When I was a wee lass, I bought a copy of Good Omens. I loved it. I loved it so much, in fact, that I sought out the other works of the authors, Terry Prachett and Neil Gaiman. While the Discworld novels were just as I thought they would be (cunningly clever, although Monstrous Regiment is a much sharper satire than I realized at the time), American Gods blew my mind It was a plot so epic, a story so well executed, that I decided it would be the best fodder for whatever essay the SATs could throw at me. (This does not mean I used it. I ended up writing a rant about Christopher Paolini and a piece about The Great Gatsby on my two SATs. The rant scored higher, for God knows what reason.) When Anansi Boys came out, I scooped it up immediately. I reread Good Omens about once every year. There’s a joke in there about the French and fast food that never fails to crack me up. While I haven’t read Sandman and only recently read Neverwhere, the works of Neil Gaiman have been a crucial part of my literary development.
The Sunday Salon: Casting Call
Whenever I read a book, the mental images I develop of the characters can be anything from vague to pretty firm. For instance, since I had a very vague image of Fleur from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that consisted of mostly “French, gorgeous, and blonde”, the casting was perfect. But I had such a firm image of Viktor Krum that I was a little shocked by his casting. My Krum had floppy hair and a big nose- the film Krum looks a great deal tougher than I pictured him as a lass of nine.
Booking Through Thursday: Posterity
Do you think any current author is of the same caliber as Dickens, Austen, Bronte, or any of the classic authors? If so, who, and why do you think so? If not, why not? What books from this era might be read 100 years from now?
I think posterity will be quite different in a century from now. With the ease and accessibility of books and, yes, even eBooks, nearly everything published is going to survive the years. Fan culture, instead of English teachers and literary critics, will dictate what texts survive the most visibly. A book is no longer a last manuscript languishing in an antique shop–it’s widespread and, importantly, can be digitized. If the data is destroyed, the copies of the book remain, and vice versa. I’m sure there are plenty published contemporaries of Austen and Dickens who have faded into oblivion. I don’t think that’s going to happen for books published now and in the future.
I’m not quite sure if I can make an assessment concerning what will survive the best, but I’ll give it a shot.
I hope Neil Gaiman’s works will be well read, especially American Gods, Anansi Boys, and Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett. Since The Wizard of Oz is still such a cultural touchstone (China Glaze, a nail polish company, just rereleased a nail polish collection based on it), I think that Gregory Maguire’s Wicked will survive along with it, especially if the musical remains popular. As I’ve said, fan culture will dictate what lives the most visibly, and in that case, Harry Potter will be read often. As well it should–every kid needs a good, long fantasy series.
Booking Through Thursday: Weeding
We’re moving in a couple weeks (the first time since I was 9 years old), and I’ve been going through my library of 3000+ books, choosing the books that I could bear to part with and NOT have to pack to move. Which made me wonder…
When’s the last time you weeded out your library? Do you regularly keep it pared down to your reading essentials? Or does it blossom into something out of control the minute you turn your back, like a garden after a Spring rain?
Or do you simply not get rid of books? At all? (This would have described me for most of my life, by the way.)
And–when you DO weed out books from your collection (assuming that you do) …what do you do with them? Throw them away (gasp)? Donate them to a charity or used bookstore? SELL them to a used bookstore? Trade them on Paperback Book Swap or some other exchange program?
The thing is, I rarely purchase books. My entire personal library can fit easily onto one (admittedly tall) bookshelf. I always want to make sure that I’ll love a book before I buy it. I’ll buy novels by Jeffrey Eugenides and Neil Gaiman without a second thought, but if it’s something I’m not sure about, I rent it from the library or borrow it from a friend first. It has to earn its place on my shelf. That said, I’ve been buying more books lately. I have a bit more of a disposable income at the moment, but I’m also trying to support my favorite independent bookstore, Little Shop of Stories.
That isn’t to say that I haven’t tossed out some books. I bought Gregory Maguire’s A Lion Among Men because I wanted to learn more about the green baby girl introduced at the end of Son of a Witch. A Lion Among Men explored nothing of the kind, and while it furthered one plot line from Son of a Witch, it by means resolved it. I was most dissatisfied. When that happens, I use SwapTree, which is amazing. I’m fairly sure I got a Disney soundtrack in exchange for A Lion Among Men. Or, if it’s just not my cuppa and somebody I know will like it, I’ll toss it into my gift tub.
The reason for my reluctance to commit a book to my personal library is simple–my father does not throw away books. His side of the master bedroom in my childhood home is awash in books. The garage is full of shelves, each crammed to the point of bursting with books. The same goes for his office at home. Frankly, as my personal library still lives there, it cannot compete with the behemoth of my father’s library. There’s just no space.
I like having a small library. Now, when I get a place of my own and many, many bookshelves, I think I’ll prove to be my father’s daughter…
by Neil Gaiman