Friday, September 24, 2010

Ending the Reading Slump

Man, I've had a case of the sleepys all week. Yesterday, I went grocery shopping, came home, and fell asleep for nearly an hour. I just couldn't keep my eyes open. It has drastically cut into my productivity. I'm planning to get back into the writing groove today, if I can stay awake long enough.

I do seem to have broken out of the reading slump. One of the books I picked up at the library last week was Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, which I believe was recommended by a commenter here some time ago, and I loved it. I may have to buy a keeper copy because I suspect there will be re-reading. At least one re-read will be mandatory because it's the kind of conclusion where you find out what was going on all along, and you need to re-read after that revelation to see if you can spot how all that was working. I love that kind of plotting and wish I could find an occasion to use it (and then have the skill to pull it off).

I would attempt a plot blurb, but the thoughts don't seem to be forming in the fog that's taking the place of my brain, and it's a complicated plot to describe. Basically, when a young woman is turned into an old woman by an evil witch, her only hope for breaking the spell is to make a deal with a fire demon to figure out the secrets of the wizard who holds the demon in thrall to power his castle, which tends to move about the countryside. Not only does the castle itself move, but depending on which way you turn the doorknob, you may come out in any of several entirely different locations. And you'll see something different depending on which window you're looking through. And there's a lot more than that going on.

Anyway, it's a fun situation, and I really liked the characters. Oddly, this was shelved in my library's children's section -- not even teen, but children's -- and it didn't read to me like a children's book at all, nor really even YA. The main character is 18 or 19 (when she hasn't been made 90), but she doesn't act "teen" because in that culture she's functioning as an adult. It is "clean" and certainly teen or kid-safe, but it reads just like an adult fantasy novel. I don't know if it's because the author also writes a lot of middle-grade and YA books or if it's my library's sometimes odd shelving system, but adults shouldn't skip this just because it's apparently sometimes treated like a children's book. Also, I haven't seen the movie, but I've seen clips, and I have to say that the mental images generated by the text were absolutely nothing like those clips. Perhaps that's because it was a Japanese movie, and the book is very European. I understand the movie is excellent, but I suspect it would now annoy me because it would clash too strongly with my mental images.

That was one of the points I made on last weekend's books-into-TV panel, that people who are fans of the book are probably always going to have some problems with any adaptation because everyone's going to have their own mental images, and no matter how closely a filmmaker hews to the text, the result is going to be different from just about everyone's mental images. You can get the eye colors and hair colors all right and the description down to fine detail, but there's still a lot of leeway for readers to fill in the blanks with their imaginations, and that's going to be different for every person.

Now I want to clean the kitchen for tonight's great pizza adventure (I'm experimenting). This weekend, there's a Greek food festival and then hopefully a restful Sunday so that I can be moderately productive next week.

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