[DWJ] Sayers and Meg Cabot v. DWJ

Jackie E Stallcup jstallcup at juno.com
Fri Feb 1 18:42:42 EST 2008

I was also just rereading all of the Harriet/Sayers mysteries.  Very

I looked up the passage that Minnow was puzzled about and find that in my
copy, the "not" is not there.  My edition is a Harper and Row Perennial
from 1986.

And to also be a little more on topic...

I also have been listening to Avalon High by Meg Cabot.  Thoroughly
enjoyable--a re-telling of the King Arthur story set in a modern high
school. I think the funniest bit is the girl named Elaine (after the Lady
of Shallot) who loves to float on a raft in her pool.  All she does at
first is float and float. I had a good laugh at that!

But I was really struck by how uncomplicated the book is.  It's fun, but
there's no depth or complexity in how Cabot is using the tales, no
complexity as to how the tale is twisted into modern times, no complexity
as to the language, no sense of deeper ideas about what it means to be
human and to relate to others.  It certainly makes me appreciate Fire and
Hemlock all the more!    It strikes me that one of the problems is that
it is told in the first person by Elaine, and while she is spunky and
scrappy and a lot of fun, she also uses a lot of Valley speak.  It's the
classic reason given for why first person narration is not a good idea in
a children's book:  believable language from a teenager (or someone
younger) is not going to be complex.  Of course, on the other hand I want
to argue against this idea; believable language from *anyone* is not
going to be very complex or coherent. But I also think that there are
many writers--for both children and adults--who can create first person
narration that is complex and also believable (or at least does not stand
out as unbelievable or "who talks like that??").  And, as enjoyable as
the book is, Cabot hasn't managed this with Avalon High.  

hmmm... now I'm wondering... where and how does DWJ use first person?  At
the moment, my feet are tucked too comfortably under me to get up and

I'm thinking there's a paper topic here somewhere...


On Fri, 1 Feb 2008 21:54:47 +0000 minnow at belfry.org.uk writes:
> In <200802012224.46544.irina at valdyas.org>, Irina Rempt wrote:
> >On Friday 01 February 2008, Jackie E Stallcup wrote:
> >> Is the list really quiet right now, or have I been 
> unceremoniously
> >> dumped?
> >
> >Oh, bless you for asking, I thought I was still disabled because 
> our mail 
> >server was down for a week! But yes, no messages here for most of 
> 2008.
> This week I'm blaming people who drag cables off the sea-bed and 
> break 
> them. :-)
> >I'm rereading _Gaudy Night_ instead of writing (and have _The Lives 
> of 
> >Christopher Chant_ next on the reread pile), because I'm royally 
> stuck.
> You too?  That's synchronicity or something.  I have just reached 
> Harriet's first personal encounter with the Second Year.  My old 
> hardback copy of *Gaudy Night* has gone walkabout, which means that 
> I am 
> reading somebody else's paperback, and every so often I go 'gulp -- 
> I 
> don't remember that?' about it.  One sentence in particular makes me 
> long for a cross-reference:
>    Because, although nine-tenths of the mud might not be thrown 
>    at random, the remaining tenth might quite easily be, as it 
>    usually was, dredged from the bottom of the well of truth, 
>    and would stick.
> (just after the letter from Miss Martin in Chapter 4)
> Surely that can't be right?  It makes sense without the 'not', but 
> with 
> it, it seems to say 'nine-tenths might be not-random, the tenth 
> tenth 
> might easily be not-random'.
> Is your copy the same as the NEL paperback in that place?  This one 
> maddeningly doesn't give a proper date, just 'first NEL edition 
> 1970', 
> and since it cost UKP5.99 I simply don't believe it is a 1970 copy 
> of 
> the book.
> Minnow
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