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  1. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    Shadowland by Peter Straub

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by LinnyV, Mar 6, 2016.

    From another thread, I was motivated to read outside my usual genre which would be Romance. So I cheated, I picked a former love and that would be Horror. But really, I've been wanting to read Shadowland again. I just could not remember the title but it has nagged at me for years, that story that I left me with a haunting feeling when I got to end.

    Motivated to figure it out and see if it affects me the same way as I did when I was a teenager, I spent over an hour in total on and off googling all random combinations of words "Two boys, a magician uncle and a girl with burning feet."

    Frustrated, I think I finally hit jackpot when I typed something along the lines of "Magician's apprentices" and the name Peter Straub came up which rang a bell. It all clicked that I would have read a horror. Although, I remembered it as a haunting love story and can only assume that it was those elements that appealed to me. And the burning feet? Turns out its a mermaid who accepted human form and forever walks on nails and razor blades. Missed or forgot that!

    According to wikipedia (because I am exceedingly lazy):
    The story concerns two young boys, Tom Flanagan and Del Nightingale, who spend a summer with Del's uncle Coleman Collins, who is one of the foremost magicians in the world. As time passes, however, Tom begins to suspect that what Collins is teaching is not a series of harmless tricks, but is in fact real sorcery.

    Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised that the novel has been picked up by David S. Goyer to be adapted for an NBC Event TV Series. At least it was as of 24 Oct 2014, you can never be certain if these things actually go anywhere. Still, I thought, it must have been good to be worthy for consideration at least. I really have zero memories of what this story was about.

    I've just started and I'm finding every page has me pausing to think and reflect and wonder what the point is Peter Straub trying to make. It's driving me a little crazy (in a good way) to be honest.

    From the negative reviews there are criticisms of his writing technique and how this book leads you nowhere, that nothing truly horrible happens or that in the end, you're left with more questions than you started. I also caught another criticism how this writer is analyzing while he is writing, which has me even more twisted. Does that mean I am analyzing when he is analyzing and that at the end, there really is no answers? Arghh!!!

    He uses the idea of fairytales in this story which I love, and I feel like I'm being lead down this dark and wonky little path into a place where things will happen but nothing will be what I think it is. Because of this, I wouldn't mind company going down this path or at least someone who has read the book and can give me their thoughts. :)
     
  2. BooksandCoffee
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    I have recently read that book myself, and would enjoy discussing it with you – if you still want to give it a go.
     
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  3. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    Oh thank you @BooksandCoffee!

    I was hoping someone would be interested as I have a strong memory of how much I enjoyed this book. The feeling I got on finishing it, was that it was both sad and magical. I do remember it to be less horror and more fantasy. It's a long time ago so I was curious if it would be the same experience.

    Anyway, I started reading this previously but put it on hold, I'll get back to reading Shadowland next week and refresh my memory if you're still interested.

    How did you enjoy the book? Did it leave you with more questions than what you started with? That seems to be a common complaint.

    Myself personally, re-reading it again and still at the start I found the whole idea behind the King o' the Cats quite curious and how Straub intended it to be used. Is he trying to draw parallels with Tom's story where he is the chosen one, the next in line etc. . How did you find the fairytale element in the book? I found it had me reading up on old fairytales! :)
     
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    My pleasure @LinnyV


    Of course I am still interested.

    Since I have finished the book and already moved well into another one – my handle is rather accurate – I shall try to limit what we discuss to where you are at in the book, unless you want to discuss something in particular.

    I did enjoy the book, although it was not the genre that I have a tendency to reach for first. It did indeed leave me with questions.


    There did seem to be a great deal of allegory in the book. We can posit what we believe the author meant by ‘The King of Cats’, but only he really knows. The phrase, herding cats, did come to mind at times during the story.:D The religious themes and allegories were hardly subtle; they seemed to me more like a clue-by-4 to the back of the head.

