Karl and Daisy Review: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

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Avast and ahoy!

I’m sure you – lover of literature that you are, dear reader – have been eagerly anticipating the premiere of the upcoming film adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. All of us at Bookmarks certainly have, no matter what our species or galaxy of origin. On Sunday, February 18, Bookmarks will be hosting an event to celebrate that landmark work of literature.

Indeed, A Wrinkle in Time has so many fans here at Bookmarks that we could not settle on which of us ought to review it. Though Daisy customarily handles the science fiction and fantasy reviews, I consider the work to be especially suited to the kraken aesthetic. We have decided, therefore, not to assign the task to either one of us, but to present our review as a dialogue.

We recorded the following discussion over a snack of sandwiches and cocoa, while the wind howled threateningly outside…

Daisy: I am absolutely thrilled to be discussing A Wrinkle in Time, one of my favorite novels. I’ve loved it ever since I read it as a hatchling, and it improves with every re-reading as I’ve come to appreciate the science and symbolism of it. But you read it much more recently, didn’t you, Karl?

Karl: Yes, I read it mere months ago – on your own recommendation, of course – while I was trying to familiarize myself with the human children’s fiction tradition.

Daisy: I often wish I could read it again with new eyes and experience for the first time. So I’d love to know what your immediate reaction was when you first read it.

Karl: Oh, I was quite impressed by it. But I think it possible that you may, by no fault of your own save that of over enthusiasm, which I consider no fault at all, my dear dragon, have raised my expectations unduly. 

Daisy: Oh? How so?

Karl: When you first thrust it into my tentacle and told me I must read it at once, you claimed it was ahead of its time in its integration of complex issues into children’s literature and its visionary scientific concepts.

Daisy: Yes, and?

Karl: I am sure it is merely a consequence of species differences. For though I found the work to be delightful and fascinating, it seemed to me perfectly consistent with the conventions of kraken literature. For instance, the concept of a fifth dimension is nothing extraordinary to anyone trained in traditional krakonian physics, which has long recognized the existence of at least eight dimensions. 

Daisy: Rien n’est nouveau sous le soleil, même quand il n’y a pas de soleil. Ionesco. “There’s nothing new under the sun, even if there’s no sun.” 

Karl: As in the deep sea.

Daisy: Or outer space. But surely there must have been something new to you in such an imaginative and innovative work as this? What about the strange and intriguing alien societies that L’Engle depicts so skillfully?

Karl: Such as Ixchel, you mean?

Daisy: Exactly!

Karl: I’m afraid I find nothing odd or extraordinary about fuzzy tentacled creatures who are nurturing towards children and somewhat baffled by human society.

Daisy: But surely krakens don’t speak through their tentacles, do they?

Karl (through his tentacles): “There are more things on land and sea, my dear dragon, than are dreamt of in your science fiction.”

Daisy: Shakespeare?

Karl: An old kraken saying. You know, the character of Aunt Beast is very reminiscent of my own aunt Kendra the Kraken… But don’t get the wrong impression – I never meant to claim that the book was unoriginal. Merely that what it presents as wonders and impossibilities are only so to the human mind. It is a testament to this book’s complexity that even if it does not impress the reader with its strangeness, it remains a delightful coming-of-age novel and exploration of grand philosophical ideas.

Daisy: Very true. The thing I love most about A Wrinkle in Time is how it grapples with the problem of evil. It is a wonderful celebration of the human spirit. – Human in the largest possible sense, of course. It is very inclusive, I think, of other species. Aunt Beast, for instance, and the three star-beings.

Karl: And one must not forget Fortinbras the dog.

Daisy: I am eager to see how Fortinbras is cast in the movie. The part is so small in the book, but with the right actor the character could really come to life onscreen.

[The conversation was unfortunately broken off here, as Karl took a bite of his sandwich and was inexplicably transported across five dimensions to a planet in a distant spiral galaxy, the inhabitants of which resembled long-eared hedgehogs and lived in a benevolent thalassocracy. Karl was able to negotiate with their elders for transport back to earth, which took about a week, but, factoring in warps in the spacetime continuum due to an unexpected scone shortage on the planet Dumuzi, was only about five minutes from the perspective of earth.]

