Sunday, April 5, 2009

Youth That He Cannot Endure In His Age

Ann Downer-Hazell recently shared some thoughts on John's books, which have become part of her evening reading ritual:

For my part, the Dixons are the best, and it’s completely because of the relationship between Johnny and his neighbor and mentor and best friend, Roderick Childermass.

Could anyone invent a character like Professor Childermass now, or a relationship like the one he has with teenaged Johnny? Imagine trying to pitch a novel for this age range (older middle-grade to YA) in which a kind of shy, lonely boy is allowed to go off for the weekend in the company of his somewhat elderly bachelor neighbor, who loves to have Johnny over to his house to play chess and who has hobby baking cakes. Can’t quite see it? It’s why these books are something of a miracle. Childermass throws tantrums. He smokes. He is socially awkward. And he loves Johnny dearly. All the family relationships and friendships are beautifully rendered, but not in a manner that ever gets in the way of the really good shivery Gothic storytelling. They are not really mysteries and not really horror, but a category I think of as supernatural and psychological suspense.

Glad to know we're part of the "fervent following", too!

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