Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Story On "On Fairy Stories"

Over the weekend I finally finished  "On Fairy Stories" by JRR Tolkien.  It's a nice essay (27ish pages) that took longer than I anticipated to read.  But that set up some awesome timing for the finish.

A fancy little review here:

Interesting as it is written prior to LOTR, and Tolkien clearly has principled views of what a fairy-story is and how useful it is. 

And in other news: (a not unrelated anecdote)

On Saturday I was able to jaunt to the local (non-chain) Christian book story.  I was searching for a book that could probably be found/bought faster & cheaper through cbd.com or amazon or the big chain down the road; but there is something very nice about local shops.  I am a fan of mom and pop shops and local ownership.  I am a patron.

So Becky says "grab a book for me if you see one" and I agreed with the sentiment.  I like bargain sections and would certainly have her in mind rather than my wild taste.  The "bargain" section was packed with uninteresting stuff so I turned to the non-bargain remainder of the store.  There are a few "specials" intermingled so it isn't a bad option for a deal.

According to the bookstore divisions, Becky's general preference falls into contemporary fiction or historical fiction.  Becky and I do cross over in a genre described more as a fantasy fiction or "fairy story".  Prior to the essay I wouldn't have labeled it as that, but that's what it is.

I was greatly troubled in looking for a book that I might be also interested in opening after Becky was done.  It the realm we overlap in, it was classified as teen or children's fiction.  Huh?  Why?  Granted, I have no problems with the label, but is there no adult fiction that approaches these elements?

I know the bookstore has to sell what sells.  It was just frustrating that I don't like what they're selling.  I felt like a vegetarian at a pig roast.

A day later I finished the Tolkein essay which really plunged into this being a terrible trend of limiting fairy stories to nursery rhymes.  It's not that we stop enjoying them, it is that we stop telling them.  A huge point to me was the value to a person of escape.  And the value of a story  using eucatastrophe (an unexpected wreck for good).

It was an incredibly thoughtful essay.  The concept of Escape has me pondering still.  But for now I'll sit in my cubicle (a prison without bars) and stare outside at the rolling clouds.


  1. This is why I still frequent the YA section at my local library. I am pretty confident that adults need the escape to another planet/time/reality just as much, if not more than, the 15 year old.