    I have to confess that I did not see the book as horror, at least not in the same sense as Stephen King’s, Pet Cemetery . There were, IMHO, many elements of Gothic Romance: the setting (the old mansion), the two boys and their first love being the same girl, the older relative manipulating and controlling everything. Even the fairytales had a Gothic quality to them, but they added a fascinating element to the work.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2016
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  5. LinnyV
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    @BooksandCoffee I suddenly feel less lost in this particular book knowing you're hanging around. ;)

    I was totally confused at the start with the creepy clown and the "Then I am the King of the Cats!" bloody cat clambering up the chimney moment. A bit of WTF?! I suppose to me it was Straub's way to introduce his fairy tale that is Shadowland, and his fanciful version of the tale. He mentions that there are many more fairy tale references so I am interested in if I pick them up. :)

    But it's nice to be reminded that who on earth knows what is going through Straub's mind. Religious themes and allegories? I missed them all as a teenager, so a (clue-by-4) x 2 was probably needed. I'll see if I pick any up. I hope they're as obvious as you say. That's why I had to put the book on hold. I was trying to read Dune and that was more than a head full without me going what? what? what? every other page on Shadowland.

    Anyway, I'm glad it was not just me that thought there were strong elements of Gothic Romance in the book. To me, as a teenage girl reading it, I remember thinking to the very end that it was a tragic love story. I didn't associate Straub with this particular type of story so I wondered if my memory was faulty.

    This is also the only book I have read with wizardry in it ever - not with the Harry Potter craze - but the younger me was really drawn into how the theme was presented in this story and the sinister nature of it all. This is another key reason as to why I wanted to revisit the book. I want to understand why this book made wizardry or sorcery appealing to me as a reader. I've not read this kind of theme outside a paranormal romance setting which has sorcerers but is very dissimilar to that of Shadowland.

    Anyway, I am rambling and thinking about the book when I should be reading it. I'll pop back in next week with some more thoughts and try not to overthink it too much. A bad habit. But I can at least prod you with more questions and probably not get any answers. I feel like this is the whole purpose of this book...no answers. hehe.

    Finally, welcome to the forum. Hope you enjoy your time here, I'm new-ish myself but it's a warm and friendly place to be. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2016
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  6. BooksandCoffee
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    You are not alone @LinnyV; I was confused by a great many things in the book as well. I have no doubt that you will see things in the book that I have missed, but that is what makes discussing a book fun.

    The ‘King of the Cats’ thing was confusing and there are several possible angles. Cats are very independent, and some would argue that they are not social – that is to say that they are not pack animals like dogs. I suppose one could argue that cats, like magicians, or wizards, are loners. Of course I mean in the general sense; cats can be quite affectionate. Then there are the superstitions about cats: a black cat crossing your path is a bad omen, cats are familiars for witches, cats have nine lives, and so on. Cats were venerated in ancient Egypt and I believe that the goddess Bastet was depicted with a Cat’s head.

    I did see what I thought were references or nods to several fairytales in the book – we even see the Brothers Grim appearing. You may see the same or other things.

    I am sure that there is nothing wrong with your memory. If you read it as a teenager, the first love aspect was probably very important to you. IMHO it was certainly important to the story; without Rose’s encouragement, Tom would most likely have given up.

    Thank you for the warm welcome, I was happy to find this place. If you like the subject of wizards, I can recommend several titles when you are done with this one.
     
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  7. LinnyV
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    @BooksandCoffee Brother Grimms appear? I must have missed or forgotten that. Okay, I'm going to go do some real work so I can keep my day job but I'll read a few chapters tonight and see what I come up with. You've got me curious now.

    BTW: I'm really not a cat person. Hopefully there are no cat people reading this because I agree, cats are independent but I'd also go as far to say they come across as rather sinister (to me)...hehe. Even the friendly ones freak me out when they stare intently at me or just appear behind (Arrrrggh!). Maybe that's why Straub picked the "King O' Cat" story out of so many, because as you said, cats are steeped in superstition and a lot of symbolism and are just plain creepy sometimes!

    upload_2016-3-29_10-31-9.png

    I would be interested in a few wizardry titles after I finish this book if they are similar to this. As long as they don't have the harry potter wizardry vibe.

    And yes, you are right. It's nice how you can so simply put into words the things I couldn't because I cannot remember the book enough. But the idea of "First Love" would be a favorite theme of the younger me. If there was ever an alternate ending I'd want to right for a story, this would be it. But I'd have to remember the story first! ;)
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2016
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    ^^^Those words^^^

    It just occurred to me now. The single song that resonates with me on finishing the book was "You are no alone" by Micheal Jackson. Years later, I still associate this song strongly to Shadowland. It could all be faulty memory but I vaguely remember the end when Tom returned to Shadowland and his thoughts of Rose. As I said, all very hauntingly sad to me at the time.

