Friday, October 21, 1977

The Bridge to Terabithia: Connecting the Real World to Fantasy

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Surprisingly few Newbery winning books have been made into movies. The Bridge to Terabithia (1977), by Katherine Paterson, is one of them. The 2007 Disney movie tweaked the original story. In the book, 10-year-old Jess and his friend Leslie imagine Terabithia as a kingdom in the woods. The book, however, does very little to detail that kingdom while the movie makes it into a more visual, seemingly real place.

The general argument is always supposed to be that the book is better than the movie. However, the book-version of Terabithia leaves something to be desired. There are relatively few scenes which let the reader get any sense of just how magical Terabithia is. I was left wanting full-fledged chapters about the kids' imaginary adventures, but got little more than a few paragraphs sprinkled throughout the book. The movie, however, clearly builds on the fantasy element of Terabithia, as one can see in the trailer alone:

As always, my point in reading the Newbery books (I'm up to 25 now) is to see what I can learn as a writer. What talents in storytelling and style and characterization can I bring to my own writing based on what these award-winning authors have done?

My first lesson is to elaborate on where Paterson fell short. My in-progress Abigail's Atlantis relies heavily on making Atlantis feel like a very real place and that requires enveloping a reader in caring about what it looks like and what happens there. I didn't get that with Terabithia.

On the other hand, the story is more about the friendship between Jess and Leslie. She enters Jess's life as the new girl from the city, a rival - the one person who can run faster. While no one else becomes friends with her, eventually she and Jess unite over their makeshift shed in the woods which they dub "Terabithia." It represents the imaginative and creative spirit which brings the two together as friends - and the place where Jess will go to deal with the tragedy at the climax of the book.

On that note, Paterson does an excellent job of creating real characters which the reader cares about. I root for Jess and Leslie as the outsiders, the artists, the dreamers. I care about these characters in their real-world scenarios and the problems they faced. I just wish I could have fallen in love with the supposed-to-be-magical land of Terabithia which connected them to each other in the first place.

Monday, May 30, 1977

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez Published 10 Years Ago Today

Updated 2/16/2019.

Buy on Amazon

First Publication: May 30, 1967

Category: magic realism novel

Sales: 50 million


About the Book:

“One of the 20th century’s enduring works, One Hundred Years of Solitude is…the ultimate achievement in a Nobel Prize–winning career.” BN “Alternately reverential and comical, [it] weaves the political, personal, and spiritual to bring a new consciousness to storytelling. Translated into dozens of languages, this stunning work is no less than an accounting of the history of the human race.” BN

Solitude tells the story of the rise and fall, birth and death of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendia family. Inventive, amusing, magnetic, sad, and alive with unforgettable men and women – brimming with truth, compassion, and a lyrical magic that strikes the soul – this novel is a masterpiece in the art of fiction.” AZ

“It is a rich and brilliant chronicle of life and death, and the tragicomedy of humankind. In the noble, ridiculous, beautiful, and tawdry story of the Buendía family, one sees all of humanity, just as in the history, myths, growth, and decay of Macondo, one sees all of Latin America.” BN

“Love and lust, war and revolution, riches and poverty, youth and senility - the variety of life, the endlessness of death, the search for peace and truth - these universal themes dominate the novel. Whether he is describing an affair of passion or the voracity of capitalism and the corruption of government, Gabriel García Márquez always writes with the simplicity, ease, and purity that are the mark of a master.” BN

In July 2018, I became the organizer of the Mission Classic Novels Book Club. Check out the Book Club tab here or Meetup for more information. This was our book for November 2018.

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