Annie Young Frisbie

Annie Young Frisbie is the WGA Award nominated writer of SPEAK, starring Kristen Stewart and based on the novel by Laurie Halse Anderson. Formerly Managing Editor of The New Pantgruel, Frisbie has contributed to The House Next Door, Time Out New York, and Zoom In Online. She holds an MA in Cinema Studies from NYU and a BA in American Studies and Theater from Franklin and Marshall College. Frisbie lives in Queens with her husband John and daughter Beatrice Ruth. She is involved in La Leche League International and knows way too much about cloth diapers and baby carriers. She blogs at Reading is my Superpower.

When Bloggers Die

 

Book bloggers don’t hang out in the edgiest corners of the Internet, nor do we use the latest, fanciest technology. We don’t embed video or upload MP3s. We read books, we post our thoughts, we swap galleys with loose pages and paperbacks with broken spines. We flaunt our passions-for Thomas Pynchon, for Nora Roberts, for John Updike, for Stephen King.But what we, the nerdiest of the nerds, lack in panache we make up for in community. Apart from reading, there’s nothing a reader likes more than to talk with another reader about a book that both have read. We engage in crazy group activities like challenges to read long books, or old books, or books by authors we’ve never heard of, and sign up for a 24-hour Read-a-Thon.We lost one of our own this week, a blogger named Dewey at The Hidden Side of a Leaf. I never met her in person, though we emailed a few times when I guest hosted a Bookworms Carnival. She commented a few times on my blog, and I on hers.Dewey passed away last week, having been sick and in pain for quite some time. None of us knew this about her. We knew her as an ebullient cheerleader for reading, with seemingly endless energy for coming up with ways for us to transcend geography and read together. I heard the news on Google Reader via a post by Dewey’s husband to her blog, and even now, a few days later, it’s still hitting me. How can a blogger be gone, just like that?I’ve been involved over the years in a number of conversations about whether or not things like Internet forums, or comments sections, or mailing lists can constitute community. I’ve always been inclined to think they’re missing some ineffable factor, the way that God comes in and moves among His children, whether they acknowledge him or not. The time we spend online is just a diversion. The Kingdom can’t be reduced to ones and zeroes.

But everyone who’s blogging about Dewey is talking about one thing – community. She helped build something that’s going to stand even though she’s gone. I have to believe that God can move in cyberspace as surely as He moves on the streets where I live. So I want to thank Dewey for creating a space for us to acknowledge the ties that bind us together, and I pray that God will show me where I’ll find the work He’s created for me.

On Fantasy Fiction;
Or, You Should Read Cyndere’s Midnight

I wanted our relationship to be based on honesty, I really truly did. But when I started dating John I started keeping a big secret from him, one that I feared would send him screaming for the hills.

I read speculative fiction. Read might be too weak a word for what I like to do with dragons, wizards, elves, fairies and the ordinary mortals stalking medieval-esque castles feasting on game while apocalypse bangs on the door. I ravage books with elaborate maps on the opening pages, and characters whose names need a pronunciation guide. And I knew within minutes that my intellectual beloved had never once dreamed of wielding a sword against a monstrous horde.

We were engaged when the truth emerged, over dinner with a college friend and his girlfriend. The topic of books came up, and Don said, “She likes books about vampires in space.” Melissa replied, “He likes to tease me.” I said, “Have you read any CS Friedman?”

Nowadays I’m out and I’m proud, while John rolls his eyes in the background. And now I’m going to take things a step further, and tell you that I’m recommending you read a work of fantasy even if you’re just like my husband. I’m sick of the tyranny of realism. I’m tired of seeing fantasy ghettoized. Genre was made to be transcended, and Jeffrey Overstreet’s The Auralia Thread seems to be doing just that.

The recently published second book in the proposed four-book series, Cyndere’s Midnight spins the story begun in Auralia’s Colors in a mournful direction. In Auralia’s Colors, Overstreet introduces us to the Expanse, a land dominated by four house and threatened by a fifth fallen house, the Cent Regus, comprised of hideous, savage beastmen. Auralia wove life-giving powers that transformed the tyrannically oppressed House Abascar, then was spirited away by The Keeper, a creature most believe is only a legend.

Now, in Cyndere’s Midnight, the beastmen are amassing an army to take over the expanse, but one beastman, Jordam, has been awakened by Auralia’s colors and fights against his nature to find her and bring her colors back to heal his people. Meanwhile, royal Cyndere mourns the loss of her husband Deuneroi, slain by a beastman, while factions and politics swirl around her in an attempt to depose her altogether.

“This is nothing like real life!” So you think. But before you go back to that intricate triumph of verisimilitude detailing the day in the life of a dental hygienist, stop and ask yourself why you are reading in the first place. If it’s to pad your Goodreads feed with Booker nominees in order to impress your Facebook friends, then you probably stopped reading this article after the second paragraph.

Read
‚Ä¢ You can buy Auralia’s Colors and Cyndere’s Midnight at Amazon.
‚Ä¢ Check author Jeffrey Overstreet’s website and blog for updates on the series and a speaking schedule.
• You can read Annie Young Frisbie’s interviews with Jeffrey Overstreet at her blog. They were published in October 2007, after Auralia’s Colors hit bookstores, and this month, after the publication of Cyndere’s Midnight.

But if you read because you want to be swept away by a story with epic ambition, intimate characterizations, poetic language, and relevance to your life and our world, then please set aside any genre bias you might have, take a deep breath, and dive into the Expanse. If you’re already a fan of the genre, I hope I pique your interest by saying that the Auralia Thread so far combines Patricia McKillip’s atmospheric mysticism with a lack of derivativeness worthy of Robin Hobb.

I found myself deeply moved at several points while reading Cyndere’s Midnight, overcome by the power of the emotions that Overstreet conjured through his judicious use of words. In particular, he kills off one minor character with such heartbreaking poignancy that I had to brush away tears while I rode on the subway. With two more books to go, Auralia remains missing, the Keeper remains a mystery, and the beastmen remain bestial, but I will follow Overstreet wherever he wants to take me.

Oh, and this all goes double if you found Overstreet’s book in the Christian Fiction section. It bears about as little resemblance to books like Left Behind and the Mitford series as does Denis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke. Don’t let signs at Barnes and Noble or tags on Amazon.com tell you what kind of books you like to read. You’ll miss out on countless worlds of beauty.