Thoughts on a Thursday: Stuck With One Foot in the Past and One Foot in the Present

I have been mulling over what happen last year. I read less than I ever have in whole life. It was a difficult year on many fronts. Friends had major health issues. Family was overwhelming busy. Husband changed jobs after 17 years. I had some major healthy living changes which did not come easily. Kids were sick and injured a ton. I am not listing these for sympathy but to talk about why in a year that should have been filled with the need/desire to escape, did I only read 32 books? Books have been for years my escape. The go-to when everything else got hard. But this year I could not/did not read. Why?

Well in thinking it over, I have decided it has come down to two things.

These two electronic devices have taken over.

 cellphone  tablet

 

These are my go to now for escape. I honestly thought that having a tablet (I had a Nook until it died mid-year) would allow me to read more and in more places. What I have found out is that it also allows me to do a lot of things that are not reading. With both of these at arms reach 24/7 I found it easier to text, IM, Facebook, play games and do all kinds of things that are equally escapist but also require even less brain power. In other words, when everything else got too hard I chose brain-numbingly easy as my escape.

This resulted in a feedback cycle. The more digital I got the easier it was to do. The more digital I got the harder it was to focus and read. I wondered if this was just me or if there is research other there to support what I was thinking. (Yes I am a social scientist to my core.) It turns out that there is. It is not just me, but a whole generation of people who are going to find it difficult to focus. (You can find a collection of articles from the New York Times here.)

I am trying to not beat myself up over it. But I do want to return to my first and best love. So this year I am leaving the tablet home more and carrying old school books. I am leaving my phone in another room when I read in hopes that my natural lazy tendencies will mean I will only go retrieve it if it makes noise. I have turned all notifications off except text and actual calls (school aged kids means these are necessary). And in case you are interested the younger people in my house now have screen time limits as well. This is not go over well with the teen and tween. But here is to hoping for some balance for us all.

Cheers to a new year and new habits.


photo credit cellphone: Insert Magazine via photopin cc
photo credit tablet: jgoge via photopin cc

Thought’s on a Thursday: A Conversation With Lev Grossman

Thoughts on a ThursdayToday I am going to step aside and go back to mourning the end of The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman and present a conversation with Lev Grossman. So today is Lev Grossman’s Thoughts on a Thursday. [1]

Remember Grossman’s The Magician’s Land dropped August 5.

The Magician’s Land: A Novel (Magicians Trilogy)

Q:  People considered The Magicians to be Harry Potter for grown-ups and an homage to writers like C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling. But in THE MAGICIAN’S LAND, Quentin is nearly thirty years-old. Can we expect any new allusions to those books? How has the series grown up over the years?

 A:  On some level all the Magicians books are written as a conversation with Lewis and Rowling. It’s a complicated conversation – sometimes it’s affectionate, occasionally it’s rather heated – and it continues in The Magician’s Land. I thought Rowling let Harry off a little easy by never showing him to us at 30. We never really saw him having to deal with his traumatic past – his abusive childhood, his experience of violence and death, his massive world-saving celebrity as a teenager – and struggling to figure out what the rest of his life is about. Those are things Quentin has to do in The Magician’s Land. When you’re a magician, and there’s no ultimate evil to defeat, when you’re not a kid anymore, what is magic for?

As for Lewis, Narnia fans will pick up echoes of The Magician’s Nephew and The Last Battle, the stories of Narnia’s creation and of its destruction. Lewis made a bit of fetish of childhood and innocence: Narnia was a place for children, and when you grow up and get interested in adult things, you lose that special magic. You see that in Peter Pan too – it’s one of the dominant tropes of 20th century fantasy. In The Magician’s Land I wanted to think not just about what you lose when you grow up, but what you might gain. You lose the magic of innocence and wonder, but do you gain a richer, more complex kind of magic?

 Q: You come from a family of serious academics. What was their reaction when you chose to write genre fiction rather than something more “literary”?

 A: It sounds funny to say it, but writing The Magicians was a serious act of rebellion for me. Coming from the family I do, it was an act of calculated treason. I had to nerve myself up to do it. But I had to – it was the only way I could say what I wanted to say.  I couldn’t do anything else.

