Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fictioneering: Introduction

I have been a book-lover for as long as I can remember. My big brother taught me to read when I was three, and I've had a book on the go ever since. In five years of prep school, my one and only “blob” (our punishment system – the opposite of a housepoint) was for reading a book in art class instead of helping to build the paper-maché volcano. In high school, my English teacher used to tease me about my shenanigans “behind the bike sheds with Horace” after he caught me reading Horace under the table. (I must be the only kid in the history of schools to get told off for reading poetry in an English class.) Book Mountain is the name I give to the piles of to-be-read books that accumulate on my floor once all the shelves are full.

I really, really love books.

It is un peu pretentious, peut-être bien sûr, but I like to consider myself a “fictioneer”. The fictioneer loves stories above all else in this world, reading and writing them obsessively, and living right inside fictional worlds, both of eir own creation and of others'. If you ask the fictioneer eir favorite book, you will get a breathless recommendation of dozens of titles and authors, and that won't be close to comprehensive.

But I think that every fictioneer can point to a number of books that are especially meaningful to em: the stories we read and reread in childhood and adolescence, lovingly revisiting them until the pages were tattered and the words imprinted in our memories. To a degree, these are the books that make us fictioneers, that shape our psyches and form the people we become. In this series I will be exploring a number of the books that are most intimately entwined with who I am.

These are not just the books that were special to me as a child. These are not just books that I read and reread (and reread and reread). These are not just books that made me weep, laugh, and gasp; these are not just books that played a crucial role in my psychological development. (There's no numbering the books that meet all of these criteria.)

These are the books that made me want to climb inside them and spend my life there. It's certainly no judgment on the books that don't qualify – Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is one of my all-time favorite books, but who wants to live in 1930s Mississippi? – and maybe I'll write about some of them another time; but this is the story of the books that consumed my dreams.

Last time I ran a series on this blog, I confined it to a single week. I think that was a mistake, because fatigue set in: the final piece shows a noticeable decline in quality and coherence of thought. So this series will be spread out, interspersed with regular posts. This also means there's no time limit and we can keep it going for as long as it goes. Yay!

Check back tomorrow for Fictioneering #1: It Looked Like Spilt Milk.

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