’ve mentioned around the blogtorium that the book that really set my young mind off the rails and made me into the person I am today was HG Well’s War of the Worlds, reviewed and praised HERE. In a nutshell, it showed me that true literature can always tell new stories, that happy endings should not be assumed and conventions are meant to be dashed.
So this woman I work with, her ten year old son just won an “Odyssey of the Mind” contest at his school and will be advancing to state. And he was so committed to doing this that he did is while recovering from the flu. He was committed and he excelled – you gotta like that in a kid.
Now, I’m always hawking China Miéville – I just love his work. And I just finished (again) RailSea, reviewed and praised HERE. Loved it. And since this is a Miéville YA book (as opposed to everything else he writes, where to those suburban readers I say, “You can’t handle the type”). But yes, so I read RailSea with the same sense of wonder that I did WOTW. And then it came to me that this would make a really bitching gift.
Now, really, will he read it? Now? Probably not. Later? Maybe. It is a weird book and it starts strange as you can see below…
This is the story of a bloodstained boy.
There he stands, swaying as uteterly as any windblown sapling. He is quite, quite red. If only that were paint! Around each of his feet the red puddles; his clothes, whatever colour they were once, are now a thickening scarlet; his hair is stiff & drenched.
Only his eyes stand out. The white of each alomst glows against the gore, lightbulbs in a dark room. He stares with great fervour at nothing.
The situation is not as macabre as it sounds. The boy isn’t the only bloody person there: he’s surrounded by others as red & sodden as he. & they are cheerfully singing.
The boy is lost. Nothing has been solved. He thought it might be. He had hoped that this moment might bring clarity. Yet his head is still full of nothing, or he knows not what.
I’m asking a lot of our boy (I’m talking about young Krishang the student, not Shamus Yes ap Soorap the character) to take this on. As I said, most adults won’t (of course, I just saw that in my donated book table in the corporate break room, someone snatched up The Scar). So I’m hoping to rock his young world, to put into his mental-visual the idea of a dusty used-up world covered with rails and trains that hunt moles, ship cargo and even piracize. And who knows. Maybe it will take him out of Harry Potter and get him to explore other world, other authors. Or just books. Damn, I’d settle for just books.