Monday, May 6, 2013

The Magic in the Library of the Mind

             Hello folks, Mark here. During my first three month stint as 'first up' on the blog, I have had several topics that surprised me a little in how they came about. As of Friday I did not have a clue what I might write about, but as many of you already know ideas and nuances have a way of percolating in the hind-brain until needed. A nudge here, an oblique reference there, and suddenly the idea blossoms like a fully realized poem. I have to tell you, such moments have ALWAYS been where I find the most joy in writing and in life: at times it is all about the surprise.

Several days ago I commented on a FB thread about The Great Gatsby. I don't normally get involved too deeply in things I read on FB. In the past, the few entries I made resulted in some flame-war type comments that put me off enough to prefer lurking and checking up on friends. But this time something struck me from an odd angle. The original poster, a writer for whom I have enormous respect, used the term magic in a criticism of the novel, as in it totally lacked any for her whatsoever. Her reasoning was sound, although I disagreed with the context, but what stuck with me was the term 'magic'. And that got me thinking about the magic of those first books, those big-person books where as readers we began to put together our personal definitions of the truth. And THAT got me thinking about Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind and the library of lost books where his main character goes to find the tome that sets his life on a twisted path of trial, revelation, mystery and malign. It is truly an awesome read. But that is the means not the end of this post.

I like to think we all have libraries of lost books; those volumes that gave us some of the magic--at whatever time in our lives--that set us on the way to becoming the writers and readers we are today. I have written previously on books from my past, but this time the context is a little different. One man's wine is another man's poison. Where some find magic in the Fitzgerald sentence, others find social pandering and misogyny. I get it. Not every revelation need be an affirmation. I have read most of my conscious life and have read a slew of good and not so good, and occasionally, really, really BAD books (usually for some ridiculous college course, but that is another post altogether...). While I do not treasure all of them, I have forgotten none of them. They make up the shelves of my library of lost books and their good and bad elements weave themselves in and out of my sensibilities constantly. Some I revisit like old friends, others lurk as shadows of lessons well-learned about mistakes and easily avoided.

Even as I type this my mind is traveling back along the shelves to those first efforts: Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web, The Wind in the Willows, The Bat-Poet, Freddie the Detective (a whole series about a talking pig and a slew of barnyard mysteries--ripping stuff to my 7-8 year old brain.)

The pic shown here is the actual cover of the book I read so many years ago. I recall loitering over the last few pages of that book--a practice I have continued since for those works that take me, hold me, wrap me up in story and immerse me in the magic of words.

So, friends, I would like to know what are your particular magic books and why? What do you have on the shelves of your personal collections? Note that I use are rather than were because, let's face it, everything is always current in the library of the mind.

Happy reading and remembering,


ps: a small plug, if I may. I have a Goodreads giveaway going on for King's Gambit. The novel is due out later this month. For those interested, expect another post from my cover-artist, Tom Vandenberg on the evolution of the artwork. Good stuff coming.



Heroines of Fantasy said...

Mark--I actually got teary-excited when you mentioned Zafon's Shadow of the Wind. The magic of that books wasn't just the writing and the magical realism, but the whole concept of that library of lost books readers and writers have in their hearts. It SPOKE to me in such a profound way, as did this post. Just thrilling.

I have so many books in my "library." First and foremost is Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kaye. It is the singlemost important book I have ever read, because not only is it an extraordinary story, but it taught me SO MUCH about writing and plotting and motive just at that moment I was receptive to it. I met the man once and I think I fumbled over the words, "I write what I do because of you." It might have come out as, "Erp eep blubba boo." But I think he knew what I meant. :)
My early years were full of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Pippi Longstocking, The Boxcar Children, A Family for Sarah Ann. Alice and Wart and Charlotte and Sammy the Sea Lion. As I got older it was Thomas Covenant and the Dragonlance books, Eddings and, of course, Tolkien. Egads, my libary is overwhelmed with books! But you're right--they are all dear, never forgotten.

One book I want to put out there is The Book of Lost Things. It's kind of like Zafon's concept, but instead of books, it's folklore. Cool stuff.

Heroines of Fantasy said...

Oh...that's me--Terri. I forgot I was signed on to the domain user whatever.