Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sad literary news

Very sad to hear of the passing of Diana Wynne Jones, author of the Chrestomanci Series, Dogsbody, The Ogre Downstairs, and Howl's Moving Castle, among others.

Her rich, familiar characters and effortless world-building sold fantastic, reality-crossing plots. All were crafted with sophistication and her respect for an ostensibly young adult audience won her plenty of fans of all ages, including Neil Gaiman. I never knew, until today, that she studied under CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien at Oxford.

Wynne Jones was never hugely famous*, even after Howl's was made into a movie. When Annie found out I was a fan, it was like discovering we shared membership in a secret society. Along with John Bellairs, Diana Wynne Jones was a literary titan of my youth, and her work set the standard for so much of what I love in fiction today. With dead-tree bookstores and public libraries shutting down by the drove, one wonders how anyone will get their hands on these sorts of magical, secret authors in the future. But I'm confident that, as long as there are kids who read until they've run out of books, who'd rather stretch up to an author than be talked down to, someone will find these treasures, in whatever format, and share them with their friends.

* Even though she deserves to be; Annie points out that Harry Potter pales considerably next to Jones' far more satisfying Witch Week.

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