Origami Girl

Sunday, 8 January 2012

In which I talk about books and comfort

I have been known by most people to have a remarkable obsession with all things Neil Gaiman. There was a time, when I was first reading The Sandman, that I quoted him on everything. Every moral dilemma could be related to some situation in The Sandman comics. I went through a similar stage when I found relevance in every conundrum in life in Battlestar Gallactica, but with Neil Gaiman’s blog as well as his books to provide me with material I have been quoting and collecting his works for years.
Yet I have made a big decision this week. I think deep down Neil Gaiman is no longer my favourite author. I have not found a new greater replacement. I have simply decided that the author I loved most in my childhood, who I have recently been re-reading provides me with even greater satisfaction.* I am talking about Diana Wynne Jones.
Reading her books about ‘The Worlds of Chrestromanci’ are like coming home. For my birthday my sister bought me two of hers I had never read, set in that same world. I felt so instantly comfortable and familiar with them, whilst at the same time enjoying the thrill of having them for the first time. In an Oxfam bookshop this week I found ‘The lives of Christopher Chant’ –one of hers I had not read for about ten years. I read it on my commute to work and then on the way back, rushing back after I got off the train so I could get on with it.
I made the outrageous claim at work the other day that I believe there is far greater originality in children’s writing than there is in adult’s. You are welcome to disagree (as everyone generally did), but I still find that teen writing is refreshing and interesting where adult writing, particularly of the contemporary general fiction sort, is fixated on themes of guilt and shame and written with far too much self-awareness.
Dianna Wynne Jones writes wonderful fantasy that is full of plot twists that never feel like they are there just for the sake of it. It has fascinating characters and never feels like it is straining to achieve something. It all just flows. Sadly she died earlier this year. Along with Dick King Smith, Brian Jaques and Anne McCaffery who were somehow passed over in favour of Steve Jobs and Amy Winehouse. This bewildered me as Dick King Smith at least must have entertained a greater percentage of us in our childhood than Amy Winehouse did in her lifetime. I think the most authors get is an obituary in the Times –and a life-long love from people like me who never tire of re-reading them.
*Those of you who are used to the obsession –don’t expect me to stop mentioning Neil Gaiman!

To combine the two together: here is Neil Gaiman's blog about Dianna's death

Hope you all had a good Christmas!

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