Thursday, June 11, 2009

The road that led me back to the Block

I just did something I have never done before: I stopped reading a book I was enjoying. Here’s why:
Because I am at the library almost everyday, I tend to put a lot of books on hold, whether it’s job related, or something I read about it just piqued my interest. Sometimes a book will come in for me and I have no idea why I put it on hold. I should try writing things down, but I kind of enjoy the ambiguity and also trying to figure myself out. So, when I got back from vacation, I discovered that a book had come in for me. It was The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman. Since it was a new book I concluded I didn’t put it on hold for any other reason than I wanted to read it at some point in the past. So I checked it out and started. And was amazed. It was magical and wonderful and I was absorbed from the first paragraph. And I got to page 90 or so and was still enjoying myself for the most part, but decided to read the reviews again. And they told me what I was coming to realize on my own; although Hoffman’s use of magical realism is enough to draw a reader in, the sadness and dire situations just below the surface begin to weigh the story down. And even if there’s hope at the end, it’s not enough to pull the reader up to any sort of satisfying conclusion. Basically, I realized it was going to get sadder before it got happier, and I just didn’t think it was worth it.

Also, as I said I was drawn in from the first paragraph. Hoffman’s prose employed the best sort of magical realism, a sort of ethereal lilt that made me want to run around barefoot in the wet grass and dream of magical worlds. It tugged on my id’s heartstrings. It brought me back to the first time I read Francesca Lia Block. Yes, I know I just wrote about her in my last post, but like I said before, she’s been affecting me lately, thanks to Alice Hoffman. I realized I didn’t want to read something that was going to draw me into a world that would in the end only make me sad.
I was reading The Story Sisters but I had to stop. I had to stop because I wanted the real thing. So I decided to read I Was a Teenage Fairy. And I’m happy I switched.

I may pick up The Story Sisters again. Maybe when I want a little more drama, a little more realism with my magic. But for now I’m sticking with the hopeful slinkster cool writing of my friend Francesca Lia Block.

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