Monday, March 10, 2008

Royal Fantasy

I just heard Porno for Pyros on NPR on my way home from book club.

I am willing to bet that sentence has never, in the history of ever, been said before.

I forgot how much I used to adore them. "We’ll Make Great Pets!" It was so deep. I remember thinking it was such a brilliantly dark idea, I contemplated it for days on end. Of course, this was during the phase in my life where I wore a lot of black turtlenecks and wrote poetry in BLACK INK while I cried about the tragedy that was suburban public school life. While snacking on brie.

It was a grueling time.

So I remember how awesome the ending was… I used to think it was a musical description of the downfall of humankind, of hope being dashed, over and over again while aliens put us into the human equivalent of ant farms. (Would that just be farms?)

Tonight it sounded more like a few plunky notes on a keyboard. I think I was deeper, then.

I remember the old feelings it conjured, though, the early 90s musical adaptation of the ache in my angsty, teenage heart. So Porno for Pyro, thanks. You got me through some hard, to-be-a-princess-or-a-goth-y-skater-chick? times. (If you don’t know how that battle turned out, see prior 692 blog entries. … also: title.)

Oddly enough, that kind of relates back to a discussion we had at our book group. We talked about how we can still read good books and appreciate them, but as adults, we don’t seem to be all-consumed by stories anymore, like we were as nerdy little bookish kids. We talked about how Madeleine L’Engle or C.S. Lewis (along with dozens of lesser authors) could totally entrap our imaginations and preoccupy our minds for days. We can read those same stories now, and get a delicious, fulfilling sensation from them, but not in the drunk-with-continuing-the-story-in-our-brains,-including-in-our-dreams, way.

I miss that. But as someone pointed out, we were, mostly, as kids, living in a pretty small world. As adults, we’ve seen a lot more of the world, both geographically and socially. We can live vicariously through our own lives, rather than through someone else’s written description. But I still miss that feeling I got from the Bobbsey Twins, or The Secret Garden. The total immersion in my own imagination and belief that those worlds were tangible. So I’m making a list, and going back to see if I can recapture even just a sliver of that. What was the last book you felt that way about?

12 comments:

Ramblin' Red said...

I saw someone reading my answer to that question today at my fave coffee/book shop: Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon....that whole series are the only books that have captured my heart as an adult in the way that the books of my youth did. Sadly...I haven't read for pleasure like that in a long time. My kids are no longer immobile, sleep happy infants. And I'm in school. And working. And....

I figure that by the time I retire I will once again be able to immerse myself in good literature.

Pauline said...

Give yourself another 40 years or so and you'll find yourself immersed again. It's a regression you can look forward to as your young adult dreams smack into the wall of old-age reality. Joanne Harris (author of Chocolat and a few other wonderful novels) can transport me in a mere few sentences.

I find non-fiction has the same power. I recently stayed up late to finish The Tree by Colin Tudge

Brendan Charles Huffman said...

I met you during those times! We both wore black turtlenecks and felt like our emotions were the most important in the world.

Christie said...

I know what you mean. But you know, I felt like a kid again when I read the Harry Potter series. I was excited to read them, and could envision the scenes in my head like I did when I was younger.

Angela said...

I have to agree that Harry Potter has captured my imagination more than any other book in the past few years. I mocked it mercilessly until the first movie came out and my sister dragged me to see it. From there I started reading the books and I was instantly hooked!

Also, I just started reading Vanity Fair, and I LOVE it. I find myself thinking about it even when I'm not reading it, and I go to bed early just so I can get a couple chapters in before I fall asleep.

Princess of the Universe said...

I do get immersed in my Jane Austen Books - but on the whole I think it mostly happens when I re-read my children's stories...
A Little Princess, Heidi, A Wrinkle in Time (That one still haunts me) The Watcher in the Woods...

Princess in Galoshes said...

Red- I've never read Outlander, I may have to pick that one up!

Pauline- I'm suddenly o.k. with getting older. Thanks!

Brendan- You did. You knew me at the very beginning of it, actually. I'm really surprised you're still willing to talk to me.

Christie- Harry Potter is good. But it wasn't "magical" for me, like books used to be when I was a kid. It sure seems like it was for the next generation, though!

Angela- I've never read Vanity Fair! Perhaps I shall add that to my list, as well.

Princess- I read all of those except The Watcher in the Woods, what was that one about?

Diane said...

I agree about Harry Potter, and also have found that same feeling to some extent with some historical fiction. I just finished Ken Follett's World Without End, and also enjoyed The Innocent Traitor about Lady Jane Grey.

Lily said...

Being all dark and broody has it's charms. Alright, I never actually went trough a black turtleneck and brie phase, and I shamefully have no clue what that Porno for Pyro is...but I did spend a few months (in highschool)feeling super persecuted and moody, and attempting to write weird poetry ala Tori Amos and Alanis Morissette. I even kept them mostly to laugh at my teenage self.

But being a princess is SO much fun. It's the right choice, I think. I'm slowly inching my way towards princess-hood me think. I bought more pink stuff in the last weekds then ever in my life. (I still love me some weirds singers though. A small part of me will always be a misfit loner, and that loner loves Bjork and Tori.)

Anonymous said...

Being the mother of an 11 yr old girl, I get to experience all the wonders of youthful reading again. She just finished the Secret Garden. I forgot how much I loved that book. As for me, it's the
SE Hinton novels, especially The Outsiders. I still have my ragged copy purchased 25 years ago. Everytime I re-read it, it takes me back. I really learned to appreciate my middle class upbringing after reading her books.
P.S. I'm anonymous because I don't know how to get a Google "identity"

Anonymous said...

Lois Duncan's young-adult suspense books. I just re-read one the other night, as a matter of fact. :) Thanks for writing about a feeling I have had many times myself. I second Pauline's opinion that non-fiction can have the same effect. Try The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean, for example.

Princess in Galoshes said...

Anon- Thanks for all the tips! I will definitely look into those books, too. I think I've heard of the Orchid Theif, before, maybe now is the time to finally sit down and read it.