Karl (upon returning): My apologies for the interruption. Now where were we?

Daisy: You were almost finished with your sandwich.

Karl (finishing his sandwich): “Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral.” Brecht. “Feeding comes first, then comes the moral.”

Daisy: What is the moral?

Karl: That one must always consider the possibility of interdimensional travel, especially when having a snack. Also that great literature is best discussed on dark and stormy nights in the company of mythological creatures.

Daisy: May I add another moral?

Karl: Moralize ahead, dear dragon.

Daisy: “Plus de tentacles qu’on possède, plus de savoir littéraire qu’on peut offrir.” Albert Camus.

Karl: An excellent quote, though I cannot recall reading it in any of his works.

Daisy: Oh, no, this was from personal correspondence.

 

 

 

 

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The Kraken Book Club

 

 

Avast and ahoy!

If, as I hope, you have been following Bookmarks’s calendar of events carefully, you will have noticed the algal proliferation of book club meetings that the Bookmarks bookstore is hosting. So various are the themes of these clubs and so well-chosen their selections, that no creature in the Winston-Salem area need despair for lack of reliable reading recommendations or companionable bibliophiles with whom to discuss them.

Yet you may hesitate, and who should blame you, dear reader? For it is always a distressing thing to take a stranger’s literary recommendations on faith, and to commit to reading and, month after month, conversing with a convention of cephalopods whose literary opinions may or may not be as impeccable as one’s own. For who would bear to listen on so regular a basis to the prattling of prawns, the chattering of characins, and the lugubrious laments of the lonely lobster, while he attempts in vain to turn the tide of the conversation to the book he has so looked forward to discussing? And who could spare the time in her busy schedule of blog posts, novel writing, and analyzing the idiosyncrasies of the human race to read each month the latest installment of Mr. Mollusk’s favorite mystery series or some vain jellyfish’s transparently autobiographical novel?

Or, even if you have not been discouraged by the dysfunctions of book clubs long since disbanded, you may say simply that you have no need of a book club. As a reader of impeccable good taste, sensitive to every subtlety of style and symbolism, you can carry on a conversation with your own discerning self as well as any arbitrary assortment of creatures could!

Allow me to use an illustration from my aquatic experiences back in the Kraken Cove. I, too, long supposed that I needed no company in reading, but was fully able to form opinions of my own without the aid of a bunch of piscine poseurs. I was, however, persuaded to enroll in such a society by my good friend Simonides the Squid. Reluctantly did I present myself at the first meeting of the Aquarian Grammarians Club, and even then only because of my love of the book we were to discuss, and the hope that I might improve the the minds of the other members.

It shook me to the very cephalic cavities to find that not only were these creatures genuine bibliophiles, but my intellectual equals! In fact, I learned far more in that book club than I did in all my years at Kraken College. I can remember even now the most stimulating of our conversations, word for word, for they have imprinted themselves upon my memory deeper with every recollection, by an edifying process of erosion. I remember how we discussed the pivotal moment of A Sojourn in the Shallows. I had been inclined to give our protagonist the benefit of the doubt, whereas my dear friend Terence the Turtle pointed to the deliberate ambiguity in the text and raised the possibility that the shipwreck could have been more intentional than accidental. I never would have dared entertain that possibility, but so persuasive were my carapaced comrade’s arguments that I was forced to see the whole book in a new light.

Another example: when we had read Jean-Francois Calmar’s book of poetry in translation, Helga the Hammerhead, who knew something of the Franco-Krakonic dialect, was able to explain the subtleties of the original to the rest of us, thus greatly enhancing our appreciation of the work. Similarly, when we took a dip into the waters of Deep Sea literature, Simonides called upon an anglerfish acquaintance to speak to us on the misunderstood peculiarities of aphotic culture.

