[DWJ] DWJ article

Joe oddenda at gmail.com
Wed Dec 19 20:14:38 EST 2007

On 17 Dec 2007, at 23:42, Minnow wrote:
> HMC is complex in some ways, but I always found it fairly 
> straight-forward,
> because I never saw Howl as anything but on-the-right-side, as it were.
> Doesn't it lay cards on the table quite a lot, all the way through?

I suppose so, but I think it's beautifully layered all the way through, 
especially at those points where Ingary rubs up against our world. I 
remember reading it for the first time during my first major DWJ binge 
ten years ago. It _starts_ like a straightforward narrative in a 
self-contained fantasy world, and that's what I was expecting, so when 
I came to the section that takes place in Wales, it felt as though my 
brain had been turned through 90 degrees. I'd never read anything like 
it. Howl _Welsh_ all along! And Wales in the 80s drawn so tenderly and 
so familiar to me, but looking so very foreign viewed from Ingary. And 
here's this Donne poem, on the one hand a dull homework assignment, and 
on the other a savage curse, threaded deftly through the narrative. I'm 
not sure I'm capturing quite what I mean, but I think there's a 
sophistication there that's masked by DWJ's lightness of touch, and the 
jokes and pyrotechnics.

> When I read BM I always remember that it is written 'by' a fairly young
> person, and may have things going on which Mig hasn't quite 
> understood; and
> also the whole women's magic/men's magic business, and that it's a 
> mistake
> when taken to extremes, is complicated in itself.
> *The Homeward Bounders* is high on my list of 'maybe her nastiest book'
> candidates, because it's so *bleak* for Jamie to be a displaced person
> forever, even if he does sort-of volunteer.

I know what you mean. But isn't that more melancholy? I was thinking of 
the hot, close nastiness of Aunt Maria and her extraordinary 
bitchiness, and the bleak lives of those poor children, and being 
buried alive, and losing faith in your own mother... it's all so 
claustrophobic. Jamie's story has that devastating ending, but before 
then we have the travelogue around the worlds, and those 
wonderfully-drawn friendships, and there's something exuberant about 
the whole thing. In Black Maria we have this horrible spider at the 
centre, who poisons everything and whom no-one can do anything about. 
Even when she gets her comeuppance she's off the hook, IIRC. (Same 
thing happens to Chesney, come to think of it.) I really should read it 
again, I suppose; but I'm reluctant (I still haven't sought it out 2 
days after my first mail), mostly because I don't want to spend any 
time in the same room as Aunt Maria. She's not the most disgusting DWJ 
character by a long chalk (that would be Reigner One, for me), but she 
really has to be the most oppressive.

However, my sister-in-law called round this morning with some rather 
delicious-looking BOUGHT CAKE, so perhaps I should celebrate by curling 
up with it and BM and a cup of tea, and see if she redeems herself on a 


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