Monday, October 1, 2007

The Unbearable Blight of Newness

Being new to anything can be painful. I am new to blogging. This might not be pretty.

I am reading a collection of short stories by Philippa Pearce, Familiar and Haunting, which came out in 2002. Part regular stories, part spooky stories. I am still in the regular story part of the book.

I immediately felt at ease, safe and secure. That is because I am in the hands of a good writer. I might not like each story (though so far I do) but I know that authorial competance will carry the weight. I am not sure why I need this safety feature in the books I read. Perhaps because I don't have to squirm over poorly placed words, or anxiously compare my own work (favorably or not) to the book in question, or fear that boredom will drive me to discard it. At any rate, I am in a cool, comfortable spot right now, reading Philippa and not worrying about anyone else's writing, including my own. I think she died recently, but am not positive. I am comfortable with that, too, though, at least at the moment, because she left such a fine legacy. Unless she is still here, in which case I feel even better.

The copyright on some of these stories goes back to 1959, though newer dates take a bow as well. I am an expert on exactly nothing, but wonder if such quiet, glancing stories would find a market today. I am doubtful. They present enormously strong children, steeped in that wonderful British wash of adult-like expectation (if that makes any sense) but there are no pyrotechnics.

I'm enjoying them, though, so right now that is enough for me. I'll elbow any kid out of the way when it comes to a good book!

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