Saturday, July 9, 2011

Spanning the spectrum

Even though I still have several work projects to deal with before we leave next week (I did finish the MG Fantasy revision... which, btw, met the approval of my agent, now I need to write a synopsis of the entire story arc), including putting together an intro for a shawl that will be in the next Prayer Shawl Companion book (Taunton, I don't know when it'll be out), getting the wedding shawl off the needles has freed up my evenings, so I've been reading. I would be hard pressed to find two books (or one book and one series) that are further apart on the literary spectrum than my recent choices.

Room is an amazing book. I knew the premise and one plot point, but otherwise, I had no idea where this story of a young woman who was kidnapped and held prisoner in a single room for seven years, was headed. The tale is narrated by her son, five-year-old Jack, who has never left Room (which is a sort of character). Jack has never been outside, and he has never seen another human being except for his mother, and brief glimpses of their captor. It's stunning, and mesmerizing, and intense. And amazing... which I already said... but yeah.

I went from that, to... Tarzan, and a bigger shift in tone and subject would be pretty hard to find. I read everything I could get my hands on as a kid, so I don't know how I missed these books, but I'm glad I did. I think I am enjoying them a more now (and in an entirely different way) than I would have back then. The stories are 100% nonsense, but they careen from crisis to crisis at a breakneck speed. If your only experience with Lord Greystoke is with movies and cartoons, you'll note that the original stories don't necessarily correspond to the commonly accepted lore (no: Me Tarzan, You Jane). But one thing that remains is that Tarzan is one invincible, irresistible, magnificent, ridiculous hunk of Man Meat. Edgar Rice Burroughs reminds us of his beauty, strength, agility, and goodness on every other page. All men (except the nasty Russian villain) bow to his superiority, and all women lust after him, and Tarzan, the big lunk, is completely oblivious to all of the admiration. This omnibus includes the eight original novels, and I am loving every word. Caveat: these books are a product of their times, so you'll have to accept the racism/sexism/classism, though there are quite a few instances where conventional thinking is circumvented (Tarzan himself does not think any race superior to any other, in fact, he disdains all of them, and you won't find a pluckier young woman than Jane Porter).

I am reading (and listening) to these on my Kindle, as I anxiously await the release of this book, next week... and in another shift in tone and subject, I intend for it to be my Beach Read (that is, if I have time for reading, what with all 5 Grands, 2 sons and SO's, 3 sisters, good friends, and Father all in one amazingly gorgeous place... oh yeah, and that wedding I've been yammering about for months).


CrazyAnn said...

Just finished reading "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" at your recommendation. What a wonderful read. Can't wait to see a sequel to that one. Room sounds great also and will add that one to the list of reads this summer

CrazyAnn said...

Just finished reading Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. What a wonderful read and I can not wait for the sequel (hoping old Ransom Riggs is up to that right away). Room will also go on my summer reading list.