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Books From My Past, Pt. 3 (Up Periscope)

If I were to compile a list of ‘most frequently read books during boyhood’, I think many people would expect to find one of the Narnia Chronicles at the tippy top (or maybe The Two Towers or The Return of the King). That’s what I would expect of myself. But only if I was–perhaps–being a touch dishonest. Those are respectable childhood books, books that any  kid-lit author can associate with in public without shame. They’re shiny, well-known, and brilliant. And yes, I did read them. Lots.

But blogs are all about honesty (like wikipedia and the evening news). And so I’ll take an honest look at the dusty books on my shelves (all of which I saved). And the truth is Read the rest of this entry »

Books from My Past, Pt. 2 (Where Solomon Kept His Diamonds)

At some point in my pre-adolescence (not that I could exactly pinpoint my age), my mother began to lobby me with a book. I’m sure that I had been doing some profound limp-rag-draped-over-the-arm-of-the-couch-I-don’t-have-anything-good-to-read muttering when she first asked me something like, “Have you read King’s Solomon’s Mines?”

The limp rag shook its head.

“You should.”

The thing was, I didn’t want to. I hadn’t the least little inclination to pick up that book with the old binding and the rough-cut pages. It was . . . old. And old books had awkward English and ridiculous characters unable to function as human beings. Such was my wisdom. Read the rest of this entry »

Books From My Past, Pt. 1 (Ah, Sweet Tintin)

Two things before I really begin . . .

1. I am currently nosed completely under (like a mole, not a ship) working on a new book. This is why I haven’t been blogging (see, perfectly good excuse). But as I don’t work on Sundays, that excuse doesn’t apply right now. Thus, I blog.

2. I hope no one expects me to suggest amazingly original works in this new blog category of mine. Or particularly helpful recommendations. I can only be autobiographical. I can’t say that everything I mention here will be whole grain, wholesome boy-food. The meals I will recount here are meals that sated my appetite, filled me up, and/or left me curious to try new things. Some titles that I intend to trot out will be the literary equivalent of sliced dogs in mac ‘n’ cheese (and that’s no insult in my world).

Right. Down to it then. When I was in 5th grade, Read the rest of this entry »

Allow Me to Introduce Howard Pyle (and a new blog category while I’m at it)

Back in my early/ier years, I read me a fair bit of Howard Pyle. I liked him. He knew how to make his historical fiction resonate (with me), and when he spun fantasy, he was always able to create scenes that absolutely demanded N.C. Wyeth illustrations. He did his own illustrations, and I liked them, but Wyeth would have been better. Which is no knock to Pyle. He was (after all) directly responsible for training Wyeth’s narrative and illustrative sensibilities, so it makes sense that the boyhood me always wanted to see Wyeth incarnate Pyle’s words.

But I’ve wandered. Back to the point. I liked Pyle. He was a friend. So when Random House asked me to write the introduction for Pyle’s collection of short fantasies Read the rest of this entry »