Half Magic, by Edward Eager, was one my favorite books as a child. I rediscovered it recently–or, my children discovered it–at a library book sell, nearly lost to eager book searchers (forgive my pun) in the numerous dusty boxes of books spread across the community gym floor. I had to wait, of course, for both my eldest daughters to read it, but finally, finally, they left it for me on my desk. If they want me to read a book, they leave it on my desk, where I might push it aside if I can’t immediately read it. I did not push Half Magic aside.
Have you ever wondered why people seem to have different attractions to books, almost in the same way that they are biologically attracted to other people? As an adult, Alexander McCall Smith is one of my favorite authors, and I immediately began to wonder, when reading Eager’s book, if McCall Smith read this author as a child, also. For a start, there is the fencing scene in Half Magic, in which one knight lops off the tip of the other knight’s nose. Could it be a coincidence that this happens in a Dr. von Igelfeld Entertainment? Perhaps it is; perhaps so, but what of the strange mother–who becomes Jane’s mother near the end of the story–who is a spitting image of Bertie’s mother from the Scotland Street series?
I’m not even half suggesting that Alexander McCall Smith ripped of Edward Eager. On the contrary, McCall Smith’s books are clearly unique and wonderful. I’m simply wondering if authors subconsciously hold onto the details from books, as if they were buried childhood memories that then work themselves out here and there in their texts.
If that were the case, then I suppose details from Nancy Drew books would find themselves in my books (not to mention Half Magic, but no nose-lopping for me, thanks. I couldn’t possibly make it as unique as Igelfeld, and his poor friend who has his nose stitched on upside-down.)
What books would it be for you?