I hope these illustrations are enough to impress upon you, my dear reader, the unexpected benefits of joining a book club. For though solitary reading is both enjoyable and enlightening, you will surely find that reading in the company of others can open your mind to a vast ocean of new perspectives. I therefore highly recommend that you look through Bookmarks’s events calendar to find the book club that interests you, and to waste no time in diving into the recommended readings and discussions. I am sure you will find it a refreshing plunge.

Yours most sincerely,

Karl the Kraken

 

 

The Dragon Reviews: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

24763621Hello all!

Daisy the Dragon here. On Tuesday, February 6, Bookmarks will be hosting the book launch for S. Jae-Jones’s Shadowsong, the sequel to the acclaimed Wintersong. If you have not read the first installment yet, I suggest you drop everything in your talons and fly straightaway to Bookmarks to buy it. If you enjoy fantasy, romance, Germanic folklore, music, or simply beautifully written books, then you will love Wintersong.

This is a book that will lure you in and keep you in its thrall from page one to the very end. It will linger with you long after you have finished, like the tune of an unfinished sonata echoing through an underground grotto. To open its cover is to sink into a world of shadow and mystery where darkness lurks around every labyrinthine twist and turn.

But do not turn your head and push away this book if you are among those dragons who fear
the dark and avoid making their nests in caves, preferring the airy brightness of the mountaintop or the window-lit back section of a nonprofit bookstore. Do not say, ‘Why, this book is not for me!’ because you fear it will depress your natural good spirits, cause your tail to droop, or wipe the winning smile from your snout. This book, though dark, is never gloomy, and though it breaks the heart, it mends the soul.

It is, above all, the story of a young woman’s recognition of her own talents. Our heroine,  Elisabeth Vogler, is a brilliant musical composer, yet her low birth and her gender have kept her from matching her skill with ambition. The reader need not be an innkeeper’s daughter in turn-of-the-nineteenth-century Bavaria to understand how great artistic genius can often go unrecognized. How many young dragons, driven by an urge to write sprawling fantasy epics with cleverly alliterated character names, are nevertheless forced by their parents to attend Dragon Academy, where they idle away the day honing their fire-breathing and treasure-hoarding skills, rather than the creative writing program at the Fangorn Institute for Reptilian Education where, if it had been up to them, they would have gone, and where they might have learned to refine their prose and not write sentences that run as long as the tail of a Senegalese Snagtooth? But I must not linger on those painful memories…

Suffice to say, I connected immediately with Elisabeth and followed her complex emotional journey through the novel as if it were my own. I will refrain from spoiling its ending, but I will say that I look forward to watching Elisabeth’s growth as an artist and her command of her own talents develop further in the sequel.

Of course, Elisabeth is not the only character whose tale of self-discovery cannot fail to capture the hearts and minds of readers. The handsome and charismatic Goblin King first appears cloaked (literally and figuratively) in mystery, but turns out to contain multitudes. At various points he plays villain, hero, trickster, lover, martyr, and muse. I must not give away too much of the mystery, but I must praise the way his character twines together such contradictory strands of the mortal and the mythical. Even after four hundred pages, the reader feels she has much to learn about this man (if man he be), but that she would undoubtedly accept his invitation to a Goblin Ball, especially if strawberries and chocolate torte were to be served.

All in all, I found Wintersong to be a magnificent novel, and I would gladly sacrifice my sister and my life’s work to guarantee the swift arrival of its sequel.

Yours truly,

Daisy the Dragon

 

The Kraken Responds (1-12-2018)

Avast and ahoy!

As promised, Daisy and I are beginning the year by answering some readers’ questions and queries, especially those from fellow mythological creatures. Without further ado, here are some of the letters we’ve received:

 

Dear Karl,

Love your blog! I too am a young kraken with literary inclinations (though I would not venture to say that my literary taste is as impeccable as yours), and I greatly appreciate how you’ve given voice to the aquatic literary community. I am considering coming ashore to try my tentacle at working at a mainland bookstore, but I’m a little apprehensive towards the idea of launching myself into human culture with little prior experience of the species. Are there any books you would recommend that might give me insight into the thought and customs of homo sapiens?

