I’ve started reading again
I’m currently reading Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things. I was wondering whether one of the poems in that might work for the young man I was tutoring yesterday, if I should have him again next week (I volunteer), as he should probably be working on summarizing and pulling the ‘main idea’ out of a work. I might try it, if he’s a comic book fan and has at least heard of Sandman.
Not that I think Gaiman’s inaccessible, but I don’t want to miss the mark completely. Many of these students are (or claim to be) as ignorant of pop culture as they are of what I would view as the educational staples. A poem about alien invasions, zombies, genies and multiple apocapolishould be fun, but I can see (intellectually at least) how it might not work for everyone.
But this got my brain hopping again. I once heard someone say that Sandman was the first sympathetic portrayal of Death personified. Easily dismissed, as Sandman began it’s run in 1988, and Death didn’t even show up until the next year. Terry Pratchett’s Colour of Magic came out in 1983. Although DEATH is f nowhere near as cute and cuddly as Death, he’s clearly a nice enough guy. Incidentally, Alan Dean Foster’s On a Pale Horse also came out in 1983. His Death is much more accessible than Pratchett, as well as being the protagonist, I would even admit that he’s a nice enough guy, but I really like DEATH as a character.
Peter S. Beagle came in years before that, in 1963, with his short story “Come, Lady Death“. As always, I can’t say enough good things about Peter S. Beagle. Gaiman is the only author who comes close to creating dreamy worlds rich with humor and love. Going back to 1962, there’s the Twilight Zone episode “Nothing in the Dark” where an old woman locked herself into her house, hiding from Death personified. It turned out he was a really nice guy, (a very young, golden haired Robert Redford) and she needn’t have been afraid. Both these stories affected me deeply as a child, and I think in a positive way.
I’d have to track it down to be sure, but I seem to recall that Death Takes a Holiday also provided us with pretty sympathetic portrayal back in 1934. Earlier than that? I think there’s a story or two where a personified death is referred to as ‘old friend’, but I can’t recall any in particular.
Of course, the original remark may have been intended to refer to death in comic books only, but that seems to be a pretty ticky-tack differentiation. They’re all pop culture images, and I can’t imagine a world where books, films, TV and comics don’t all borrow from each other.
Actual Knitting Content
I publicly declared the baby blanket “the most boring project I’ve ever worked on”, then finished the second set of squares in the doubleknit section and have decided it’s not boring anymore. Also, a woman in a waiting room asked what happened to the Les Miserables shawl which I put on hold, so not only am I kipping along but people pay attention, which is kind of cool.