I think it’s fair to say that reactions were mixed. My mom was cautiously enthusiastic, and my brother and sister have been hugely helpful with the books. But I don’t think my father ever read any of The Magicians books.

 Q: The Magicians books have stirred up a lot of controversy among readers.  They attack or invert the most sacred conventions of fantasy, and as a result, have divided the fantasy world.  Can you speak a bit about this diverse reader response?

 A:  No question, the Magicians books are polarizing. They’re supposed to be. The same way Neuromancer did with science fiction, and Watchmen did with superhero comics, the Magicians books ask hard questions about fantasy. What kinds of people would really do magic, if it were really, and what would the practice of magic do to them? What would really go on in a school for magic, with a bunch of teenagers in a fairy castle being given supernatural powers? What would happen if you put in all the depression and the violence and the blowjobs and the drinking that Rowling leaves out? What would happen to those kids after they graduated? What would happen if you sent these kids through the looking glass, into a magical land that was in the grip of a civil war?

These aren’t the kinds of questions everybody wants asked, but that’s how genres evolve. Watchmen was a brutal interrogation of the superhero genre – and it was also the greatest superhero story ever written. You couldn’t write a comic book the same way after Watchmen was published. I’m not saying the Magicians books are the greatest fantasy novels ever written, but they’re asking the same kinds of questions.

 Q:  What were your major influences from science fiction or fantasy genres? What about more mainstream, literary works? How do you see these manifesting themselves in THE MAGICIAN’S LAND?

 A:  What got me started writing The Magicians was reading Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell in 2004. There were several novels around that time that did things with fantasy that had never been done before, used it to say things that had never been said before. George R.R. Martin’s books were like that, and so were Neil Gaiman’s, especially American Gods. So were Kelly Link’s. When I read those books, I knew that I had to be a part of whatever they were doing.

I also have a bit of an academic background – I spent a few years in graduate school, and I studied the literary canon, particularly the history of the novel, pretty intensely – and that comes out in the Magicians books too. You can find bits of Proust in them, and Fitzgerald, Woolf, Donne, Joyce, Chaucer, T.S. Eliot. You can find a lot of Evelyn Waugh – Brakebills owes a lot to Hogwarts, but it owes a lot more to the Oxford of Brideshead Revisited. I wanted to see what happens when you take techniques and tropes from literary fiction and transport them, illegally, across genre lines.

Q:  As a literary critic, you’ve worked to promote the value and respectability of genre fiction – one year you put George R.R. Martin at the top of Time’s list of books of the year. You did the same with Susanna Clarke and John Green. Does that fit in with what you do as a writer of fiction?

 A:  In my own nerdy way I’m trying to start a revolution, or maybe I’m just trying to join one that got started without me. It’s a literary revolution, but not the usual kind, where people who are writing difficult, avant garde literature figure out a way to make it even more difficult and avant garde. I’m talking about a revolution of pleasure, where the question of a book’s worth is de-coupled from the question of whether or not it’s hard or unpleasant to read.

Q:  If The Magicians, The Magician King, and THE MAGICIAN’S LAND were made into movies or a television series, who would you envision playing Quentin and his friends?

 A:  The challenge with the Magicians characters is to convey a lot of intelligence, and also to not be overly good-looking. They’re a clever lot, and they’re also very real – they look like real people. Ben Whishaw has probably aged out of the Quentin role, but people mention him to me a lot, and that seems right. Sometimes I pictured specific actors while I was writing – Eliot, for example, I imagine as something like Richard E. Grant in Withnail and I. I often imagine Alice as Thora Birch from Ghost World.

Q: There are a lot of tech references in The Magicians books that would seem more at home in science fiction than fantasy, ie. the origin of magic is described in hacker language.  Why did you choose to juxtapose so much tech with magic?

 A: I’m very committed to the project of making the Magicians books feel real, and to that end I made a deal with myself: everything that’s real in our world would be real in Quentin’s. And that means including contemporary technology, cell phones and the Internet and so on.

But beyond that, I think the same people who are interested in technology in our world would be drawn to magic if it were real, as much as the Wiccan crowd. Magic is interesting and complicated and powerful the same way technology is, and it requires some of the same mental discipline.

Also, I’m a science fiction writer manqué. I like the way SF writers look at the world. I like to think I write about magic the way good SF writers write about technology.

