Friday, December 23, 2011

Dabbling in Juvenalia

Every year around this season [of Christmas], my Reading Partner© and I partake of a children's book. We indulge.
"Children" is the wrong word though.
A younger person's book might be better phraseology. I prefer to think of it as "dabbling in juvenalia".
In 2011 we've chosen Jonathan Auxier's Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes.
Terrific book. I can't wait to get back to it as soon as I write this blog. It would be almost impossible for any book to top Philip Pullman's series His Dark Materials, or Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels, but this one is right up there in its own right.
Peter Nimble is this ten year old orphan who had his eyes pecked out by a raven.
He becomes a master at thievery, utilizing the resultant attenuation of all of his other senses.
But, in the process of his… thievery -- he manages to pilfer a box of magical eyes.
Three pairs of 'em.
When he plugs these things into his empty sockets, he is immediately transported into adventures beyond the realm of… well, it is just bizarre. It's worth a look.
One thing I love about Auxier's style is the lack of "dumbing down" -- I mean, the story is even crazier than anything we have read before -- but I just love how Auxier refrains from being child-friendly. There's quite a bit of violence here.
And it's not just the violence I admire, but also the vocabulary.
In one scene an unconscious Peter Nimble is shackled and imprisoned, an empty flour sack tied over his head. He awakes amidst some rather major nasal convulsions, and we read:
With each sternutation came a sharp pain in the back of his head, which was still sore from the ambush outside the Eating Hall. [p.201]
Excuse me?
Sternu…… what?
I had to look this word up. And I am not only 48 years old, but also, pretty much a linguistic genius.
Apparently it means "the act of sneezing."
Ohhhhhh…. right. I get it now.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas season, free of the flu, or even a cold.
Which is to say... completely sternutationless.



rhapsodyinbooks said...

Interesting concept, about the magical eyes. Almost makes up for the raven tragedy, but not quite, it would seem to me! At any rate, a merry Christmas season to you too!

Cipriano said...

Thank you, Rhapsody.
I'm looking forward to a Rhapsodic Christmas with my best friend and his family.

Melwyk said...

Oh my. How have I never read this one? It sounds fabulously weird :) Love those fantastical junior fiction books...