I’m told that professionals, when recording on the road, in a hotel room, away from the studio, will climb into bed and pull a blanket up over themselves, to cut down on ambient noise, I suppose; but I didn’t hear that until after, which is maybe why the audio’s not so great on my end—well, that, and my habit of speakingquiterapidlytillthemomentIsuddenly, uh—
—pause. And the swerve. —But! Jonah Sutton-Morse, proprietor of Cabbages & Kings, invited me over (in part, I believe, based on this old post) to talk about reading, and genre, and reading genre to our kids, and it was a blast: he’s a gracious and a generous host, and he keeps it moving in his finished pieces, and somehow even focussed—despite the material I gave him to work with!
So go, have a listen. —Jonah assembled a slideshow of book covers, a partial list of the titles we discussed, and it skews young, which is to be expected given our focus and purpose, but there’s another skew I wanted to note, here, at least: it’s rather almost entirely pale. —And that’s understandable, I suppose, given our purpose and our focus, and who I was and what I read when I was young, but the very fact I’m saying it’s understandable is telling enough, isn’t it? Or the itch I feel to soothingly point out that it’s a list of things I have read, not a list of recommendations to read, though I don’t not recommend them, or not all of them, anyway, and it is what it was, which is awkward, which it should be, which is useless, which leaves me, what?
(There are moves I could make. Other lists to itemize. But.)
—A footnote, though: one of the last books we talk about was one of the first that ever made an impression on me, in the way that books can, even though I only ever saw a school library copy, and then not ever again for years afterward, forgetting the title, the author, the illustrator, the names of the characters, most of the plot, but not—that thing? Whatever it is, that’s useful to us in a story, when all the rest is worn away? —Once Taran was old enough, I took those bones of a memory and went looking for the book, which it turns out is something the internet’s pretty good at.
Something Queer is Going On. How (further) disappointed I am in myself, that I might’ve forgotten a title like that! —There was something of a disorienting madeleine-moment, opening the envelope, seeing a lost memory restored and reified with one rather swell foop of that vanilla-ish old-book smell, but more dizzying was opening up those worn boards (the front cover has since fallen off, and been taped) and reading it aloud, feeling the ghosts of the word-memories under what I was hearing my mouth speak, but above all having the two main characters restored: Jill, whose mother is “O.K.”, and Gwen, with her habit of tapping her braces when she’s thinking, and their friendship, which—and there’s nothing that revolutionary about it, it’s not like this was the only or first time it’d ever been done, but still: how shiveringly odd to hold in my hands the first time I’d ever so long ago met the archetypes I’d later lean on, when I started to write about Ysabel, and Jo.