Thursday, November 22, 2012

Reflections

I like the UK cover better.
Reflections: On the Magic of Writing, by Diana Wynne Jones

This collection of speeches, essays, and bits and bobs from Diana Wynne Jones is wonderful, and you simply must have it if you're a DWJ person.  It's arranged chronologically, so that the earliest piece (a reflection on the nature of childhood and imagination) is from 1981, and the last pieces are a final interview from a few weeks before her death in 2011 and posthumous thoughts from her sons.

Some of the essays and speeches have been easily available from the official Diana Wynne Jones website, so I was just happy to have them in a more easily readable format because I've already read them twice.  "Heroes" and "Inventing the Middle Ages" are both really interesting, for example.

The majority of the pieces, though, were not easy to get at all.  Many were new to me.  There are wonderful essays on narrative, literary fashions, childhood, and fantasy.  (I really appreciated her perspective on problem novels; when DWJ first started trying to get published, virtually every story had to be about a child with a Problem, and I remember those books very well.)  I was especially happy to see a long essay on the process of writing called "Some Truths About Writing."  That piece showed up on the Horn Book website soon after her death, and I thought it was great, but then it disappeared after a few months and I was very sorry I hadn't saved it.

I can't list everything I liked, that would be very boring, but I did especially like "Why Don't You Write Real Books?" and "The Halloween Worms" (which is a story about DWJ's well-known tendency to have her books come true at her).

It should be understood that since many of these pieces are speeches or essays that were given at various times, but were almost always about writing, there are some things that get repeated several times.  DWJ had a very strange childhood and certain things are mentioned fairly often.  My favorite parts are about how she and her sisters got yelled at by both Arthur Ransome and Beatrix Potter, who each disliked children (or at least that was the impression she got).

Good stuff.  Don't miss it!

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