a talk on DWJ last night

Amy Harlib aharlib at earthlink.net
Wed Jun 25 08:31:03 EDT 2003

aharlib at earthlink.net
Its DWJ's turning expectations on their heads that makes her writing so much
fun and why she is one of my #1 favorite writers!
Amy in NYC

> 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.
> Jackie
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