Q: You have a degree in comparative literature from Harvard but dropped out before getting your Ph.D. from Yale. What made you decide not to become an academic yourself?

 A: I can’t even remember what made me decide I wanted to be one in the first place, except that I was unemployed and wanted to read books and talk about them as much as possible. Which I did get to do, and I loved it. But I knew from watching my parents that the life of an academic is not a glamorous one. It is frequently an underpaid and inglorious one, except for the superstars, and it quickly became apparent that I wasn’t going to be one of those. Fortunately I married one instead.

Q:  You have an identical twin brother, Austin Grossman, who is also a Harvard grad and successful fantasy novelist. Why do you think you’ve traveled such similar paths professionally? How do you think growing up as twins shaped your writing, respectively?

 A:  It’s a mystery. I don’t know if twins have much more insight into it than regular people have. Austin was a very successful video game designer in his 20s, whereas I spent most of that decade looking for a career of any kind. But then somehow, for some reason, we re-converged. It happens all the time, not just with our writing. We live on opposite coasts, and only see each other a few times a year, but there’s always some uncanny coincidence in what we’re doing, or wearing, or listening to, or reading.

Though I’m very conscious of the differences in our work too. We’ve read the same things, seen the same movies, and watched the same shows, so our cultural points of reference are all the same. We know all the same words. But he writes only in the first person, and I only write in the third person. We use the same raw materials to construct very different stories.

Q.  Over the past decade, fantasy has become more accepted in mainstream and literary circles. What do you think has changed and where do you see the genre going? Does fantasy get the respect it deserves among scholars?

 A.  A lot has changed for fantasy in the last decade or so. The 1990’s were all about science fiction—Star Wars, Star Trek, the Matrix—but something changed around the turn of the millennium. After 2001 the popular imagination became focused on fantasy — Harry Potter and Twilight and The Lord of the Rings. En masse, we turned to fantasy for something we needed and weren’t finding elsewhere. What that is, it’s hard to say, but it’s led to a glorious resurgence of the genre. Fantasy is evolving and maturing. It’s definitely not just for kids anymore. Writers like Neil Gaiman, Susanna Clarke, China Mieville, George RR Martin and Kelly Link are making it more complex and interesting and sophisticated and powerful than it ever was before.

But no, as far as I can tell, it still gets very little respect from the academy.

Q:  What’s your favorite part of writing outside of reality?

 A:  What makes fantasy interesting to me is what it can’t do. Magic doesn’t solve everybody’s problems. You have characters who are capable of drawing energy from invisible sources, making it crackle from their fingers, performing miracles. But when they’re done, they’re still who they are. Life is still life. Magic doesn’t change relationships. It doesn’t fix your neuroses. Those basic problems are still what they were, and they have to be solved the old-fashioned way, just like in any other novel.

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1. Thanks to Cat Boyd over at Viking Books for this Q&A.

Thoughts on a Thursday: Reading Slumps

Thoughts on a Thursday

I am in a quandary. This has never happened before. I have been thinking for months that I am in a blogging slump, but it is so much worse than that. I am in a reading slump. And it is frightening.

I have not read a book this year yet that has wowed me. Most of my books have been 3 and 4 star ratings. About an average 3.5 star rating for the year. Not one of them has been a 5 star. And I have read things that other people have been gushing about The Goldfinch and The Leftovers for example. I find myself doping things other then reading. Gasp!

I miss great reads. I miss losing myself in a book. I miss not being able to wait to get back to it. And I am not sure what the solution is. Partly it might be a reliance on tech, social media and electronics which are some of the major distractors. So I am thinking that Mondays posts might come very late, possibly Tuesday morning. We might try to go tech free on Mondays for the rest of the summer. No phones, no tablets, no laptops. Old fashion hardbacks and lemonades only. Maybe that will help. Wish me luck.

Anyone else ever hit a slump?

Where do I Go From Here?

thoughtsI have been think a lot about this blog, about where it has been where it is going and why I do it. I think it is time for a reevaluation.

I do this for me, not for ARCs or to have a huge number of followers or to play in the sandbox with the big girls and boys. I do it because I love to read and I love to have a way to keep track of what I read. I do it to write down what I think and to see what others think if they choose to come and chat with me.

