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Adrian

The Wrong Grave - With Spoilers

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I feel that everything in a book should be there for a reason. So, first of all, what is this here for? (each story gets its own Shawn Tan drawing preceding it)

linkwronggrave.jpg

It's like some psychiatrist is trying to trick me into revealing my inner-most thoughts by talking about the picture. "What do you see here?" Well, the left tusk has obviously been taken by Lesothon ivory smugglers, and regardless of the injunctions we all know what Andrew Marr has been up to with his 'trunk' and why does it only have one knee and I bet that bird has pood into his hand and is that Hazel's snake at the end of the trunk and I bet I'd look pretty in that dress and that thing at the top of his headdress has to have been drawn by someone at Viz.

And then then there's the caption:

"Anyone might accidentally dig up the wrong grave."

Look love, I dig up the "wrong" grave every now and then just to throw plod off the scent. Are these hypothetical Burkes & Hares illiterate? Last time I wandered through a graveyard there was a pretty useful thing marking each burial plot. It's called a gravestone.

Anyway, this story concerns a boyfriend who tries to recover his poems ("Three haikus, a sestina, and two villanelles. Some longer pieces.") from his recently dead girlfriend's coffin. He'd thrown them in there as some grand gesture. As you do. If it was me I would have twittered them first to save myself the bother. I couldn't take it seriously as all I wanted to do when I started reading it was watch Goodfellas again, which is what I did instead of finishing it.

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I think it could. As a mature adult (yes, really!) reading a CYA book I find it difficult to think now whether it would have appealed to me when I was the age of its intended audience.

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Thanks a lot, Adrian. Until I read your post I was really enjoying the Shaun Tan pictures... now, I'm going to query them all a lot more. :rolleyes: You're right - it doesn't quite work, but maybe it isn't supposed to.

 

I've read 4 of the stories so far, and this is my favourite (bit disappointed with "Magic for Beginners" particularly). I thought it cleverly written, and actually felt quite sorry for Miles at times!

 

Shamefully, I hadn't thought of this as Young Adult literature, but had thought that it is a good level that it could go in teenage collections as a bridge to adult books.

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My reaction was "Eh?" then after the pointlessly long Wizards of Perfil with the predictable ending, I had to give up.

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I would beg to differ.

Before I get to the point I would just say that I love fantasy, weirdness and read a fair few teenage/ya books. I found this incredibly disappointing. I did read to the end but was constantly waiting for something to make me go OOh or AAAh. Not a thing. Somehow for me all the stories in this collection missed the mark by a mile. The Wrong Grave, I read the bit about poems in the grave and thought "oh yes Rosetti and Siddal" this of course is referenced in the story but it was as if the author hadn't thought it through.I kept waiting for the breakthrough something that would be interesting or new or different it didnt happen. I've passed it on to my nearly 13 year old to see what he makes of it. I am glad I didnt buy this as I may well have been attracted by the cover and blurb.

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Okay, well I've kicked off with this one and I was a bit underwhelmed, I have to say.

 

I can't help but think I'm missing something, that there's a significance that's eluding me.

 

For a start, it isn't the wrong grave. Miles just doesn't recognise her (though her mother does). I wasn't sure what was being said here. I suppose it's all wrapped up in the line:

 

"We don't often get a chance to see our dead. Still less often do we know them when we see them."

 

But I still couldn't see what Link was trying to say. It felt like it should be a gem from Confucius's Bumper Book of Aphorisms, yet if you poked it the whole thing just crumbled into dust. Is it a point about not knowing people properly in life? I suppose it could be but the surrounding context just didn't follow through with that.

 

Then there's the way it all unfolds. Okay, so there's clearly an element of fable here (though again, I'm not sure what the message is) so you don't expect it to be entirely realistic. Nevertheless, Miles is surprisingly calm after a dead girl comes back to life. The conversation flows with barely a raised eyebrow that the dead are walking.

 

Now obviously this is fantasy and - yes - the dead are walking. So I get the fact that we're suspending our disbelief, but people still need to behave like people. Unless the fantasy is in a credible world with which we can identify it isn't going to take root and will instead feel superficial and just words on a page.

 

I also didn't see why the narrator is fashioned as a character who knows Miles. This didn't seem to serve any purpose and just made it odd that the narrator, who is absent from these events, knows them all in intimate detail.

 

Maybe I read it too late in the evening and I've really been very dense but this didn't hang together for me. But I'll press on and maybe the later stories will improve.

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