Yours sincerely,

Katie the Kraken

 

Avast and ahoy there, Katie!

I am overjoyed to hear that I have fans in the kraken community, and that my blog has proved an inspiration to the next generation of mythological cephalopods. If indeed you do choose to move inland, I am sure there will be a period of adjustment in which you will feel quite bewildered by humanity in all its bipedal confusion. However, I have grown to have a great admiration for the species, regardless of its faults.

If you are looking for some good entry points into human literature, I would suggest some of the classics that have strong aquatic themes. For instance, Homer’s Odyssey and Shakespeare’s The Tempest, both of which are standard reading in the human education system. It would, however, be ill-advised for you to take current bestsellers as accurate portrayals of human behavior. The wildly popular Harry Potter series, though delightful, will give you all sorts of misinformation about the norms of human society. (After finishing the series I searched in vain at all the local grocery stores for butterbeer, pumpkin juice, and chocolate frogs, and my attempts to make small talk about the latest quidditch scores were met with puzzled looks.)

As for literature that accurately portrays the essence of human nature, I believe most of the classics point either to the capacity for self-delusion or to a certain hubristic tendency as the defining features of the species . However, after about a year of close observation, I have found that neither of these compares in importance to the human tendency to care deeply and work tirelessly for things that give them no reward.

9780143131618This is especially evident in humanity’s relationship to its cats. If you have had no prior experience with cats, let me warn you, they are the most egotistical and temperamental of land animals. Humans will tell you that they have “domesticated” the cat over thousands of years, but in fact they have done nothing but spoil the beasts. And yet humanity continues to be so utterly fascinated with cats that they enter willingly into servitude for them, and the World Wide Web, the primary tool for global communication, has been overrun by videos of felines. I think the book Total Cat Mojo by one Jackson Galaxy may be the best encapsulation of human nature that I have yet read, for it reflects the absurd lengths to which humans will go to maintain good relations with their cats.

51-YrSXi95LAnother book that accurately portrays how humans will lovingly engage in the most Sisyphean of tasks is Karel Čapek’s The Gardener’s Year. This work is nearly ninety years old, but it has been republished in a series on gardening by the Modern Library, a human publishing house. Here, in prose and pictures, one can see the care and energy that humans will invest in their gardens, even though the seasonal changes are as dramatic on dry land as they are in the ocean and will dry the soil, freeze the newly grown tendrils, and scorch the gardener’s upturned backside. Not only will Čapek help you understand this key element of human nature, but will help you appreciate its true beauty, however ridiculous it may appear at first.

All the best of luck!

Yours sincerely,

Karl the Kraken

***

Dear Daisy,

I have been a big fan of your writing ever since the first Fiona the Fire-Breather book came out. I was thrilled to hear that you were working on a new series with The Queens of Dragoria, but I know it may not be published for a while. Are there any similar books you would recommend to keep me entertained while I wait for yours to come out?

Thank you! 

Selina the Salamander

 

Dear Selina,

Thank you for the lovely note. I always love hearing from my adoring fans!

Unfortunately, I’ve hit another snag in the Queens of Dragoria writing process. My editor sent back my draft of the ninth through sixteenth chapters and pointed out that on page 550 I reveal that the Prince Regent of the Mountain Kingdom was married to the second cousin of Morlog the Magnificent. But on page 331 and again on page 415, I did not mention that the coat of arms of Manetho, exiled duke of the Mountain of Mysterious Megafauna, included a guilloche motif, which would indicate intermarriage between his uncle and a member of the imperial court. So either I have to spoil the surprise of the Prince’s relation to Morlog, or I have to come up with some reason why Manetho did not include a guilloche on his standard.