I do this because I love to challenge myself to read more and read differently. But I also will not feel badly because I do not read what everyone else thing I should read. I will read what I love and love what I read. I will learn to let go of those books which I do not love even if it means disappointing family, friends or publishers.

Everything else is gravy. I love the memes and the events and all of the fun things, but it needs to be about the rending again. Because this is about the reading, I will take the time to make it about me. I will carve out reading time and guard it jealously. Recently a dear friend posted to this to FaceBook:

The best way to describe the two different types of bibliophiles is: If you left wvredreads and me alone in a private library full of exceedingly rare books and we were both told not to touch any of them… She would get kicked out for reading one of them, and I would get kicked out for hoarding them into a pile like Smaug and whispering sweet nothings to the ones with gilded and embossed covers.

It is time for me to Smaug my reading time again.

10 YEARS? 101 BOOKS!: Thoughts on a Thursday

thoughtsThe Fantasy Project

I am a glutton for reading punishment. So when I saw this I was pretty sure I was meant for me. The Fantasy Project #101FantasyProject. The nuts and bolts of it are 10 years, 101 books and you must have a list. Any one who looks at my weekly coming up list and what I actually read know I am very bad I following my outlines for what I am going to read. BUT I am signing up and I have made a list. Why would I pick this? Because even though I read a good deal of fantasy my foundation is weak. I think I would have loved this even more if the rules had been more lenient about where the books could come from. But here are some of the basic rules:

  • Read 101 fantasy books from the list of 101 or 75 titles from the list and 26 that are not on the list = 101 books total.
  • The list must be made in advance.
  • 10 years

So here is goes:

d5ab1b12-aaa0-4a13-a265-39e1e088730c_zps1df368b3September, 2013 – September, 2023

Up to book 82 are on the 101 list after that they are of my own choosing. I have placed some sequels on here to books I have not read so I may need to swap out if I find to do not link the initial book.

