Alan Garner: C or D?

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I named my website after one of his books OBVIOUSLY, and I'm rather surprised we've never had a thread on him.

Did he peak with the early fantasies? Or was "Red Shift" not only his masterpiece but *the* masterpiece of the 1970s, the encapsulation of that decade's doubts and nerves?

I say the latter, naturally

robin carmody (robin carmody), Saturday, 23 November 2002 15:04 (nineteen years ago) link

absolute genius. i'm just about to start "strandloper" with much excitement. i'e only read "weirdstone", "elidor", "red shift" and "the owl service" but think they are all absolutely wonderful. "red shift" has a lot in common with my hero russel hoban, and any book that relates landscape and our relationship to it like that will appeal. but it's so adventurous as well! and as a book aimed for 'young adults'? amazing. i have to say "the owl service" is my favourite though as it takes in all the themes that make him special and creates one of the most haunting books i have ever read. certainly proof that children's writers can be even more provocative and intelligent than many of their ostensibly more "mature" peers

chris browning (commonswings), Saturday, 23 November 2002 15:10 (nineteen years ago) link

i went to a family reunion - my aunt's 70th birthday - right by the ruined house where the morrigan keeps that big black triangle w.red eyes that they find in the well (elwood hall? something like that) => anyway i said, hey, isn't this where the moon of gomrath is set, and my cousins and their wives all said "no that's alderley edge that's miles away"

elidor is peerless

the owl service is interesting cz it's built on the eternal return of a class-conflict triangle whose specific cultural manifestation couldn't have survived the 60s (ie though great it's also a bit of a period piece) => "she is wanting to be flowers but he is making her owls"

i haven't reread red shift for years, and i'm not sure where my copy of it is

WoB and MoG do suffer from too much knock-off tolkienism, i think (i hate cadellin silverbow and angharad goldenwotsis, and the aragorn clone is EVEN MORE BORING THAN ARAGORN) - i like the seven lesb horsewarriors who nearly take the girl with them, and wild edric is of course a classic shropshire legend merely borrowed by the mancs

haha pelis the false!! what a great soubriquet!!

mark s the false (mark s), Saturday, 23 November 2002 15:22 (nineteen years ago) link

I adore and revere Garner, especially The Owl Service, Red Shift and Elidor. I think His Dark Materials is rivalling these, but I've long considered Garner to be the absolute peak of the fantasy genre and of writing for teens, and I guess I want a few more at the same standard from Pullman before I'll consider changing that opinion. I was less delighted with Strandloper (though I'd still recommend reading it), and there are a few even more slight works than the comparatively routine pair that Mark mentions, like The Stone Book.

Actually there are few writers more universally recommendable - how many writers are there who are exciting, original, readable by kids and respected by adults wanting serious literature?

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Saturday, 23 November 2002 15:37 (nineteen years ago) link

i must give these another look - loved them as a kid. am currently re-reading 'a wizard of earthsea', does ursula le guin get any love here? (it's just as scary if not more so than when i first read it in grade 5!)

minna (minna), Saturday, 23 November 2002 15:54 (nineteen years ago) link

Yeah, Le Guin is very good (when she isn't utterly boring*). I can't remember how many books there are in that series now. I remember the excellent initial trilogy, then there is a later, more adult feminist revisit, but I've a notion there may be a fifth too.

*A good writer but an idiot critic. She once claimed that you could tell that a book was great if you could remember the names of three characters in it!

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Saturday, 23 November 2002 15:58 (nineteen years ago) link

Partially due to Robin's reference of it in his e-mail address, I took the chance to pick up a number of his books used over the years. A fine recommendation and a half, though at this point I've only read Elidor (simply wonderful) and The Owl Service (more a success in moments of supreme tension and underlying fear than as a straight narrative).

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 23 November 2002 16:38 (nineteen years ago) link

There's six Earthsea books now: the original trilogy ( Wizard of Earthsea - Tombs of Atuan - Farthest Shore) and three more, which are an attempt to reconcile uh the more feminist aspects of Le Guin's writing with the (perceived) (by Le Guin) chauvinism of epic fantasy as a form..

There's other stuff going on in them too, obviously. I read the 'grownup' (i mean, the 'kids' trilogy is all about death and religion) ones recently and liked them a whole lot, although I think in terms of narrative and also for uh sense of wonder, or whatever the term SF hedz use is, the 'kids' three might be better. it's been a while and i need to reread them.

(And Garner I haven't read since junior school so him I need to look up)

(does anyone in this bitch like Joan Aiken?)

thom west (thom w), Sunday, 24 November 2002 19:29 (nineteen years ago) link

aiken: yes *I AM DIDO TWITE*!!

i just found and started rereading red shift: the first scene is so teeth-grindingly horrible — in a good-writing way i guess — that i think i never properly engaged with it as a teen; anyway there's scads of it i had totally forgotten

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 24 November 2002 19:55 (nineteen years ago) link

Reading 'Red Shift' aged 10 or so was one of my first exposures to 'experimental' writing and so I've always retained a respect/fondness for Garner's work that hasn't yet been tested by any re-reading.

'The Owl Service' - the superb tv version of which I DO remember banging on abt on some ILE thread or other - is still my fave: I have a nice hardback ex-library copy from Cleeve Park School (wherever that is), w/ a cool 60s dustcover and some v. pretty endpapers. (The H/C of 'Red Shift also has a gd spooky cov and mystical alphabetical endpapers.)

Andrew L (Andrew L), Sunday, 24 November 2002 20:30 (nineteen years ago) link

aged TEN!! did you understand the bit where "jan vomits = tom's mum assumes she is pregnant"?

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 24 November 2002 21:03 (nineteen years ago) link

six months pass...
aargh, after being reminded on the Dark is Rising thread about Garner i think i need to order aall ofthese books. I think i've read Elidor & Owl service as well as Weirdstone & MoG but Red Shift doesn't seem familiar.

well, from my very dim childhood memories i'm gonna say classic (it stuck in my brain this long)

H (Heruy), Tuesday, 17 June 2003 17:21 (eighteen years ago) link

aged TEN!! did you understand the bit where "jan vomits = tom's mum assumes she is pregnant

I think I would have done - did you not have a 'pregnancy project' in primary school?

N. (nickdastoor), Tuesday, 17 June 2003 23:01 (eighteen years ago) link

nine years pass...

Hey, so there's a new sequel to Weirdstone of Brismagen/Moon of Gomrath out. Who knew. Anyone read it?

Number None, Monday, 24 December 2012 01:41 (eight years ago) link

eight years pass...

Backlisted podcast informs me he has a new one out! Had totally assumed he was dead I have to admit.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 22 November 2021 13:46 (one week ago) link

I've been listneing to ti as an audiobook. It's suitably weird.

Urbandn hope all ye who enter here (dog latin), Monday, 22 November 2021 16:11 (one week ago) link


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