Another rediscovered instalment of the Dalek Game! This one was for M M Kaye’s wonderful fairytale, The Ordinary Princess. The best princess, the best prince, the best wicked (or disgruntled) stepmother, the best names. Approached in my affections only by E Nesbit’s “Melisande, or Long and Short Division”, which loses because M M Kaye’s illustrations (her own work) are just so charming.
Do we detect a theme?
This instalment of the Dalek Game is for E. Nesbit’s novel Five Children and It, (and a direct reference to H. R. Millar‘s illustrations for it) one of those “be careful what you wish for” stories which was far more entertaining than didactic.
I am probably being unfair to late 19th/early 20th century children’s novels, because in my mind they are mostly very grim, with saintly children dying and melting the hearts of neighbouring curmudgeons. I’ve realised lately that while there is some truth to this, that seed was planted by sarcastic comments in the books of some of my favourite more recent writers. The older books I’ve read usually make the transgressions – while attended by awful consequences – look not-so-secretly like jolly good fun as well. By which you can deduce I had a hearty dose of E. Nesbit, L.M. Montgomery, Susan Coolidge and Ethel Turner, growing up. Not that the last two, at least, didn’t feature their share of tragedy, but at least everyone seemed to be having a good time up until that point.
And the best lessons were never that you couldn’t fly, but that you should take reasonable safety measures beforehand.
Another E. Nesbit Dalek for the Dalek Game! This one is for The Phoenix and the Carpet, which is… probably due for a reread, because I haven’t retained this one the way I have her short stories and other novels. It is one of the more fantastical, but I remember it as less enchanting than – say – The Enchanted Castle, which only has one magical conceit, or the Bastable books, which haven’t any magic at all, but might as well be Narnia, or Harry Potter (as a matter of fact, they get a direct reference in Narnia). Have I mentioned how I love it when non-fantasy novels are so fantastical that fantasy bookstores stock them? I will next time I talk about Eva Ibbotson.
In other news: My cover for Karen Joy Fowler’s What I Didn’t See is out! Also, I am busy making paper-cut images for my contribution to a fairytale art show (among other projects), of which more anon. The date-claimer details (for Brisbane folk) are:
Once Upon a Time – Reinterpreting the Fairy Tale
16th- 25th August 2013
The Art & Design Precinct, 10 Bailey St, West End, Brisbane
This instalment of the Dalek Game is for E. Nesbit’s short fairytale of wishes and mathematics, “Melisande, or Long and Short Division”, which is available at several locations online (here’s one) but is best read with all her other wonderful tales of princesses and lift operators, kings and treacly sea-serpents, plagues of yellow houses and bell-people, and towns in libraries (in towns in libraries).
In other news: Oh look! A new Dalek drawing and more to come! Also, I’m taking part in a fairytale art exhibition in Brisbane in August, and the organisers are fundraising on Pozible, should you wish to obtain an art print or other rewards (and support the Make a Wish foundation).
Oh look a Dalek!
This instalment of the game is for a book by Stephen Fry (yes, that Stephen Fry): the readable, entertaining and beautifully validating explanatory/musing/instructional guide to poetic forms, The Ode Less Travelled. I love this book. It is very practical, far from dry, genuinely useful as a reference guide, a practical course, a lever for disengaging the angst from the rigour, and a handy-sized object for beating friends over the head with until they produce werewolf sestinas (Caitlene, I know where you live).
The drawing is also in honour of travelling at home, on two fronts: the one where you do all the things at home you like to do travelling (for me, that is sketching in cafes and writing in restaurant windows, so that works out well); and the one where you plan trips to very-likely-Dartmoor-after-World-Fantasy-this-November. So please feel free to let me know if you know the identity of the mysterious “iconic figure in Australian land law” who is connected with Dartmoor. That person is not the reason for going to Dartmoor, but I received a flyer for the 2nd Annual UK Property Case Law Tour today, and now I need to know!
Also, I just finished a new book cover and set of internal illustrations for an amazing collection of stories for an author whose last publication from the same press was illustrated by one of my heroes of illustration and I’m just going to faint quietly off the back of the chair now.
This instalment of the Dalek Game is forMichael Chabon’s novel Gentlemen of the Road. You will note I have not even attempted to approximate a reference to Gary Gianni’s entirely perfect illustrations.
The novel as a whole (the words, the green and gold cover in which I bought it, Gianni’s wholehearted images) is a fascinating performance, utterly styled without being stylised. Chabon performs genres beautifully, like the best of Shyamalan. Not like a quick, accurate costume, but something like an old tableaux vivant, with all the details right and breathing poses held still for admiration and inspection or… something. They aren’t dead at all, or false – he does literary fiction, or science fiction, or noir or (as here) Rider Haggard adventure sincerely, lovingly and very delightedly aware of the story as story.
Now that I think about it, this is what bothered me about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Not that someone had the idea, at all – I love that Seth Grahame-Smith not only had the idea but did something about it. But P&P&Z felt to me, at the end, like an exercise in a title. It had the brain, but never quite got to the heart. Whereas, while Chabon’s big ideas might easily be presented as equally odd as any of Grahame-Smith’s essays in juxtaposition, I lose myself in the world of the story, in the whole book, the thing itself, and forget the author’s cleverness because of it.