  1. Poison Study (Study, #1) by Maria V. Snyder
  2. Magic Study (Study, #2) by Maria V. Snyder
  3. The Smoke Thief (Drakon, #1) by Shana Abe
  4. One for Sorrow by Christopher Barzak
  5. Daughter of the Blood (The Black Jewels #1) by Anne Bishop
  6. Heir to the Shadows (The Black Jewels, #2) by Anne Bishop
  7. Queen of the Darkness (The Black Jewels, #3) by Anne Bishop
  8. The Invisible Ring (The Black Jewels, #4) by Anne Bishop
  9. Dreams Made Flesh (The Black Jewels, #5) by Anne Bishop
  10. Tangled Webs (The Black Jewels, #6) by Anne Bishop
  11. The Shadow Queen (The Black Jewels, #7) by Anne Bishop
  12. Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1) by Patricia Briggs
  13.  Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson, #2) by Patricia Briggs
  14. Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson, #3) by Patricia Briggs
  15. Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson, #4) by Patricia Briggs
  16. Cold Days (The Dresden Files, #14) by Jim Butcher
  17. Kushiel’s Dart (Kushiel’s Universe #1) by Jacqueline Carey
  18. Obernewtyn (Obernewtyn Chronicles, #1) by Isobelle Carmody
  19. The Farseekers (The Obernewtyn Chronicles, #2) by Isobelle Carmody
  20. Ashling (The Obernewtyn Chronicles, #3) by Isobelle Carmody
  21. The Keeping Place (The Obernewtyn Chronicles, #4) by Isobelle Carmody
  22. The Stone Key (The Obernewtyn Chronicles, #5) by Isobelle Carmody
  23. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
  24. Over Sea, Under Stone (The Dark is Rising, #1) by Susan Cooper
  25. Greenwitch (The Dark is Rising, #3) by Susan Cooper
  26. The Grey King (The Dark is Rising, #4) by Susan Cooper
  27. Silver on the Tree (The Dark is Rising, #5) by Susan Cooper
  28. The Ill-Made Mute (The Bitterbynde, #1) by Cecilia Dart-Thornton
  29. Widdershins (Newford, #16) by Charles de Lint
  30. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, Bagram Ibatoulline (Illustrator)
  31. The Reluctant Swordsman (Seventh Sword #1) by Dave Duncan
  32. Castle of Wizardry (The Belgariad, #4) by David Eddings
  33. Enchanters’ End Game (The Belgariad, #5) by David Eddings
  34. The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison
  35. A Darkness Forged in Fire (Iron Elves #1) by Chris Evans
  36. Magician: Apprentice (The Riftwar Saga #1) by Raymond E. Feist
  37. An Echo in the Bone (Outlander, #7) by Diana Gabaldon
  38. A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander, #6) by Diana Gabaldon
  39. Something from the Nightside (Nightside, #1) by Simon R. Green
  40. Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory
  41. Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #1) by Laurell K. Hamilton
  42. Fly by Night (Fly By Night #1) by Frances Hardinge
  43. The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker (Strangely Beautiful, #1) by Leanna Renee Hieber
  44. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
  45. The Thread That Binds the Bones (Chapel Hollow #1) by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Richard Bober (illustrator)
  46. Summon the Keeper (Keeper Chronicles #1) by Tanya Huff
  47. The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson
  48. Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones
  49. Street Magic (Black London, #1) by Caitlin Kittredge
  50. Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
  51. Wondrous Strange (Wondrous Strange #1) by Lesley Livingston
  52. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) by George R.R. Martin
  53. The Riddle-Master of Hed (Riddle-Master #1) by Patricia A. McKillip
  54. Witches Abroad (Discworld #12) by Terry Pratchett
  55. Lords and Ladies (Discworld, #14) by Terry Pratchett
  56. Maskerade (Discworld, #18) by Terry Pratchett
  57. Carpe Jugulum (Discworld, #23) by Terry Pratchett
  58. A Hat Full of Sky (Discworld, #32) by Terry Pratchett
  59. Wintersmith (Discworld, #35) by Terry Pratchett
  60. I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld, #38)  by Terry Pratchett
  61. Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon, #1) by China Miéville
  62. The Scar (New Crobuzon, #2) by China Miéville
  63. The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar
  64. Darkfever (Fever, #1)  by Karen Marie Moning
  65. Bloodfever (Fever, #2) by Karen Marie Moning
  66. Faefever (Fever, #3)  by Karen Marie Moning
  67. Dreamfever (Fever, #4) by Karen Marie Moning
  68. Resenting the Hero (Hero #1) by Moira J. Moore
  69. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
  70. Mister Monday (The Keys to the Kingdom, #1) by Garth Nix
  71. The Suicide Collectors by David Oppegaard
  72. The Adoration of Jenna Fox (Jenna Fox Chronicles, #1) by Mary E. Pearson
  73. Wings (Wings #1) by Aprilynne Pike
  74. The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) by Patrick Rothfuss
  75. The Alchemyst (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, #1) by Michael Scott
  76. Witch Hill by Marcus Sedgwick
  77. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  78. Wicked Game (WVMP Radio #1) by Jeri Smith-Ready
  79. Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception (Books of Faerie, #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
  80. Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  81. Lord of the Fading Lands (Tairen Soul #1) by C.L. Wilson
  82. Lady of Light and Shadows (Tairen Soul #2) by C.L. Wilson
  83. Gormenghast (Gormenghast, #2) by Mervyn Peake
  84. The Dying Earth by Jack Vance
  85. The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything by John D. MacDonald
  86. Witch World (Witch World Series 1: Estcarp Cycle, #1) by Andre Norton
  87. The Magus by John Fowles
  88. The Owl Service by Alan Garner
  89. Grendel by John Gardner
  90. Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber
  91. Mythago Wood (Mythago Wood, #1) by Robert Holdstock
  92. Jack of Shadows by Roger Zelazny
  93. The Dragon and the George (Dragon Knight, #1) by Gordon R. Dickson
  94. Our Lady Of Darkness by Fritz Leiber
  95. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind
  96. The Prestige by Christopher Priest
  97. The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley
  98. Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees
  99. The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany
  100. The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser
  101. The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett

 

 

Dear Mr. Gaiman: Thoughts on a Thursday

thoughts

As most of you know, last month I went to one of my very first author readings and signings. I have a saying I toss about often when referring to myself or my girls, “We do nothing by half.” For example, when there was a funeral for the girls pet skink it was complete with flowers, black dresses, readings, music, and hugs.

