[DWJ] Newly discovered books

Susanna Victoria dragonflygreen11 at yahoo.com
Fri Aug 3 16:45:55 EDT 2007

Charles Bulter wrote:
>On 03/08/07, deborah.dwj at suberic.net <deborah.dwj at suberic.net> wrote:

>>DWJ writes far fewer Issue books. In fact, I'm trying to think of

>Interesting question. I think there are a few that could be so described,
but usually only by a) a kind of metaphorical shift, or b) focusing on one
aspect of a book and ignoring other equally prominent aspects. As an example
of a), *Witch Week* could be said to be "about" accepting people's diversity
or more specifically (within a certain frame of reading) about homophobia.
An example of b) would be to say that *Dogsbody* is "about" anti-Irish
racism. Or you could get a) and b) together, by saying that *Dark Lord* is
"about" the ecological effects of Western tourism on third-world countries.

>Yet I agree that these positions, while not completely untrue, are
overstatements that do little to convey what those three books are actually
like in the reading.

No, you're right, because for a book to be an "issue" book, the issue has to be the major driver of the action or expressed emotions in the story, and, I would guess, the author often decides on the issue first and the specific characters and situations meant to illustrate the issue later.  The main purpose of the book is to instruct, rather than to entertain, which accounts for the faint or not-so-faint whiff of didacticism that can often be found clinging to "issue" books.  

"Witch Week" and "Dogsbody" are obviously not about diversity and anti-Irishism (not that I think you were implying that they *are*, Charlie), any more than "The Time of the Ghost" is about child abuse.  Those are themes or interpretations that are there for the reading, certainly, and DWJ incorporates them skillfully.  But I would be willing to bet...well, a lot of money...that she did not sit down one day and say to herself, "I am concerned about intolerance for diversity, homosexuality in particular.  Therefore, I am going to write a book in which witchcraft is a metaphor for homosexuality, in order to edify and inform my loyal readers of the problem."  Hardly.


Let the heart complete the pattern.

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