Friday, September 14, 2007

Monster Identification Society, No Moms Allowed

My son, the Budza, has started a Monster Identification Society with his second grade buddies. The Guide has an FBI advisory notice inside the front cover, a stern warning to non-members not to turn the page. My husband has his MIDFCT (Budza's acronym for the club) card, and has been priveleged to see the monsters identified thus far. As for me, until I rate, I have to make do with Judy Sierra's Gruesome Guide to World Monsters. It features the wonderfully weird artwork of Henrik Drescher--tapping right into the 7 year old's fascination with the alien, the monstrous, the gruesome and grisly. The colors are lurid, the art reminiscent of Leonard Baskin at his darkest (see Ghosts? Did You Say Ghosts? by Richard Michelson) but with a gleeful jolt of anarchic European circus sensibility: world turned upside down. Be sure to check out Drescher's magnificent The Boy Who Ate Around, in which a boy eats everything except his dinner: his parents, the school, the White House, the Earth--a book that taps into the kid psyche in ways that delight kids and make parents squirm. And, while we're on the subject of monsters and mothers, it's worth tracking down a copy of Liz Rosenberg's Monster Mama with great illustrations by Stephen Gammell.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle, 1918-2007

Madeleine L'Engle has died at the age of 88. I still remember reading A Wrinkle in Time, in a UK paperback edition that was a tenth birthday gift from my friend, Eleanor. I met L'Engle once, in the late 1970s, when she was kind enough to let me interview her for my college magazine. I always admired her ability to write anywhere, any time--and to imagine any Where, any Time.

Who didn't want to be a member of the Murray family, and have a scientist mother who cooks stew on the Bunsen burner? As I grew older I found her depiction of family life unrealistically idealized, but that didn't stop me from wanting to read about everything that happened to her characters.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Writing in the First Monkey

“Have you considered writing this story in the third monkey rather than the first monkey?” (New Yorker Cartoon Caption Content, art by Gahan Wilson, caption by Robert Gray)

I've started a new book, written in the first person, and so far, it's like turning on a tap...this new character has a voice and she has a lot to say. I love it when that happens.

My first three books are written in the "third monkey," a shifting point of view with a super-omniscient-narrotor that frankly drives a lot of people crazy. (It certainly drove people in my old writer's groups crazy.) With my more recent books, there is some action that occurs out of the main character's sight, but most of the interior monologue and the overwhelming POV is that of the young heroine, Theodora.

I am so excited to be writing in the First Monkey!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Cats, Kilims, and Books: Loganberry Books

I've just found this bookstore in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Business hasn't taken me there yet, so it may be some time before I have a chance to browse their extensive stock among the resident cats, the kilim rugs, and some seriously over-the-top fancy bookcases that look as though they might rotate to reveal hidden staircases. For now I can only content myself with an online order. Check out the comprehensive website and play their game, Stump the Bookseller. For a $2 processing fee, they will post your stumper and likely as not rapidly post an answer to your longstanding book mystery. What was the late 1960s fantasy with a blue cover about a girl named Ann and a dolphin? It's bothered me for years, and in about 24 hours the geniuses at Loganberry had identified Dear Dolphin by Herbert A. Kenny. How delighted am I??? Owner Harriet Logan (Loganberry was her college nickname, and you have to like her taste in friends) also has a mail order book club, the Bookworm Society, a blog, and links to such wonderful presses as Purple House Press, who are doing the good work of bringing some of the classics we love back into print.