Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

The Weirdstone Of Brisingamen: Alan Garner

I began my reading of Alan Garner with Elidor (I think I read it aloud to my kids) and carried on from there in chronological order. Somehow I never bothered to go back to the first two books- and I doubt if I'd ever have bothered if Boneland (out this August) hadn't been announced as the long-delayed third part of the trilogy. I'm reading The Weirdstone now and- coming to it straight from a re-reading of The Stone Book Quartet-  I'm taken aback by the flabbiness of the prose, the absence of characterization, the stiltedness of the dialogue.  Two middle-class children come to Cheshire to lodge with a couple of salt of the earth peasanty types who say "sithee"; it could almost be Enid Blyton...

Garner himself went through a phase of hating the book. In his first revulsion he called it "one of the worst books published in the past 20 years." Now he's mellowed. Books don't last for half a century if they're unmitigated rubbish. In a recent interview he calls it "a young man's book" and praises its "energy". 

I still don't altogether understand the affection in which it's held. It's the work of writer who is still learning his craft and hasn't- to be honest- got very far with it. Great things were to follow, but when Garner's name comes up it's not Red Shift that gets mentioned first, or Thursbitch, it's the bloody Weirdstone- even though they are masterpieces and Weirdstone is a codge.

No, it's beyond me. I'm missing something, but what? 
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