Jill and I are trying something new–NOT THAT! Jesus, when did Gardner Dozois and the rest of the Delpholk get in the door?–we’re “making” each other read certain books. Jill has long complained that I never read anything she recommends, with some justice, and, because of her feeling that way, she has resisted my recommendations as well. Since we’ve started this new phase of our lives, we’ve come up with a new system of recommending and reading books. (I know, I know, I’m horrible. I have a system for everything. And they never stay around for long, constantly being modified. Hell, I’m just like the federal government.) Jill picks out a book that she’s read and thinks I’ll like. Once I’ve read it, then I pick a book of mine that I’ve read and think she’ll like. The two books have to be roughly the same word count (Jill didn’t want to relive the experience of saying, “I’ll read any Harlan Ellison book you give me,” and then be handed the 1,000 page The Essential Ellison).
James and the Giant Peach is the first from this. Jill’s been trying to get me to read this children’s book for years, knowing that I would appreciate it. She was right, of course. I loved it. It’s exactly the type of children’s book that I look for: not sickly sweet with a sledgehammer moral, but sly and wicked and funny and irreverant, with an underlying ethical framework that I can agree with. Characters in books like these can be exaggerated (as Dahl did with wonderful effect in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), but they contain a kernel of what we see in our everyday world–things like greed, egoism, abuse, unhappiness, etc.
I gave Jill The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain. After I read her next recommendation, though, I think I’m going to get her to read E. Nesbit’s Five Children and It, a more fitting response to this Dahl.
[Finished 25 January 1994]