Monday, March 15, 2010

The Brothers Grossman

In English 11, we bracketed our study of transcendentalism and Into the Wild with two choice books. For each, we went to the library and chose books from a cart that one of our librarians was nice enough to put together for me. For the first, I read Lev Grossman's The Magicians, which has some fantastic moments and is absolutely worth reading. It's a lot of fun watching Grossman simultaneously celebrate and deconstruct both fantasy and coming-of-age-private-school literature. Plus, it has this passage:

“If there’s a single lesson that life teaches us, it’s that wishing doesn’t make it so. Words and thoughts don’t change anything. Language and reality are kept strictly apart – reality is tough, unyielding stuff, and it doesn’t care what you think or feel or say about it. Or it shouldn’t. You deal with it, and you get on with your life.”

Not bad, huh? It's even better in the context of the novel's consideration of just what kind of life fantasy literature (of the "kids find fantasy world that's kind of like ours but has kings and queens and talking animals and treasure and torches" sort) leads us to expect.

For the second, I read Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible, which engages in its own act of celebration and gentle mockery, in this case of superhero comics. It's funnier, but maybe ultimately a little less satisfying than his brother's The Magicians.

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