[DWJ] Best Books of 2006 (complete with silly categories, and much longer

Elizabeth Parks henx19 at gmail.com
Tue Jan 2 15:23:01 EST 2007

> Katrina wrote:

You know, it took me a while to realize what disturbed me about that quote -
> well, apart from the fact that I liked the books, but then I'm from a
> semi-orderly, fairly functional home, so what else can be expected? *g*
> It's the way she lumps together "chaotic" and "dysfunctional", and though
> it
> isn't said straight out, "orderly" and "functional".
> IMO, those are entirely different things. A family can be chaotic and
> dysfunctional, yes, but it can also be chaotic and functional, or orderly
> and dysfunctional. Ingmar Bergman's "Fanny and Alexander" comes to mind,
> where the chaotic Ekdahls are a lot more functional than the orderly
> Vergeruses. (Vergeri?)

Lizzie says:

Which helped me put my finger on what I  didn't really like about the books:
I didn't believe them.  They seemed to me to be pretending to be realistic
fiction when what they are is fantasy.  I felt like the Casson books are
about some sort of idealized version of chaos, in which it's okay to paint
on walls and eat porridge for dinner and have your sister stow away in
someone's car halfway to Italy--and this bothered me not so much because I
support some sort of notion of Order Above All, but because I didn't
_believe_ it.  It is chaos without a cost, really, a sort of idealized
individualistic order.

When I was younger (I guess about nine?) someone gave me a copy of Noel
Streatfeild's _The Magic Summer_, which I read over and over and over.  In
this, four children are sent away to a (somewhat batty) great aunt because
their mother has to take care of their terribly sick father, and though
there are many flaws to this book (I was always indignant on the behalf of
the older girl, who was expected to take care of everyone else, especially
the annoying younger girl), there was something beautifully appealing about
the idea of fending for yourself in a drafty old house, with an aunt who
barely feeds you but gives you poetry.  (There's also a lost film star,
which I guess is half the plot but always seemed rather minor to me).
McKay's books remind me of this book, but in Streatfeild's the disorder
isn't as _precious_.

My other qualm about them is that they reminded me of Chinese food: pleasant
while you're partaking, but not with you for much after that. . ..

(though browsing through amazon, this doesn't seem to be a problem for
anyone but me)


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