Such are the trials and tribulations of authorship.

darkershademagic_comp.jpgBut anyway, to answer your question: it can be difficult to find books in human stores that appeal to a dragonian sensibility, but if you look hard enough you’ll find them. V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series is a good example of the dragonian style in human fiction, as it features portals to alternate dimensions and wannabe pirates, both of which are common tropes in dragon literature. If you enjoy the dynastic intrigues of The Queens of Dragoria, you may wish to read some history. One of the finest works of historiography that I have read recently is Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, which gives a much fuller picture of the Napoleonic wars than most human accounts.

Happy reading!

Yours,

Daisy the Dragon

 

 

 

The Year in Review and a Reader’s Resolutions

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The Kraken’s Calendar

Avast and ahoy!

2017 has truly been a year of oceanic proportions, both for Bookmarks and for yours truly. It seems hard to believe that the Bookmarks bookstore has been open for scarcely six months. The place has become so much a home to me that I have a hard time imagining my life without it.

And yet, when I washed unwittingly into this year back in January, I had no idea I would have the honor of becoming Kraken-in-Residence for such an esteemed institution. At that time I was thoughtlessly idling away my hours in the old Kraken Cove, reading for pleasure when I could, but otherwise letting the currents of fortune take me where they wished. I had given up hope of any career that could suit my literary talents, for neither my attempt at running my own aquatic bookstore nor my weekly newsletter of poetry and criticism (titled The Literary Leviathan) had lasted more than a few months. I was coming to realize that the marine literary establishment had little room for a new and original voice such as my own.

It was by chance that I heard of a new bookstore opening some ways inland, and at first I did not even consider that I, a creature of the deep sea, could be eligible for a position at such an place. But eventually my old school friend Harold the Hippocamp convinced me, over a meal of seaweed salad and algae alla carbonara, that I should apply for a position there. After all, what else did I have to do with my time but  reorganize the shelves in my grotto and watch reruns of Ponds and Sedimentation?

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July: The Bookstore Opens

My relocation and new employment at Bookmarks not only gave me opportunities to review, meet, and converse with some of the most talented authors on terra firma; it also brought me back into contact with my old friend Daisy the Dragon, whose advice sent me on a fantastical journey such as I could scarce have dreamt of at the year’s beginning. This past year has been a great adventure for me, and I cannot wait to see what new delights the next will bring!

But I must not waste your precious screen space wallowing in the past year’s achievements, basking in the refracted light of the literary luminaries, diving into the crevices of memory, thence to extract the gleaming ores thrown up by benthic vents, and floating in the cool embracing tide left by the old year’s receding storms. No, I must not swim in the manner of an electric eel – that is to say, facing backwards – but must move on with all the steady surety of a shark. And so let us leave off reminiscences of what has been and look now to the future, to make resolutions for the year to come.

For as Daisy has reminded me (in the midst of DragoNaNoWriMo, when she was short on patience and liable to give unsolicited criticism), it is very easy to go on blogging about this or that famous author one has met at such-and-such an event, but one runs the risk of becoming egotistical. This blog is more than a place to boast my own literary taste, impeccable though it undoubtedly is. Its central mission, like that of Bookmarks itself, is to connect readers to books.

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September: The Festival

My and Daisy’s first resolution for 2018 is to publish replies to our readers’ queries every other week or so, for the benefit of any book-loving beasts who find themselves befuddled when confronted with the Bookmarks store’s enormous stock. Following the mythological community’s outpouring of gratitude for our most recent post, which gave gift recommendations for a variety of legendary creatures, Daisy and I have decided that we ought to make a regular habit of giving personalized recommendations on the blog. Daisy has begun spreading the word among her dragon friends, and we are already starting to receive a flood of mail from our reptilian readers. Even if you are human or from some other non-mythological species, we welcome your requests for book recommendations. You can always contact both of us at bookmarkskraken@gmail.com.

