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[personal profile] kate_nepveu
I am very very tired but I also need to hydrate and then remain upright for a while, so let me see how far I get in cleaning up my live-tweeting of panels.

First up:

Classic YA Book Club: The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper
Victoria Janssen (leader), Sandra Kasturi, Miriam Newman, Sonya Taaffe, Tamara Vardomskaya

These are mostly copied & pasted from Twitter, with occasional cleanup where I think I can resolve ambiguity or expand on something quickly.

As panel waits to start, comparing each other's paper editions that they brought to the panel.

Introductions! Including how first encountered book, and whether read whole series.

Sandra: co-publisher of ChiZine, writer. Found series when 10-11, whole series is part of seasonal reading, which times so that reading TDiR at Christmas.

Tamara: encountered in grade 6, around 1996; everyone in class loved it. Had not read SILVER ON THE TREE until yesterday. Still hasn't read OVER SEA, present library didn't have it.

Victoria: found TDiR in library, took several years to find all & read out of order. TDiR remains favorite.

Tamara: reads from a Cooper introduction, OVER SEA written first. Cooper had image of story in snow in head, didn't realize at first that it was connected to OVER SEA.

Miriam: associate editor at Candlewick Press, children's & YA; first encountered when dad read to self & sister around age 7; whole series was heard out loud first

Miriam mentions being Jewish kid and Narnia going over head; Sonya, thought it was solstice, lion is very good solar symbol, there you go. Miriam: TDiR has scenes re Christmas holidays, going to church, thoughts about family tradition & identifying with things that aren't your tradition.

Sonya: writes short stories & poetry; read OVER SEA on own; parents gave TDiR on 11th birthday; has read entire sequence, which has cross-linked with a lot of other books in head, like Wales being (kind of a fantasy otherworld, to paraphrase even more wildly than usual), or using the Welsh pronunciation lessons in GREY KING for Prydain names (and then learning that Alexander didn't use Welsh pronunciations!)

(Sonya previously had comment about disjunct between OVER SEA & TDiR in terms of genre, and that Cooper introduction made sense in that regard, which I think was about OVER SEA not originally being planned as part of larger work)

Sonya's favorite is GREY KING. Cooper's writing very image based, works on resonance of images less than what people say/do, and TDiR and GREY KING are particularly image-dense books. GREENWITCH isn't as chock-a-block with "wow, look at that" on the page (Victoria: very dreamlike), but TDiR and GREY very imagist. Victoria: Cooper was away from home when wrote TDiR, suggests something along lines of that being partial explanation for heightened level of British myth on page.

Miriam: RAVEN BOYS in part inspired by author's love of this series

Tamara: going back to images: as well as all the symbols, also extremely concrete sensory descriptions, & locations from Cooper's childhood

Victoria: favorite things from book? Own answer: setting, including family & their traditions, know them so well by the end

Sonya: get same charged precise detail about people's hands and hair, and (big fantasy stuff), everything at that level (paraphrase)

Miriam: not portal fantasy, magic in real world, moving back and forth in time and who knows what when; also, the level of detail is why tried putting honey on toast!

Victoria: carnival mask is magic in its own way; is youngest of five siblings, recognized Will's feelings re Stephen and being singled out by cool eldest sibling out of house. Then mask turns into Herne, is magic then, but already was; everything's concrete but has fuzz around edges re: depth of interpretation.

Sonya: Cooper writing in Caribbean makes sense of why Herne comes from Jamaican mask. Miriam, I think: also global nature of worldbuilding/conflict

(Miriam: story missed part of, but seems to be about Cooper doing something with Morris dancing and antlers?)

Sandra: re-reads whole series as gulp usually, so feels like one book. Does like GREENWITCH very much because so much Jane's story, also throughline of Arthurian mythology; plus tiny hints that aren't explained. Eg Herne tawny eyes that seemed familiar, connections to other characters with similar descriptions? Likes that some mystery still but feels very satisfying. Recounts being furious about Bran giving up magic but that being the right choice. Miriam: unusual choice compared to portal fantasy: usually choice whether to go home, which had been goal whole time, but now realize belong in the magical world.

(Digression into Narnia, not transcribed, except recommendation of Ursula Vernon's "Elegant and Fine".)

