[DWJ] Ogre and back story

Joe oddenda at gmail.com
Sun Jan 22 18:54:49 EST 2012

A very interesting essay; sad too. I've often had similar thoughts when  
comparing my own childhood with that of my kids - and I'm a good bit  
younger than Michael Chabon. I wonder if this tendency in society has  
contributed to the past decade's boom in fantasy and historical fiction  
for kids - restoring to protagonists the agency and responsibility  
that's absent from their own lives.

Mind you, there's not much in the way of unmediated time for the kids  
in The Ogre Downstairs, who seem to be under the controlling eye of the  
Ogre most of the time (OTOH of course Gwinny starts the whole narrative  
rolling by being given the responsibility to travel to the library on  
her own and getting lost. What age is she, nine or so?)

For a glimpse into a very different past, can I recommend this amazing  
radio documentary to anyone who has 40 minutes to spare?


It's about two Dublin boys, aged 10 and 13, who in 1985 went out on the  
street to play before their dinner, and wound up stowing away on a  
series of forms of public transport until they finally arrived... well,  
I won't  spoil it for you if you want to listen to it (though the  
spoiler is right there on the blurb of the webpage if you want to avoid  
it there too).


On 22 Jan 2012, at 23:04, Judith Ridge wrote:

> On 23 January 2012 09:50, <jodel at aol.com> wrote:
>> Magical toy shops are a trope that used to show up rather often, and  
>> still
>> does from time to time. Quite often the shop shows up to kick off the
>> story, and then no one can find it again, or not until the shouting is
>> over. It's a fairly easy way to pitch the reader into the main story
>> without having to spend a third of the book on buildup.
>> In fact, if one stops to think about it, rather a lot of traditional
>> stories would be next to incredible today if people actually raised  
>> their
>> kids the way the prevailing attitudes of the times seem to believe  
>> kids
>> ought to be raised. Kids simply aren't left unsupervised enough to be  
>> able
>> to find the kind of gateways that traditionally led to the sort of
>> adventures that kids in stories got up to. Regardless of whether the
>> stories were fantasy, or so-called "real life".
> Michael Chabon has written a marvellous essay on this very topic. It's
> called The Wilderness of Childhood, and you can read it online, or  
> it's in
> a collection of essays called Manhood for Amateurs.
> Here's a link to the essay: I'm sorry, but for some reason it was not
> possible to make it a tiny url. It's found easily enough on a web  
> search if
> the link below is broken by the time it gets to you!
> http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2009/jul/16/manhood-for- 
> amateurs-the-wilderness-of-childhood/?pagination=false
> Cheers,
> Judith

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