The second of my resolutions is a more personal one. Since coming ashore this summer, I have been trying as quickly as I can to acquaint myself with the highlights of the human literary canon. Though I have worked my way through a number of the classics and made some forays into the world of contemporary fiction, I still find that there are significant gaps in my knowledge of human literature. I have resolved in 2018 to push the boundaries of this limited knowledge, to read far and wide outside my comfortable cove of novels with aquatic themes. I hope to review some of what I read on this blog, in the hopes that certain of my readers will be interested in hearing my uniquely pelagic perspectives.

 

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October: Story Time

I hope that you, too, my gentle readers, will resolve to read widely and bravely in the new year. Just think how many books now lying unopened on your bedside table will in twelve months be like old friends, their spines bent, their pages thumbed and smoothed. And that is not even counting the fantastic and fascinating books yet to be discovered or published or written in the months to come. Imagine now how many secrets and surprises you will have discovered in the next three hundred-some days of reading! It is enough to make one’s tentacles tremble with excitement.

Here’s to a bright and book-filled new year!

Yours sincerely,

Karl the Kraken

Gift Recommendations for Every Species!

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Avast and ahoy!

With the holiday season upon us, it is customary for humans to rush out to their local bookstore this weekend to buy gifts for family and friends; it is also customary for bloggers to offer their recommendations. In a cursory search of the available gift lists, I was able to find suggestions for every age, gender, occupation, and interest. Conspicuously lacking, however, were recommendations for friends of the mythological variety.

Daisy and I have set out to remedy this situation. We have divided the list of legendary creatures between ourselves, each focusing on those species with which we are, respectively, most familiar. Accordingly, I have taken mainly aquatic animals and Daisy mostly terrestrial ones. For each species, we have offered one or two suggestions of books both old and new.

I hope many of you will find this guide useful when shopping for your fantastical friends this year! Feel free to send in your own recommendations, if you have a close familiarity with some type of mythological creature we did not cover.

Here are our recommendations:

fullsizeoutput_e7aKraken – Because krakens are highly literary animals by nature, we will likely appreciate any book you give us. Krakens are sure to love Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four Hour Bookstore and Sourdough, given our passions for both independent bookstores and bakeries. – Karl

Dragon – Dragons are naturally drawn to epic fantasy novels. But since The Queens of Dragoria is not set to be published until next year – and may not be available in human stores for some time after that – I suggest that you give your dragon the British Library’s Harry Potter: A Journey through A History of Magic, the catalogue to the exhibition of the same name. And of course, dragons young and old will love Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. – Daisy

Sea Serpent – Sea serpents are, like krakens, lovers of literary fiction. For something immersive and moving, you might consider giving your sea serpent friend nobel prize-winner Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go or Ali Smith’s How to Be Both. – Karl

Griffin – Griffins are ancient creatures who have watched humanity from a lofty distance through the centuries. Griffins should love Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, as they find reading about human history extremely amusing. – DaisyIMG_5424

Selkie – Though you will find selkies basking on Florida beaches and in the south of France, deep down they are forever pining for their ancestral homeland of Scotland. Any book by Diana Gabaldon is perfect for a selkie. If they have already begun the Outlander series, you need only give them the next book they haven’t read. – Karl

Sphinx – Sphinxes prefer to be left alone and will tell unsolvable riddles just to get you to go away. Help them through the holiday parties with Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. Jessamyn Stanley’s Every Body Yoga may also help them relax after so much socializing. – Daisy

Merpeople – Merpeople are pretentious animals who like to think themselves the intellectual elites of the ocean. Give them the unabridged Tale of Genji, which should divert them long enough for you to avoid a conversation with them. – Karl

Phoenix – Phoenixes are wonderful friends, always full of brilliant ideas and bursting with creative energy. They burn out easily, however, so that they don’t finish anything and become discouraged. They should read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Leonardo da Vinci – who was infamous for never finishing his ambitious project – for consolation and inspiration. – Daisy

Gargoyle – Gargoyles are great epicureans, which is why so many of them choose to live in France. Deb Perlman’s Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is sure to go over well. – Daisy

IMG_5516Messenger Pigeon – Though they are not strictly speaking mythological, messenger pigeons are very helpful and important animals, and one should always make a great effort to make one’s messenger pigeon feel appreciated. A faithful pigeon, after all, can mean the success or failure of an epic literary quest. Yet they are hard to shop for, as they have usually already read the most recent titles and somehow managed to get advance copies of upcoming ones! I have instead commissioned a special new birdhouse for my own pigeon, Cecilia, in the shape of the Bookmarks store itself. I’m sure she will find it to be a suitable home for her private library. – Karl

Happy holidays, dear readers, and pleasant shopping!

