Friday 2 January 2009
My brain is still on sabbatical
My friend Erin, whom you very recently met on The Reading Lamp, gave me her copy of Cornelia Funke's Inkheart when I met her for dinner in Kingston back in December.
As anyone who knows me well enough to shower me with presents knows, it usually takes me much longer than three weeks to read a gifted book. I'm years behind with my brother Roger's gifties. (Sorry, Roger.) But in the post-defense, extreme burn-out phase I'm currently stuck in, children's lit is exactly what I need. And still all I'm capable of reading, to be honest.
For example, this morning I tried to start reading Yasunari Kawabata's The Sound of the Mountain because it's been a long time since I've read any Japanese lit and because the clock is ticking on the Japanese Literature Challenge I'm participating in; but I had to give up after 20 pages or so because my eyes and brain simply refused to cooperate. I have no idea if the book was good or bad; I am certain, however, that I'm currently suffering from the mental equivalent of lazy eye. It's hard to focus on things that aren't either exciting or very bright and shiny.
Speaking of exciting, bright, and shiny, Inkheart is a rollicking good read, basing as it does an entire 500-page novel on the intrigues and nail-bitings which occur as the result of literally bringing characters to life by reading their stories out loud. I love it when authors literalize metaphors.
(But it's also good that people can't really read characters out of books and into the flesh, not for the villains (as in Inkheart) but because of the murders that would be committed: Jane Austen's gossipy harridans Emma Woodhouse and Mrs. Bennet would both have to die immediately, as would that whiny wanker in Of Human Bondage whose name I can't recall now.)
Inkheart is also an amazing nerd fest dedicated to the arts of book restoration. I love that Funke has the chutzpah to make that central to a YA story - it bespeaks both a confidence and a faith in young readers that is too often sadly lacking. That's it: I'm going have to place Inkheart in that sad category of "THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN WRITTEN WHEN I WAS STILL A KIDLET, DAMMIT!"