    It'll be my luck the book is NOTHING like I remembered it. :meh:
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2016
  9. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    @BooksandCoffee

    Okay.... I've read 11 chapters and I am reminded why I use to love reading Straub.

    I am also getting why I've heard some people complain about the use of a narrator who was a fellow student and not the main characters (Tom and Del). It's rather...frustrating...

    It all seems to go back to this cat and mouse/I've got a secret and I'm not going to tell you feeling this book has. You feel right away, you can't be sure what you're being told and I'm beginning to think Straub just wants to drive us crazy. I don't think we've even been told of this narrator's name.

    I mean, I don't even know where to start in this post but rather than bombard you with a post that goes on for pages, I'll just start with first scene titled "He Dreams Awake" and I'll cover the rest which I really enjoyed at another time.

    I loved how Straub takes us from Tom lying on the grass pulling up the dandelions as he looks over his neighborhood, and gracefully picks us up and walks us into a fairytale, "one never written". There were so many details I enjoyed but I'll just summarize my interpretation the scene.

    To begin with, I'm being told that Tom is beginning a important stage in his life of moving to high school, on the threshold of adulthood and leaving his childhood behind. That's also the symbology of dandelions, him plucking them and them being mowed over by the neighbor. I loved the use of dandelions because we all associate them with childhood, and also that they have a lot of meaning in their own right. My mind is very fresh with them since I have children who are always picking them and giving them to me. :)

    That man pacing down on the street looking at Tom from afar makes me suspect he's an evil wizard. Or at least representative of the idea that Tom has something somebody wants or evil is after him.

    Then that bird that flew overhead rings a bell as far as memories of birds being associated to magic in this book. So I am thinking this bird is somehow symbolic of Tom or magic or magician. In any case, this bird signals the crossing over of the physical world to the dream (magic) world.

    The appearance of the forest and the fairy tale cottage and meeting this old tired wizard is Tom meeting a spiritual guide in another dimension.

    Digressing a little, given the commentary of people thinking Tom is an under achiever content to be an underrated magician, makes me think the story Shadowland is just a small part of Tom's life purpose. So that we're not going to find out what it is because as old as the wizard is, there's a bigger purpose over a longer time period that will not necessarily be played out in the reality of this book. But it doesn't change the sense of sadness, of being left behind, or the fading of youth and potential that Straub embodies in Tom, but at the same time he seems to be saying that's okay, because what we see as failure is not the full picture. I don't know... I'm thinking myself into a hole over this because in the back of my mind, I keep trying to answer the over-arching question as to why this book has so many questions. :confuzled:

    Anyway, back to Tom entering the cottage and the disappointment felt by the world he closed the door on. That how all this disappointment is somehow connected to that man he's afraid of hints to me of illusions and black magic. Especially when added with the wizard assuring Tom he is safe from the "outside". But what I got really is the idea that the world and reality is all a fairy tale or many fairy tales. I had a Matrix moment. hehehe.

    From all the discussion which is just foretelling us of the challenges Tom will face in his passage to adulthood, I'm told:

    There'll be a girl - that's Rose
    There'll be a wolf - that's Cole the evil wizard.
    His father will die - that I do remember, so it's hinted here.
    His heart will be broken - so I'm braced for the unhappy ending I already knew about.

    But I beg to differ when he said "But you'll never get anything done if you walk around with an unchipped heart. That's the way of it, boy." Hmmmph, how horribly unromantic of this wizard!

    And seriously, the more I think on it, the more I'm peeved for Tom who came through to dream land on the threshold of some major changes, shouldn't he have left with a bit more of a leg up. Instead he got this:

    He appeared very feeble to the boy; for an old old wizard, at the end of his powers, so tired he could barely lift his pipe. "Oh I could show you things," the wizard said. "But there's no use in it. I just wanted you to know...Guess I've said it all. This is a deep, deep wood. Wish I wasn't so blamed old."

    He seemed to fall a sleep

    Wish I wasn't so blamed old???? He almost fell asleep????? Oh come on, are you joking?!