"speaking of things we pretend never happened" -- one or two people in audience did see movie, no-one jumps up to defend it

Sonya goes back to view of series as one long narrative. Individual books have distinct flavors, mentions Hawkins as part that sticks out--panel talks about wanting to be surprised about Hawkins again and how late in book it comes and how upsetting that coldness of the Light is to some readers, since the discussion is delayed so long in series. Victoria: goes back to theme of human free will and saving selves, Old Ones help only; competing themes of destiny v choice; Will doesn't rebel very much against destiny, but does make mistakes out of inexperience.

Sonya: found more interesting as grew up, because first read at Will's age with few connections to kids same age, so felt very similar to him; later realized that Will was supposed to be ordinary schoolkid who was dislocated for eternity. One of reasons GREY is favorite, Bran and family dynamics.

Tamara: choice, yes, but plots tend to be railroad-y (everyone: plot coupons), whereas GREY, actual danger and no-take-back consequences, moves up a level. Sonya: yes, and family plot is not schematic to mythological plot. Sonya & Sandra: Owen is terrible parent and comes very close to falling to the Dark, and then redeems self at end. Sonya: Bran gets get-out-of-jail-free card for feeling weird and out-of-place: you came out of time!

Miriam: series has several differernt views of families & parents, in realistic and compelling ways. YA is lousy with orphans because simplifies plot. Whereas this gets parents out of way in some ways, but Will has most loving warm family. Sonya: no villain siblings. Various people yell about Mary.

Miriam: then Drews away from parents in GREENWITCH, much more absent / benign neglect, also not judged by narrative. Sonya: matters that Drews have completely functional sibling relationships, have the breaking/shifting alliances. Also part of anchoring, that in midst of high fantasy events, kids being kids; not deflating or ironic, just relatable, can't do numinous 24/7, teeth would fall out.

(audience q over whether Dark or Light causes Will's mother to fall & injure self)

Sonya: another great image, candles of winter. Sandra: know the rhyme too? Sonya; made first friend in college by mutually reciting it. (audience, panel collectively mumble parts of it, inevitably)

panel: some of the things in invocations, etc., are from pre-existing myth, Robert Graves, Mabinogion.

Tamara: bothered that Merriam can immediately translate Grail into rhyming English

I ask whether Cooper's actually good poetry. Sonya: well, good _songs_. Sandra: don't really think of as poetry (I missed some of this answer, I think)

audience about gender roles in series. mentions Mari Ness' posts on children's fantasy, critiques of female roles here (SEA, TDiR, GREENWITCH, GREY KING, SILVER). Sandra: going to say something people probably going to disagree with: I don't give a shit. I love it, personally don't care. Maybe Jane is passive, maybe Mary is a twit; people are. Is a conversation worth having, just not interested in having about these loved books from childhood.

Sonya: re Mrs Rowlands being White Rider: likes idea that Dark can look like someone who has literally handed you cupcakes, useful in structure of book. Sonya, Miriam: compassion for Greenwitch, esp. in comparison to coldness of Light, important to have that valued. (Sandra: compares to Bilbo & Frodo's pity re Gollum.) Sonya: thinks Greenwitch-making only entirely female ritual in books, and everyone in village at that time, who is female, goes, no matter status (except jerk American aunt). Discussion about being polite stranger to other people's beliefs.

Victoria, Sonya re: past risings: Cooper influenced by WWII, also thinking about past invasions of Britain (I think there was something in here about the dubious nature of that Britain-centric viewpoint, but I may have misunderstood or misremembered)

final comments? Tamara: wants to know about collection of books on NECROMANCY at manor??!! Miriam: wants SABRIEL crossover now. Sonya; didn't talk about way book handles time; love it. Also "the hour is come and not the man" is actually from folktales about hauntings & drowning after hearing that said, therefore end is inevitable

If anything was insufficiently unpacked, or if you want to talk about it, come into the comments! (You don't need to have a DW account, just comment anonymous and sign your name or nickname or something at the bottom so we can have continuity of conversation.)

Date: Saturday, July 15th, 2017 05:10 am (UTC)
sovay: (Rotwang)
From: [personal profile] sovay
I am very very tired but I also need to hydrate and then remain upright for a while, so let me see how far I get in cleaning up my live-tweeting of panels.

Thank you for taking notes on these!

I have an entire post from several years back about Owen Davies (I overstated terrible). I still think it's amazing I forgot him.

August 2017

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