Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jabberwocky, and other assorted jive.

I have the feeling I'd be hard-pressed to find a reader who wasn't familiar with Lewis Carrol's "Jabberwocky" poem in all its nonsensical glory, but stranger things have happened.  In honor of the A to Z Blog Challenge, then, please allow me to take a moment to fill you in.

Lewis Carroll
(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
  He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
  He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

I memorized at least the first stanza when I was just a wee kid, and I remember belting it out while running around my house in my Underroos, thinking I was somebody.  I had no idea what the poem was about, and probably mistook the nonsense words as being words I simply wasn't familiar with at that age.

Where was my vorpal sword?

Yeah, Underroos were awesome.

Which leads me into today's thought for the day.  Lewis Carroll did it, as countless others have done:  suspending the readers' disbelief.  Lewis Carroll did it so well that readers can imagine exactly how that terrifying Jabberwock looks.  Smells.  Sounds.

I began an account at Goodreads dot com, where I started rating books I've read.  I noticed, across 90 books, my average rating is 4.19 out of 5 stars.  Logic tells me there are not that many great books out there statistically.  How did I get so lucky with my reading choices?  I'll tell you.  Because if a book doesn't grab me out of my chair and pull me into the pages within the first five minutes, I'm done.  And, of course, those that I simply walked away from, I don't have the heart to give a permanent one-star review.  Maybe that particular book or author just didn't resonate well with me, a mere one person out of a planet of 6 billion.

What is your strategy for making it through a book that doesn't grab you within the first few pages?  And writers, when building your novel, how close to the action do you begin in order to set that hook?

Thanks for reading!  Put on your Underroos and let's write.  Together.