I am currently getting ready to tackle the last two rounds of corrections of the third book in the Citlalli series, and one of the things that entails is going over books one and two one more time to ensure continuity. The problem is that rereading them is incredibly frustrating, as I keep finding things I would like to change, but have no choice but to leave as they are. Yes, on a rational level I know, the fact that I can’t help but to feel that the earlier books are missing something is a good sign, I know it shows that I have grown since then, and so on… but I still cringe when I read them, I just can’t help it. Here’s hoping that when I go over book three a year from now, I won’t find it as cringe-worthy… or maybe I should hope that I will.
Remember how on my recap of 2013 I mentioned that I had one book being revised? Well, that one is the third book of the Citlalli series and, if everything goes according to plan, it should be out in the last week of July/first week of August!
I have to say that the fact that it is in a readable form and with a possible release data clearly established is a relief because that is one that did give me quite a bit of trouble. In fact it is nowhere near what I thought it would be when I first started toying with the idea a few eons ago!
Oh, and i case you were wondering, chances are that Citlalli is going to be a tetralogy… or maybe it would be more accurate to describe is as a trilogy with a twist.
Yesterday I stumbled upon one of my very old books… and by that I mean one of those my mom used to read to me when I was only a couple of years old, long before I could read them myself. The thing was falling apart, and there was some evidence that it had been patched up more than once. In other words, it showed all the signs of a children’s book that has been ‘well-loved’ (read ‘thoroughly chewed’). When I saw it, I was overjoyed. It was such a seemingly insignificant thing, but it brought back so many memories. I spent a couple of hours getting reacquainted with some I hadn’t really forgotten (though I admit I was surprised to realize that that little book included The Three Astronauts, a very short story by Umberto Eco) and getting a little teary eyed.
It was, in other words, a wonderful experience… and then I started thinking about kids today, who are learning to read on a tablet, that will get replaced and discarded in a couple of years, kids who will never have a chance to stumble upon an old friend as I did yesterday, and I couldn’t help but to think that they will be missing something… and the worst part is that they’ll never even notice.
Oh, I’m not denying that there are plenty of advantages to technology, but it is a trade-off, and the kids that are growing up glued to their tablets will never know what they are missing. They will never know the joy of stumbling upon an unexpected treasure in a pile of old books, they will never wonder about the hands that held the book they are currently reading a hundred years ago. In short, we are heading into a world in which there are no first editions, and in which getting your favorite book autographed by its author is no longer an option. Granted, moving half a world away with a library comprising thousands of volumes is bound to be easier with a tablet or an ereader than with thousands upon thousands of pounds of dead trees (I’ve done it, and I’ll be the first to admit that it is not much fun), but there is a certain kind of magic to the printed page. Cracking open an old book brings back a scent of the past… and that is a scent that is on the brink of being lost for good.
As you can probably tell, I’m finally done with the covers!
And almost a month later I am still going over Baum’s Oz books, though I am nearing the end of the line (I am currently reading The Magic of Oz, meaning that I have only Glinda of Oz left to go). One of the things I’ve noticed in these last few books however, is that while there is no getting around the fact that the books remain children’s books, the tone seems to have grown a little more serious, and the plots a little more complex. This was particularly apparent in The Tin Woodman of Oz… and that is particularly interesting because it is the first one in which in the preface the author acknowledges the existence of adult readers. In a way I guess it was only natural, after all the guy had been releasing Oz books for eighteen years by then, and that meant that a whole generation of adults that had grown up reading these stories, plus some grandparents who may have come across these books while reading them to a child only to find something in them that resonated within them.
Anyway, even though reading this book can leave you feeling a little lost at first if you haven’t read all of the previous entries in the series, a quick trip to Wikipedia will probably enable you to work around that one, and if you like children’s classics this book is a nice way to spend one afternoon.
After thinking it over for a while I decided to tackle the Oz books. Like a lot of people I grew up being familiar with The Wizard of Oz, only when I read it a few days ago I realized that the version I had read as a child was an adaptation (apparently someone had decided that the book had to be dumbed down even further, and as a child I was unaware of that fact). In addition to that my memories of the book had somehow managed to get tangled with those of the movie, and the end result was that all of a sudden I found myself being confronted with a book that was not like I had been expecting it to be. No, it’s not great, but it is still an interesting read, and I realize that complaining that a children’s book comes across as being a little childish for my liking is more than a little silly.
Anyway, once I was done with The Wizard of Oz I moved on to the rest of the series. So far I have only read a few titles (most of them can be downloaded from Project Gutenberg), and while at times I find myself itching for something that is at least a little more challenging, coming in the aftermath of my rereading the whole Discworld series, these books make for an interesting precedent. Sure, there are a number of significant differences, and I can already hear the howls from the Discworld fans at the mere thought of this comparison, but in a way it is not that much of a stretch to see the Oz books as the grandparents of both the Discworld and even the Middle-earth (and yes, like all grandparents, this one too can come across as a little embarrassing at times). The imagination is there, and I can see a lot of potential, but in a way that is what makes these books so frustrating: yes, the pieces are there, now if only the author would do something with them.
Well, like I said, grandparents can and do come across as rather old-fashioned at times, so I guess that is to be expected… and the bottom line is that, as embarrassing as the can be, there is no denying that knowing our grandparents can help us understand who we are and where we come from. No, I’m not sure these books would be appealing to children who are old enough to read them nowadays, and for adults they are mostly a curiosity, but if you are into the history of fantasy and children’s lit, these books are definitely worth it (and from what I have seen so far I suspect that The Wizard of Oz is not the best one of the lot).
Remember how I few days ago I mentioned I was going to be tackling some children’s ‘classics’? Well, I’ve already begun and the truth is that at times I find myself wondering if somehow we switched species sometime in the last hundred years or so without realizing it. Oh, the book I am currently reading is not one of the best known stories ever, but rather one that one of my uncles, who is considerably older than my mom to begin with, recommended. He said it was a book he had enjoyed as an adult, so I was really looking forward to it, but so far I have to say that it’s been a major disappointment. Still it is an interesting look at the past so in that regard I guess it’s still worth the trouble, but honestly did kids ever behave that way?