delight when the speaker got up and said that
she was scrapping the listed talk and discussing a book she is writing on
DWJ instead! 

It also turned out to be someone that I knew from a past conference who
is a lively and engaging speaker, which made it all the better.  

Basically, she is working on way to rework categories of fantasy, so that
the fantasy is not grouped according to, say, landscape (urban fantasy,
etc.), but according to how fantasy enters the texts.  Some of her
categories were portal quest, intrusion, immersive, liminal, but I'm not
going to try to recreate her explanation of that, sorry.  

Anyway, she is arguing that DWJ is writing what she calls "critical
fiction" because she believes that Jones write critiques of fantasy.  She
also said that Jones uses and subverts the voices of fantasy.  She used
Eight Days of Luke as an example; David (have I remembered that
correctly?) returns home for the fantasy to start, instead of leaving as
is more usual).  It is the blood relatives who are bad, not the step
relative--in other words, she argues that Jones turns our expectations on
their heads and keeps readers off balance.  Don't ask me to explan
further, because my notes pretty much end there on that subject...

Well, boo.  I don't think that I've explained her talk very well.  Let me
just say that listening to her discussion made me understand the reaction
that I usually have to one of Jones's books on the first read.  I'm
generally puzzled and upset until I read it again, because she so often
turns my expectations on their heads, which is not a comfortable feeling
the first time, and rather exhilarating the second and subsequent times.

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