    After not giving the poor boy that much other than hinting of heartbreak and warnings in the form of fairy tales, he does manage to puff his pipe a few times before telling Tom to "Fight the good fight, now."

    I can almost imagine Straub thinking...

    "Nah, I'll just keep them guessing"

    or "Hmm, I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this"

    ...but regardless big stretch and yawn, "I feel rather tired, I should go have a nap like that wizard I just put to sleep..."

    That dream scene was a big hint of future reader frustration or should I say 'You won't get much answers but just think fairy tales' theme. I still really enjoyed it because it was evocative and thought provoking for me (not that I know if I'm even thinking the right things).

    I'll talk about the later scenes in a separate post but for now, I'm interested in your interpretation of the dream, if you have any you want to share that is. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2016
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  10. BooksandCoffee
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    Music @LinnyV? That would start another conversation entirely. We can certainly discuss music, I love music and the affect it has on mood. I should warn you that I am extremely eclectic about music as well. Perhaps we should get through the book first.:)

    The narrator was an interesting point. I got the impression that the author did not want Tom or Del telling the story because they would have a bias. I think he used a narrator to lend a sort of credence to the whole thing – at the end of the story the narrator goes through certain steps to prove things to himself, but I am not going into that since it is near the end. Using the narrator made it seem more real than just using third person omniscient and it let the reader question things as hearsay.

    You brought up some interesting points about Tom lying on the grass pulling up the dandelions. I have less experience with dandelions and children than you do, so I will take your word for it. The scene does seem to indicate a carefree summer that is coming to a close, just as childhood is coming to a close for Tom.

    I agree with you about birds, they are used throughout the story. Is there a possible religious aspect? A dove can be a manifestation of The Holy Spirit. If you entertain the concept of a religious aspect the whole idea of him being told to ‘fight the good fight’ because someone else is too old takes on a new meaning. Flight, is also significant, and if you cannot remember the scene with Tom I will let you get to that part of the book before we discuss it.

    Foreshadowing is neat, but remember that you are seeing all of these possibilities because you have already read the book. You did not see it all the first time.

    Tom as an underachiever had another possibility for me. If I recall correctly, Albert Einstein struggled in school early on, but went on in later life to do great things. Perhaps that is what the author is saying about Tom – that the mundane he struggles with, because of the great magic he is capable of doing.

    Remember, there is no indication that Tom believes that magic is real until he witnesses it firsthand. For me, it was realistic that any premonitions or information that Tom was given were not likely to be of much help. Don’t a lot of children have to learn things the hard way instead of accepting warnings from parents or concerned adults?;)
     
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    Hehehe.... I wasn't kidding when I say that song and this book are glued together in my mind. That's why I wanted to read this book again. Will it feel the same, will I still have the same tune in my head? Be glad it wasn't backstreet boys since we're going back to my teenage years. :D

    Oh it doesn't hurt for you to give me a song back that would reflect the mood of this book for you. At least we'd have something tangible to compare. I'll probably just go...huh? really? I have pretty awful musical taste if I must say so myself.

    I still think it's another trick of avoiding answering questions and keeping it all mysterious and distant. Kind of like a magic trick. That's what Straub is doing, he's tricking us and lulling us with a bed time story. We'll wake up in the end and still be confused. o_O

    But I agree, he has to find ways to prove things, so it's an interesting technique but is still frustrating to me. I actually like the narrator too, I find his observations hilarious in the later chapters. Even frustrated I keep enjoying being taken for what feels like a ride of misdirection.

    Yes, that's why I loved it so much. I would have never made the connection if I didn't have kids because I would have forgotten some of the simple things of my childhood. First flowers my twins picked were the humble dandelions, they're everywhere. :)

    Flight....hmmm, I'll mull over that. It is again mentioned in the other dream with vultures.
    And yes, after I joked about the tired old sleepy wizard, it did occur to me being that old means something, although I'm not a religious soul so I'm going to miss this stuff you mentioned.

    That's the whole point of this review and reading it the second time around. I'm determined to bash some sense out of it and I'm going to cheat and use prior knowledge if I have to. By the end of this, I'll have all the answers mapped out, warped as they may be. ;)

    I can agree, because it's still consistent with what I think. This great magic he is capable of doing, we're not going to read about it in this book.

