Homeward Bounders (was fire and hemlock people)

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Wed Aug 24 18:56:26 EDT 2005

Colin Fine wrote:

>Ven wrote:
>> I think that's spot on. For the most part in AG
>> the cruelty is incidental. The victimisation of
>> Howard's family then happens because the siblings
>> have the specific aim of finding out what it is
>> that is locking them into the town.
>But there's also something in the writing which makes AG feel more like
>a cartoon - even though the threat to the children when they're lured
>into Shine's den is real enough, it still feels a bit like comic book

As in Tom and Jerry?  There isn't a feeling that people will *really* be
hurt, somehow, I agree, even when Ginger turns up walking wounded.  The
Goon just isn't presented as truly menacing, that's probably a big part of
it.  Nobody truly menacing could have a crush on Fifi and moon around being
miserable when she prefers Archer; even when he loses his temper, he still
isn't going to hurt anyone for real.  Even before that, his deference to
Catriona marks him as not really a Villain-with-a-capital-V.

>I've not gone back and reread F&H in a long time - it's not one of my
>favourites, perhaps because it is too dark for me.

see below!

>> For a while after I got it CitA was a big
>> favourite of mine, read and reread but I also
>> don't care for it very much at the moment.
>After I last reread HMC (probably 3 or 4 years ago) I went on to reread
>CitA and I could not get beyond a couple of pages. I just didn't want to
>read any further.

Have you any idea why?  I've tried on and off to work out what it is about
that book that doesn't catch me -- if that makes sense -- and I can't ever
pin it down, so I'd welcome suggestions.

>> Whereas I have a very personal affinity with
>> Jamie's sense of exile. I also fully understand
>> that all he ever wants to do is to try to fit in
>> with where he is, right up to the end when he
>> realises that is what he never can do.

>Yes, absolutely. Of all the DWJ books that are my favourite DWJ book, HB
>is the one that is most often my favourite DWJ book. The combination of
>that exile with the depth and intricacy of the Hope and Anchor theme
>appeals to me very much.

A probably irrelevant note: one of the pubs nearest to DWJ's house is
called the Hope and Anchor (just opposite the bottom of Constitution Hill,
for those who know Bristol slightly as opposed to those who are Bristolian
and probably know the pub anyhow).  I don't know whether it still is, but
for many years and certainly at the time HB was written the pub sign was a
picture of a scruffy boy wielding a cricket bat rather too large for him in
front of a wicket about up to his waist -- or at least that was the
impression of it that one got as one drove past.

I mention this as being in some way fitting, given one of the scenes in HB.

I am boggling slightly about someone who finds F&H "too dark" having HB as
a favourite favourite-DWJ-book.  Of all of them, I would have said that HB
and TotG were the two darkest, and the ending of HB is not exactly upbeat,
whereas in TotG the awful childhood is over and the mother is redeemed so
nobody (except the dead) is left with nothing to look forward to in the way
that Jamie is.  Sacrifice for the common good is fine as a one-off (the
king doesn't have a chance to regret dying for the people: he's dead, and
can't wish he hadn't done it after that) but spread over centuries it's a
horribly bleak prospect.  Never to have anyone or anything or any place of
one's own?  wibble.


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