Jul. 23rd, 2003

I was thinking I should start writing in here a little more, and as usual the best way to start writing again seems to be to start reading again. What could be easier to write about than books?

I recently had the pleasure of rediscovering a small piece of my childhood fiction -- by which I mean, one of those books you read as a kid, and you don't really remember the title, or the whole story, but you absolutely remember just enough details to frustrate you with the awesomeness of the book you're not reading. Like 'that one... where there's this kid on a bus, and a purple trout on the cover, and it looks like it was illustrated by Lynda Barry? You know?'

In this case, the book was 'that one about the kids on vacation by the ocean... who end up turning into whales... and getting involved in some magical ritual...? You know?' As it turns out, that particular book is called Deep Wizardry, and it's written by Diane Duane. It's the second book in the 'So You Want To Be A Wizard?' series -- the first book of which I (re)read a year ago and disliked enough to not bother continuing with the series.

Because as it turns out, they're called childhood fictions not just because they were books for children, but because your memory of them is fictional. In the interim between when you read the book and when you find it again later, the story has changed. The editing machine of memory has erased the parts you didn't like, altered those you did, and added others based on those impressions you prized -- what really stays with you from a book might not even be in the book.

In this case, I remembered a story much heavier on mysticism and whalesong, and much lighter on the series' annoying conventions -- like the Wonderful World of Wizard Bureaucracy which (perhaps in the 80s) made the series seem that much more believable! And the kooky mentors, with their kooky talking bird, and the kooky uh... well, you know.

Still, the core of the book was close enough to what I remembered, even if the style of writing was completely different, and the magic was six times as technical and four times as boring. It was nice to find it again, since it gives me hope that I'll find some others I've been looking for (that one about the purple cover and the trout is an actual book... I swear to god!) But it was also a strange experience -- to recover a piece of my childhood only to realise it's shape didn't fit the space I had made for it. Affirming, as well as strange -- the space, after all, fit me better, archeological record bedamned. It's all fiction anyways.

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