    Yes, agree. Dreams or the sense of premonitions in real life probably won't make much sense. Also yes, to grow you need to learn it the hard way and not be instructed is what Straub is saying. But still, that wizard was literally sleeping on the job and I prefer to think the author might also have wanted a nap. lol

    I'll put my thoughts about the Carson school experience together in a couple of days. I thought I'd be bored and want to get to Shadowland but it was surprisingly good. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2016
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  12. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    It also just occurred to me on this point, maybe Tom can't be compared to Einstein who struggled in school. Einstein was believed to be retarded and disliked school - he was an oddity. We're told when we meet Tom - at least from where I am up to - that he is a clever, upbeat kid, fits right into school and even has that "preppy" walk - which honestly, I can't picture. He's popular and sensitive, other children want to be his friend. Del wanted to be his friend desperately. People are shocked Tom turned out the way he has, looking worn and working out of seedy clubs doing his little magic tricks.

    To me it still points to the idea that his experience at Shadowland has changed him, has broken him on some level but that he needed those lessons to fulfill his eventual greatness. Maybe Tom is just existing because he knows everything is an illusion...back to the Matrix moment. We'll all eventually wake up from the fairy tale and we'll be very surprised... We're seeing a pathetic man but really, that worn looking guy with the receding hairline - the most powerful magician just bumming around because he can, that life on the not so privileged side is much more interesting and suits his mood, or because he's still heart broken having lost a friend and his first love. In any case, I feel sadness for him but that it's not a bad thing.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2016
  13. BooksandCoffee
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    @LinnyV, you brought up cheesy boy bands? I need a counter spell to clear my mind! I know, Walk like an Egyptian, by The Bangles. I can hear it, now I can see them making the arm gesture, and now I can hear them whistling. Try to get that out of your head. LOL:p

    Unlike you, I do not have one song that comes to mind for the book. For me, it would be more like a play list. If I just had to pick one song that covered the sinister aspects and need for concern it might be, Don’t Pay the Ferryman, by Chris De Burgh.


    I do not equate the author leaving questions unanswered to a magic trick. Stage Magicians use misdirection and suggestion to accomplish what they want. The author is presenting the questions and then leaving you to it. I do agree with you that I wish he had answered more of the questions for us.


    Au contraire, we do see Tom’s great magic – he wins in the end, and does some amazing magic. He overcomes the obstacles and escapes. It is not what I would call a happy ending, but that just brings another song to mind, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, by The Rolling Stones.


    Yes, and that is what I mean. The comparison works; they are sort of the reverse of each other. Just like Einstein, he does not end up the way people envisioned. What I was curious about was how Tom did not end up as the most famous magician in the world.

    I agree with you completely, it has broken him on several levels. The question is what broke him? Was it Shadowland, Coleman, magic, or Rose? Perhaps they all broke him in different ways. I want to let you finish the book and come back to this because I wonder if you remember what Tom took away with him.

    You cannot stand the old wizard sleeping because you have twin energizer bunnies for kids. ;)
     
  14. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    Walk like an Egyptian?
    Ouch! You win that spell song round! More than killed any sappy fingering-clicking boy band groove that I might have had in my brain. I feel oddly unsettled in my skin...

    And Don't Pay the Ferryman? Song sounded vaguely familiar but now I have Cole Collins (I mean what kind of name is that? Do you think Straub just ran out of imagination or he was in a rush with that gem of a character name?) looking like this...:crazy:

    upload_2016-3-31_9-51-58.png

    I didn't have a picture of him in my head other than a long coat assuming it was him showing up at the schools. Now he's going to probably look like De Burgh in some old fashioned dress up....

    Anyway, only had time to listen to the music... :-D

    Will think on the rest of your post later!
     
  15. BooksandCoffee
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    Given the time periods discussed in the book, I saw Coleman as a B/W movie star. I would have to look up really old movies to get a picture of a person in mind; it was more the clothes and feel of some old noir film from a film class that came to mind.
     
  16. LinnyV
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    Anyway, I decided enough was enough, I'm going to have a stab at re-doing the scene to express my displeasure at the tired old sleepy wizard.

    This is what I came up with...

    *************************

    He appeared very feeble to the boy; for an old old wizard, at the end of his powers, so tired he could barely lift his pipe. "Oh I could show you things," the wizard said. "But there's no use in it. I just wanted you to know...Guess I've said it all. This is a deep, deep wood. Wish I wasn't so blamed old."

