Hi, I am really hoping that my legendary lack of sense of time hasn’t cropped up again and I am doing this in y’know the right month. Shaun has kindly offered me the chance to guest blog here over the next few days.
My permanent home if you don’t know is Un:Bound which I am neglecting a little this week due to my involvement in the Special Olympics in my city, fortunately I have others to hold the fort for me there as I am attempting to help with here.
Anyway, my post for today:
I joined a local book club six months ago. I wanted to read outside my comfort zone and meet other people in the village who read. It’s worked in that respect. We have read The Clockwork Orange, The Forgotten Garden, Cloud Atlas, The Gargoyle , Coraline & The life of Pi. Coraline was one I pushed for. The other books were all standard book club fair and there was nothing I adored so I made them read this spooky childrens book. They didn’t get it. They couldn’t see why button’s for eyes, the characters weren’t deep enough, they’d have liked to see the other father developed more. Umm the other father was a construct, he was supposed to be paper thin, that’s the whole point. Buttons for eyes because it’s abnormal and scary, y’know, creepy like a gingerbread cottage.
The problem was I simply couldn’t understand why they didn’t get it. Do they not still enjoy fairy tales? Would they want Hansel and Gretel’s father to be a more complex character? Did they just accept that a wolf could get in, eat granny, don her clothes and then hold a conversation with Red? As children did these very lovely and intelligent women accept that it is possible to climb a tower using hair as a rope or to bring someone back with a kiss (well ok but even in my day fairy tales were a bit sanitised even if they weren’t full on disneyed)? Presumably they did. So why don’t they anymore?
My book group don’t really do fantasy, they don’t really get Coraline. My conclusion? They are too grown up and just can’t believe in unicorns anymore. I think that’s kind of sad. How must the world look if you never see dragons? So having now experienced this problem I started looking at it more widely. Obviously some people are just literary snobs and unredeemable, but what of the others, the grown ups whose inner child has given up? I really think that not being able to believe like a twelve year old hiding under the duvet with a torch, is what is keeping these people from enjoying genre fiction. I don’t know how to fix them, they probably don’t realise they are broken. They think comics are just for kids and LARP’ing is for the socially inept (seriously, they have no clue how hard it is to exist in their world 9-5 then fully take on a whole other set of social norms and acceptable behaviour when you escape for a few days).
So next time someone gets that expression on their face (the one that says ok you read at least 3 times more books in a month than I do, but it doesn’t count because you only read SFF, y’know the one) remember, it’s not their fault, there are no fairies at the bottom of their garden and we should be more tolerant and sympathetic. After all what could bring more pleasure than allowing yourself to believe in magic?