Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Library visit and visiting dignitary

Had the very great pleasure of meeting up with Judith from Misrule on Sunday afternoon. It was terrific to have the chance to have a good yarn about kid's books and the diverse associated creative and literary fields that kid's books generate. And she knows a lot about Canberra as well. Since I am in that stage of affection parallel with first love I adore talking about Canberra with folk. I am so glad she got in touch.

I also had a most satisfactory haul at the library on Sunday. I found a book of short stories by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson, Elementals: Water. Fans of both these writers will know the assured and fascinating writing that these two can turn out, and I think both are in top form. My favourite ... actually I can't pick a favourite. I like them all, but especially the first two: Mermaid's Song by Dickinson and The Sea King's Son by McKinley. They are both writers who can capture confusion and melancholy while still keeping the story galloping along at a cracking pace.

One of the others was The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner, who wrote I Coriander a few years back. I am not entirely convinced by the way the magic is integrated with the history in either book, but they are very inventive and also entertaining. The devil in it didn't remind me at all of The Master and Margarita, but he would have liked to I think.

Best of all, perhaps, was finding House of Many Ways, sequel to Howl's Moving Castle and Castle in the Air. I think Jones has developed a tendency to want to explain things quite thoroughly in her later works - perhaps this is a Good Thing, since I am still quite (or indeed entirely) at a loss to know what happened in the end of Fire and Hemlock. And I am still rather worried about Tanaqui and whether or not she ever manages to catch up with the rest of her family. House of Many Ways might not be quite as brilliant and funny and startling as some of Jones's other books, but it's certainly worth a a read. And it was certainly worth the feeling of pleasure when I found it on the shelf at the library. I love the library! It's in Canberra!!!! It does make me uneasy when Jones ties up loose ends, though. It's just not natural.

The husband, noble provider of many books and other bits of cultural material, brought home a bunch of reading copies from his work. One was The adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E Pearson. There's romance, trauma, struggle for independence and bio-engineering. Bonza.

And now that I'm nearly finished with that lot I shall gird my loins for a bit more Gaskell, I reckon. Cranford for a bit of fun. Still plenty of death, but maybe not so much murder and squalor for a change.


Taphophile said...

Your post made this Canberra librarian's post sing!

julie said...

Dear Penthe,

Oh, this is exactly what the internet is for: feeling that one is not entirely alone in DWJ devotion. I didn't know that there was another sequel: I have added it to my (act library) request list, thanks.

Also, about the inexplicable nature of books. I recently reread The Owl Service and was quite shocked about how indirect and understated it was. Amazing.

(Also, the whole young girl growing up/ adult man romance in Fire and Hemlock was a little peculiar, wasn't it? I think she might have this theme in something else, too, maybe Hexwood?)


Penthe said...

Judith from Misrule tells me there is a DWJ list - I didn't know.

And the only way I can reconcile the young girl/adult man thing is because of the whole time going wird thing in Fire and Hemlock. I never remember the details of Hexwood, even though I've read it a few times. I don't know why.

Yes, Alan Garner (once he got past the Moon of Gomrath) was astounding.