I’ve been thinking about the act of reading itself, how sometimes I long for it and need it, and I’ve been wondering why that is. In a way, it’s a sort of hunger. I’ve spoken about it previously on this blog, but I sort of think that reading is a form of addiction. It’s a never-ending search for the heartblow of perfection, delivered when you least expect it.
My highs? I remember them. My catalysts. My talismans. My addictions. The things that started me on this road.
The first ‘death-bed’ scene that made me fold, lose myself, and break down? Gay Lambert at the Chalet School. Here’s my review. EBD’s oeuvre is in one way based around the death-bed scene, but there’s something about the one in this book (spoilers sweetie) that gets me. Breaks me. Always.
The first panel that got me into comics? This. It’s from Note from the Underground and shows the moment after Buffy’s basically gone Super-Slayer and is experiencing an intervention from her Slayer sisters. The Wikipedia precis makes this sound like a hideous book, but it’s truly not. These panels are perfection; they take the Slayer stereotype, what Buffy’s been doing since the book began, and they flip it. Just like that. It’s elegant, simple, and delivers a whole level of redemption for Buffy herself. It’s beautiful.
1. S: “Welcome Back”
2. B: “I never really went anywhere-” S: “Didn’t you?” B: “Well, if you mean to the “angry place”, then I guess I did”
3. B: “You guys wanted me to chill, huh? We all learn – sooner or later – while we’re alive or after we’re dead … we all learn it’s not about slaying…”
4: B: “It’s about saving…”
The bit of writing that made me love Lorna Hill forever and forgive her all her rubbish later books? This. “I felt that she’d have been even more pleased with my arabesque could she have seen it today. The beauty all around me did something to me inside. I can’t describe what it was, but it made me want to turn my arabesque into something better than it had been before. I wanted to express in my dancing the lovely effect of the sunlight flickering through the trees in the wood, the delicate green of the larches, the grace of the foxgloves growing on the Roman Wall that marched side by side with the road just here.” A Dream of Sadlers Wells (1972:87)
The first stories that made me? Magic, myth, and history. I remember being sat on my dad’s lap, and listening to him read aloud Roger Lancelyn Green’s entire back catalogue. King Arthur and his knights, Odysseus of Troy, and Robin Hood. Learning my stories, my myths and your legends, grounded me and gave me roots. It pushed me onto Robin Jarvis and his awesome Wyrd Museum, it pushed me to Adele Geras and her superb sagas of womanhood – Troy, Ithaka, Dido, it pushed me onto finding Richard the Lionheart’s tomb, and it pushed me to running round the city walls of York and seeing Saxons
So thanks. Thanks for getting me this far. Thanks for making me who I am, thanks for making me be able to chat about Noel Streatfield to complete strangers, to stand on the side of a lake in Austria and nerd out to immense levels, thank you for making me able to reccomend Alex T Smith to strangers, thank you for letting me stand in the bookshop and fall into discussions over the joy, the utter joy, of Herve Tullet.
Here’s to the high.