Adam Gopnik’s review of the newest addition to the Eragon series in last week’s New Yorker caught my eye (not because I’ve read these books, though as my sons gets older, I look forward to reading them together) but because Gopnik writes about the always-interesting relationship between kids and fantasy. He writes “Of all the unexpected things in contemporary literature, this is among the oddest: that kids have an inordinate appetite for very long, very tricky, very strange books about places that don’t exist, fights that never happened, all set against a medieval background.” I’m not sure it’s so odd, and indeed, I remember a time in my own reading life when I had an insatiable taste for magical books, almost to the exclusion of all else. That I outgrew it, or that my tastes broadened, or that I found less fantastical settings equally appealing might argue for my emergent Muggledom. Or perhaps, like Susan in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series, I became interested in nothing “except nylons and lipstick and invitations” though as a girl, I hated this aspect of the final book, and could think of no worse fate. In any case, Gopnik’s point is that it is not the otherworldliness that draws young readers. “Kids go to fantasy not for escape but for organization, and a little elevation, ” that it offers “familiar experience in intensified form.” He describes the Twilight books as representative “not so much the life that a teenage girl would wish to have, but the one she already has, rearranged with heightened symbols.”
What do you think? Did you go through a fantasy phase? What drew you to it then? Do you read it still?