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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

In Anticipation of Jo Walton's Reading Tonight at Powell's, My Contextless Kindle Highlights from Among Others

Posted by Alison Hallett on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 2:29 PM

I don't use my Kindle too often, but it does have one function that's really handy for book reviewing: The ability to highlight and save passages while reading, and access them later online. Jo Walton's Among Others—a fantasy/coming-of-age novel about a girl who loves fantasy and science fiction—was one of my favorite books of last year; my review is here, but here's a sampling of some of the passages I highlighted while reading:

There’s no sex, hardly any love stuff at all, in Middle Earth, which always made me think yes, the world would be better off without it.

After the bookshop, I checked out the shelves in the junk shop and bought a couple of things there too. I had so many books I could hardly walk at this point, and of course my leg was terrible. It always is when it rains. I didn’t ask to have my good leg replaced by a creaky rusty weathervane, but then I suppose nobody does. I would have made much greater sacrifices. [...] I should think of it as a war-wound, an old soldier’s scars. Frodo lost a finger, and all his own possibility of happiness. Tolkien understood about the things that happen after the end. Because this is after the end, this is all the Scouring of the Shire, this is figuring out how to live in the time that wasn’t supposed to happen after the glorious last stand. I saved the world, or I think I did, and look, the world is still here, with sunsets and interlibrary loans. And it doesn’t care about me any more than the Shire cared about Frodo.

Carpenter says in the Inklings book that Lewis meant Aslan to be Jesus. I can sort of see it, but all the same it feels like a betrayal. It feels like allegory. No wonder Tolkien was cross. I’d have been cross too. I also feel tricked, because I didn’t notice all this time. Sometimes I’m so stupid—but Aslan was always so much himself. I don’t know what I think about Jesus, but I know what I think about Aslan.

Being left alone—and I am being left alone—isn’t quite as much what I wanted as I thought. Is this how people become evil? I don’t want to be.

Now imagine those passages read aloud in a Welsh accent. Walton's gonna be at the Cedar Hills Powell's tonight at 7 pm—I have lost some faith in Tri-Met in the last few days, but as long as the 20 doesn't fuck me over, I'm there. And if the buses do prove unamenable, there's an acceptable alternative at the downtown store: William Gibson is reading from his new collection of nonfiction at 7:30 pm.

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