This blog is basically about how good books are nice and bad books are the pits. And then I get grumpy.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Hey, it's just a story!

After a brief sabbatical during which I read Anelli's Harry, A History, I am back to reading Miller's The Magician's Book. How different they are! Anelli's book is a paean to all Potter things Rowling-approved. Miller's is genuine criticism in the personal and literary senses.

I keep finding things I want to write about as I read the book. So, on the heels of my humble self-correction below, I thought I'd go back to criticizing.

Consider this sentence from page 158 in the chapter entitled Blood Will Out.

"[The Narnia stories] take place in a dream world where talking beavers bake marmalade rolls despite having no surplus goods to trade for oranges and sugar, commodities that can only have been imported from a warmer land."

Miller then goes on to make several points about the illogical logistics of Lewis's "slapdash creation."

We are talking about children's fiction are we not, or did I miss something? Miller seems to be taking apart the world of Narnia - the fictional world of Narnia - the way a Trekkie dissects the United Federation of Planets. Only for a Star Trek fan that makes sense since it's meant to be thoughtfully considered, a safe way to comment on the real life we all live through the safety of fantasy. I doubt that when Lewis called his story a "supposal" of an alternate world he meant for readers to nit-pick about where ingredients for baked goods came from for Mrs Beaver. He was probably talking about more weighty, theological matters. If you're going to critique so far as the most minute aspects of daily fictional life for these characters, perhaps you've lost the Narnia forest for the talking trees.

Miller's readable prose does reveal some things about Lewis that, perhaps, we'd rather not know. Perhaps. So maybe I should be grateful for these silly asides which take the focus away from weightier issues like sado-masochism and prejudice. After all, it did give me material for another post. And the reference to marmalade rolls did provide delicious imagery. But, hey, this truly belongs under the 'it's just a story' heading.

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