The Prydain Project

Thirty years after first devouring Lloyd Alexander's Prydain books, I'm rereading them to see if the magic is still there. If you've arrived at this blog because you loved Prydain as a kid, I hope you’ll enjoy the chance to revisit it along with me. To read the recaps in order, start here: "The Book of Three," Chapter 1

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Please lend this book!

For many years I had a philosophy of never lending books to friends. If you wanted to borrow a book, and it was one I could bear to part with, I’d give you the book outright, but I’d never expect to see it again. This somewhat jaded philosophy was born after one too many friends failed to return one of my prize tomes… or returned it dog-eared and spine-creased, almost worse than not getting it back at all!

As Polonius said, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be / For loan oft loses both itself and friend.”

Or, as I put it in a poem I wrote a few years ago, distraught over not getting “Watership Down” back when its borrower, a guy I was dating, unexpectedly dropped me:

If you should lend

A book to a friend

And then if that friendship

Should happen to end

You might lose your book

As well as your friend

So do not lend

Your books to your friends.

Fortunately, with the advent of e-books, we no longer have to worry about people borrowing books, never to return them. To celebrate that fact, I’ve made my short story, “Nothing to Fear Except Fear Itself (and Spiders),” published through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, fully lendable so that anyone who chooses to can lend it.

It’s also 100 percent impossible to dog-ear. What a wonderful world we live in!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

World's Worst-read English Major?

I am what some may consider the world’s worst-read English major.

I can’t count the number of conversations I’ve had in which someone has said to me “What? You’ve never read [insert name of Great Book here]?”

For instance, I have never read Dante’s Inferno, Milton’s Paradise Lost, or anything by D.H. Lawrence. I once tried to read James Joyce’s Ulysses, but regretted the attempt almost immediately.

I have a few excuses, mostly poor ones. One is that I didn’t major in English Literature. I did my undergrad in English Education, earning a B.S. degree (that’s Bachelor of Science, not the other kind of B.S.) from the FSU College of Education rather than a B.A. from the College of Arts and Sciences. Then I earned my masters degree in English with a specialization in rhetoric and composition, meaning that I read a lot of literary theory and criticism but not a lot of literature. So I never had to take as many literature courses as you might expect your typical English major to have under her belt.

But the main reason I haven’t read a lot of Great Books is that I am a voracious reader of fun books, especially YA novels. I spent nearly all my spare time in high school and college reading my way through the catalogs of S.E. Hinton, Paul Zindel, Christopher Pike, and Lloyd Alexander, to name a few. This was before Harry Potter made it cool to read books aimed at a younger audience, before YA crossover was really a “thing.” So I spent a lot of time skulking around the YA section at the library hoping no one would ask me what I was looking for.

That’s partly why I wanted to become a YA novelist, so I’d have an excuse to read YA openly – after all, I have to stay current in my genre! But I still feel a little weird in the YA section of the library, since no one there knows that I’m there in a purely (well, partially) professional capacity. Thank God for the Kindle, because now I can read as much YA as I want to and no one is the wiser (except for Amazon).

But I still feel bad that I haven’t read very many Great Books, and I’d like to intersperse more of them into my reading list, while still leaving room for fun books and keeping current in the YA genre. So a recurring topic of this blog will be updates on my efforts to do just that.

Feel free to suggest any books you think I should try, and I’ll add them to the list! That is, unless your suggestion is Ulysses. I’m not going there again.

Words, words, words…

One of the great lines in “Hamlet” is Hamlet’s response to Polonius’ question “What do you read, my lord?”

I have heard this line read variously with haunted melancholy or with goofy broad humor, depending on who is doing the interpreting. How you read it on the page depends on what you bring to the text.

I love words – reading them, writing them – and how they can feel different depending on the day or your mood when you encounter them. Starting this blog is my attempt to start producing and consuming more words on a regular basis. My posts will be centered around what I’m reading and writing, now and in the future. Like Hamlet, they may be funny sometimes and sad sometimes, but hopefully they’ll be entertaining and ultimately at least a little uplifting.

For now, I’ll leave you with Kenneth Branagh’s extremely scenery-chewing interpretation of the line reading. Seriously, was he just playing himself as Gilderoy Lockhart or what?