Anti-immigrant rhetoric…build a wall…despise the other…blame victims…carry weapons.
I’m not referring to hate speech spouted by some egomaniacal aspirant to power in the United States. This is all from the fictional world created by Lois Lowry in her astonishingly relevant The Giver quartet. I’m just rereading Book 3, Messenger. The last time I read it, Matty’s gift felt almost mythic in its savior-like quality. Now I’m struck by the degree to which the world in the book is our world. By how farsighted fiction can be. Walls. Immigration. Hatred. Weapons.
First published in 2004. Read it now.
Last January at VCFA, Katherine Paterson signed a copy of The Flint Heart for me, the middle grade fantasy she wrote in collaboration with her husband John. On first read it was a lovely romp, with its charming child characters, its fairytale backdrop, the sinister Heart itself, an adorable anthropomorphized hot water bottle, and its sly asides on the nature of writing and life. My writer self delighted in the glorious fun of its many literary allusions. But read it again and it becomes something more–a parable for our times, perhaps. A commentary on power, on those who hunger for it and on what it does when one gets it, even by chance. It offers the discerning writer a way to mingle the real and fantastic. The structure is impeccable. The story weaves from one world and one time to another with seemingly effortless ease. A revival of the British fantasy by Eden Philpotts, The Flint Heart is a gem reimagined and infused with the customary Paterson magic.