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So, of course, my first author reading and signing was with my literary hero, Neil Gaiman, the man who has graced just about every positive Top Ten Tuesday since I began participating in them. You might guess that this was going to be huge, monumental even, for me. What you might not know is that I am a bit of a weeper. I cry when I am sad, which is normal, but I also cry when I am happy or angry or tired or overwhelmed, which is, apparently, when I meet my literary hero.

The day was lovely. I got to share it with The Girl, who also looks up to Mr. Gaiman.

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And with two of my dearest friends in the whole universe, who also think Mr. Gaiman is the bees’ knees.

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And it was a beautiful day.

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But what I did discover was that I was wholly incapable of managing to articulate anything to Mr. Gaiman when I got my 15 seconds of signing time. As I have mentioned, he was gracious and kind but I would like to tell him what I was trying to say. So today I will.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,

In 2002 I read this book called American Gods. It kind of rocked my world. Its reading corresponded with a number of changes taking place in my life and it was just what I needed to be reading then. You see I am a bookie. I have read as long as I can remember and as much as anyone who is a bookie, I was that kid for whom books were an escape and a soft place to land. What I didn’t know was how much I need that again and there it was in American Gods. I remember reading the “I can believe …” speech over and over and over. I would bet that my book still opens to that page. I debated having you sign that copy but I purchased a new one for you to sign so that I could still loan my well-loved copy out.

I want to thank you because for the next decade plus some your books have been that place to land and more. Some of the very best moments, things, and events have been framed by your writing or your voice.

One day this young guy I met through some dear friends asked me what my favorite book was. I told him it was American Gods and lend him my copy. He and his partner were with me when I met you last month. Because I am not you I can’t even begin to come up with the right words to describe what he is to me, friend is a ghostly wan thing to use and family is not quite enough either. But I would be so much less without him in my life. And you were there at the beginning of that.

Then there is my daughter who you also met at the signing. She was the poised young woman who you signed for just after me. I my heart exploded just a bit more watching her and you interact. You see she is an introvert. She hates crowds and loud things but she sat in a room with 900 strangers and tolerated being pestered by the drunkard in front of us because you were there. She wants to be a writer. She reads voraciously, 5 books on the day we waited to meet you. She writes every day, 20 minutes at least and in the past 18 months or so has begun finishing things because this writer she admires, one who she reads and listens to on audio, said in a FAQ “How do you do it? You do it. You write. You finish what you write.” When she was done getting her books signed she beamed at me and said “I just had words with Neil Gaiman!” You inspire her.

Then there where the endless nights of hearing to you and Maddie talking to each other as The Girl went to sleep. She listened to that interview for at least a solid year when her overactive brain made sleep difficult. You helped her.

There was sitting with my 6-year-old and stumbling through Blueberry Girl which she got out of the library as I realized that YES, these are the things I wish for them.
“Help her to help herself, help her to stand;
Help her to lose and to find.
Teach her we’re only as big as our dreams;
Show her that fortune is blind.”
You gave my dreams for them words.

There was discovering graphic novels through Sandman, although you have set a very high bar for my taste in the genre. There was falling in love with fairy tales all over again with Stardust and Instructions. You reminded me that in words there is art and love and joy.

There was laying in a hospital bed in the wee hours with a tiny girl new to the world, exhausted and too keyed up to sleep and alone because The Girl needed her Poppa at home, and Neverwhere on my nightstand. You were there to keep me company.

There was sitting on the floor in my local book store with Bean and The Girl next to me reading The Dangerous Alphabet because we were on day 5 of no power during a heat wave and when I asked them where we should go to escape the heat they clamored for the Bookstore because the library also had no power. You were there to help distract us.

You see there were all these moments. Some big and some so mundane. And you had no idea you were there for them. And when I got the chance, when I had a moment to tell you, when I was face to face with the person who created a soft place, an escape, a backdrop to so many things, I lost all my words. I, in fact, did not have “words with Neil Gaiman,” but because you are kind and generous, I had a hug. I hope that it conveyed the tiniest bit of the thanks I owe you. Maybe next time, I will have words. But I think I might print this out, just in case.

Fondly,

Carrie, AKA West Virginia Red Read

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PS – I still say that while all new doctors become The Doctor, everyone has one doctor who is their own.