I've had time to read lately. I'm not sure what has opened up but all of a sudden I'll find myself on the subway with a book, reading. Who knows where the time comes from? No doubt I am neglecting something large and crucial, and will figure out "Oh, you were supposed to be doing [insert name of crucial task here]! Oh, now you've missed the deadline and you will never be happy/your child will never go to college/you are now bankrupt." Still, it's been fun.
And it has gotten me thinking. I don't actually read all that much children's literature, just when the mood strikes me or the book falls into my hands or compels me in some other way. So I've been reading a lot of grown-up books. You know. Freedom. The Cookbook Collecter (more on that on an upcoming post). Waking Beauty. True Grit.
They've all, each in its own particular way, made me happy. But they've also pointed out a gap between the love I feel as a reader for books I read now, and the love I felt as a kid. Sometimes I will see one of my children standing stock-still in the middle of the stairway reading. They're so deep inside another world this one has entirely disappeared. Oh how I envy them that sense of transport!
I can love a book now, I really can. Some of my favorite books are those I've read only as an adult—Tolstoy and Patrick O'Brian come to mind. Jane Austen too. Oh, it goes on and on.
But I do miss magic.
Magic is rare in the world of adult literature. And don't start with the magical realism—it isn't the same at all. And the whole sentimental magic/vampires 'n' ladies/sexy witch sort of magic holds no allure for me. I mean magic magic, the kind of magic where the world and all that is possible within it is so much bigger and more thrilling than what you thought it was.
So that's why I'm going to tell you a bit about this:
First I must get out the full disclosure, such as it is: I got this book for free, as a review copy, from the author when I asked for it, figuring it was a novel for kids. Note: this is not a novel for kids, not the ones under 15 anyway. And I only heard about the novel when I found out the author was following me on twitter (poor man, who didn't know that with twitter I am essentially a spectator at the orgy), so there's that.
But I got it, and I read it, and I had a whole flock of different reactions.
There were moments, in the beginning of the book, when I thought it might just leap up and fly out of my hands—it felt like: Here! This is what I've been wanting to read. This is everything I've been missing.
And then there are moments when it doesn't feel like that. It's complicated; at the risk of sounding as prim and reductive as it possible to sound, it's sort of a boy-feeling book. There is lots of posturing (by the characters, not the author), lots of self-hatred and teen-aged angst with a testosterone flavor, lots of rage choked back into bitterness. There is a fair amount of swaggering.
There are, too, moments of soaring thrills, of streaming energy, of magic, in exactly the way I was missing it.
You should try it.