Admist all the basketball excitement, I read that Diana Wynne Jones passed away yesterday after her prolonged battle with cancer. She has long been one of my favorite authors, with her wit, intelligence, faith in her younger readership, wry pragmatism, and brilliant writing.
I remember reading DWJ in school, on my back porch, on airplanes. I read to myself, laughed myself to tears; I read to my sisters, joked about butter pies and Fantasyland’s lack of socks. I struggled to make sense of Hexwood and Fire and Hemlock; I devoured Howl’s Moving Castle, Dark Lord of Derkholm, and all the Chrestomanci books. Who could forget the antics of Deep Secret or Year of the Griffin? Her situational humor, her sparkling adjectives, her inventive and deconstructive clichés…
Her accolades and awards include two Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honors, the Karl Edward Wagner Award for having a significant impact on the field of fantasy literature, and the World Fantasy Society Lifetime Achievement Award.
It is an odd thing to be moved to tears while the rest of the state explodes in basketball-related joy. Outside my window, horns and chants and laughter. Inside, only a desperate grief, a heavy emptiness for that great lady of literature.
The book/blog/writing world demonstrates an outpouring of grief and sympathy for DWJ’s family. What a testament to one of literature’s best and brightest. Shine on, Diana. You will be missed.
Okay, I can’t keep blogging without putting this out there. It’s kind of hard to continue writing papers, talking to friends, going out to eat lunch when I know, a single ocean away, people are suffering in Japan, a nuclear reactor stands exposed, and the entire globe seethes with unrest. The UN Security Council just passed a resolution on Libya. The US House cut federal funding to NPR, and dance jobs will probably be next to go. It’s hard to justify my continued interest in the local weather, in Emily Dickinson and Shakespeare, in dressing in matching clothes.
But what can we do? We send aid and prayers to those in need and examine the dark spots within our own lives. We try to live as well as possible, as lightly as possible on this earth, with as much compassion for our fellows as possible, with as much joy and appreciation for our own experiences. Otherwise, what is the point of all this malarky?
This life is a balance between joy and despair. We must feel the pain of our fellows in places like Japan. It is right to participate in their despair over this horrible, horrible tragedy. It is right to be anxious about the impending danger at Fukushima Daiichi (though read both views). It is right to be anxious about civil wars and the economy. At the same time, we cannot abandon our own personal timelines, our personal and local concerns. This is what I have decided.