Yours festively,

Karl and Daisy

 

The Kraken in Winter

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Avast and ahoy!

Snow is among the weather conditions to which we krakens, being creatures of the deep sea, are entirely unaccustomed. Before this weekend, I had seen snow only once before while visiting my great aunt Karmen, who lives near Antarctica. Kraken literature is likewise lacking in boreal imagery, which meant that I had to turn to Daisy for recommendations of books most suited to snowy days.

Now usually I find my dragon friend’s literary advice every bit as impeccable as my own. But in this case, her recommendations missed the mark. She has a taste for fantasy novels, as you may know if you have read her DragoNaNoWriMo contributions, and so it was understandable that she would have given me to read two of the most popular works of that genre. But though she intended nothing but diversion and entertainment, her selections brought me nothing but anxiety.

The first one seemed quite promising, as its cover indicated that it took place in a land of snow and mythological creatures. But this snow, I discovered, was the work of a villainous tyrant who used an endless winter to oppress the poor, innocent beasts of the land. Why, looking out the window, the sight of snow that I had considered beautiful now seemed a desolate and depressing. I opened the next book, hoping that it would brighten my mood. But here the approach of winter seemed to be an occasion for dire warnings and dynastic conflict.

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I returned to Daisy and voiced my distress at the books she had given me.

She looked a little bemused and told me, “But those are only books! Winter in the real world only lasts a few months, and it’s certainly nothing to be frightened of. There are other stories that delight in winter weather. Many children’s books portray snow as the most desirable form of precipitation there is! And anyway, just because it’s snowing outside doesn’t mean you have to read only about winter. You can read anything on a snow day! It just has to keep you entertained through the long hours you spend indoors sipping hot tea.”

SnowyDayKeats

This came as a revelation to me. I soon had amassed a towering pile of tomes from every genre and corner of the bookstore. I sat down with Daisy by the window and began to read, while she watched snowflakes continue to fall past the window. By the time darkness fell outside, I had made my way through several hundred pages and counting. I understood what Daisy had meant when she’d extolled the pleasures of snow day reading.

Here are a few of the works I read, with my own personal ratings:

  • Beowulf – Appeared gratifyingly aquatic at first, but turned out to be very biased against sea monsters of all varieties. A product of its times, I suppose. Nevertheless, a good story. Four tentacles.

 

  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt – Appealed to my love of the classics. Not good reading for a snow day, however, as it makes one realize how easily a murderer could hide a body in such weather. Five tentacles.

 

  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen – An excellent novel! The only thing that could have made it better would have been more kraken characters. Perhaps someone ought to write a revised version with sea monsters. Seven tentacles.

 

  • The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg – Perfect for a snow day. Daisy tells me she has ridden on the book’s titular steam engine, and says that the hot chocolate was every bit as good as its description suggests. Eight tentacles.

 

  • Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie – I have been a great fan of Hercule Poirot ever since I was introduced to his adventures shortly after coming on land. The setting of this particular book was slightly too dry for my taste. Six tentacles.

 

  • The Winters Tale by William Shakespeare – Deceptively titled. Much of the play takes place in springtime. Three tentacles.

 

  • The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – One of the most accurate portrayals of dolphins ever written by a human. Forty-two tentacles.

As winter has barely begun, it looks like we have more days of snow reading to look forward to this season. I welcome any recommendations, and hope that you, dear readers, will take advantage of the warmth of the Bookmarks bookstore as the air outside grows ever colder.

With wintry wishes,

Karl the Kraken