Man. I think what I’m discovering more than anything while reading through this collection is that I know very little about fantasy. I’ve mentioned before and I’ll mention again this week that I’m sure I would like more than a few of these stories better if I just had any idea what Gaiman was talking about. And that’s good, on the one hand, because it inspires me to go learn new things, but bad, on the other, because that doesn’t help me understand or appreciate the stories now! Alas.
I get this one! I totally know what’s going on here! This is a cute little poem-y story about stories, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” specifically, and the telling of them. Gaiman writes as himself, talking to his daughter about reading “Goldilocks” to her and how she would take part in the telling of the story and sometimes re-write the story, and that’s all cute and adorable. But then Gaiman also takes into account how it feels to be a parent reading the stories, and how there are always parts that read differently for adults (see: my reaction to Peter Pan earlier this year) and how it’s a bit sad to know that the adorable child will grow into a cynical adult who locks his doors to keep out strangers who might eat his porridge. This is definitely my favorite story of the week.
“The Problem of Susan”
And here is where I admit that my knowledge of the Narnia books comes mostly from the 2005 movie, which I didn’t pay terribly much attention to, and various references to the series in other things I’ve read. Which is to say that I don’t have any attachment toward Susan and so this story is entirely lost on me. What I gather is that Susan, who didn’t die in some train crash, has grown up to be a professor of literature, since retired. And she’s being interviewed about children’s literature by some young thing and Narnia comes up and that’s when I learned all that stuff about Susan, and then Susan gets sad or something and goes and has a nap forever. And the young thing has a dream about Aslan and the White Witch having the sexytimes and, um, okay. Ew. I’m not sure I want this one explained to me.
Props to the awesome poetry this week. I liked “Instructions” a lot because while I may not know a lot about fantasy stories past and present, I am certainly well-versed in fantasy conventions, and that’s what this poem is about. It is, as the title suggests, a set of instructions for what to do if you find yourself stuck in a fairy tale. Basically, don’t do anything stupid and be nice to everyone, which are not bad instructions in general. Also, there’s a cameo from my friends the months of the year, which is delightful.
“How Do You Think It Feels”
Um, yes. Least favorite story. Gargoyles. LOTS of sexytimes, including sort of with a plasticine gargoyle. Extra-marital affair(s?). Not my cup of tea. Things I did like: the reference to the narrator being “by far the older man” at 27 to his lady’s 20. The narrator getting totally shut down by his lady when he offers to actually finally leave his family for her. The lady getting eaten by the gargoyle. Can’t go wrong with people getting eaten, I say.