    He seemed to fall a sleep.

    The boy waved a hand in front of the wizard.

    No movement.

    The boy wondered if the wizard had finally expired from old age at this very unfortunate moment; that he had arrived minutes too late to hear something useful. A sense of annoyance filled the boy. Why was he even here?

    "Are you sleeping or are you dead, wizard?" asked the boy.

    The wizard jolted awake, "I'm tired, boy! Did you not listen? I'm too old, I suppose I will be dead soon."

    "Then maybe it will be a good idea you show me or tell me something of what you hinted. How about this deep, deep wood you spoke of? There's a bad man out there, maybe that's where he should be headed. Isn't it your job to help me? How about a magical sword?" He suddenly had a spark of inspiration and remembered another more useful wizard, "Or maybe a magical ring. I can wear it and disappear..."

    A loud snore rattled the cottage.

    "Wake up!" cried the boy.

    "Arrgh!" yelped the Wizard. He might have jumped up from his seat an inch before rudely landing on his bottom. He took a shaky puff of his pipe to calm himself before he spoke again. "Boy, that was not the way to treat your very elderly elders! Did you mention payment for a job? I only accept gold coins."

    Exasperated, the boy said, "I don't have gold coins. I'm not sure why I'm even here so why would I pay you? You haven't said or done anything other than talk of oldness and uselessness. Why would I pay for that?"

    The wizard grumbled but then grudgingly said, "If you need gold coins you should go find a rainbow. There, at the end of it you will find a big pot. And deep, deep within the pot..."

    The wizard was suddenly overcome with a yawn.

    "I'd find gold coins?" asked the boy, impatiently. Maybe that was his purpose. To get rich and that bad man, he was a burglar scoping out the homes of the neighbourhood.

    "Hogwash! Where's the challenge in that? No," even though he nodded to himself, further confusing the poor boy. He took several puffs of his pipe before he continued, "In the pot you'll find something more important than simple gold coins. You'll find something so rare and fine that if you open your eyes too quickly, they'll disappear into thin air."

    The wizard was waving his hand wildly, shooing away the smoke he'd been blowing about until his face came back into focus. He leaned forward, as if sharing a secret and whispered, "I talk of....Dreams."

    "Pffft! I'm already in a dream," complained the boy, he was deflated and tired of this conversation.

    "Yes, dreams within dreams times by infinity. Can you imagine?"

    The boy looked at him blankly.

    "You can never have enough dreams and deciphering their meanings, and the meaning within those meanings. Given enough time to sleep, you'll be wealthy with knowledge. Take me as proof of that!" The wizard threw his arms wide as if to an audience.

    "Uh...I see what you mean," replied the boy, he didn't but he was beginning to regret making too many demands on the old wizard. He was really thinking it may have been better that the wizard was tired and sleepy.

    "Good boy. There's a wealth of hidden knowledge in dreams. You just need to know what to look for."

    "Birds? Like the one that flew above before I came here?" the boy asked. Again, his curiosity got the better of him.

    "Ah yes, the birds." The wizard's eyes flickered and his gaze turned sly. The boy watched the old face rearrange until the features looked hawkish. He rationalized that he was in a dream, possibly a dream within a dream or something or other. That he should expect this.

    "There will be many birds, with beady little eyes. Watch for them, for they will be watching you..." An evil cackle escaped through the gaps around the pipe hanging off the wizard's mouth. "Peck, peck, peck..."

    The boy took a little step back and glanced behind to the door, thinking it might be time to leave. He looked back to the wizard, worried and wanting to keep an eye on the weird old man. But the wizard seemed to fall a sleep again. The pipe drooped in his mouth and his hands trembled in his lap. Then his watery eyes opened. "No brothers or sisters, correct?"

    The boy nodded.

    *************************

    Okay, after the above exercise, I think it would be much better that I leave the wizard to do as he pleases. ;)
     
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  17. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    Still have to disagree and I feel more so reading it a second time. Straub's deliberately not wanting to show us everything as oppose to just presenting us with questions. I'll get back to this later when I've read more of it but I feel like he's playing the magician with his writing.
    I don't remember exactly what he does at the end, but I assume he will defeat Cole. So if that is the great magical moment then I'm not sure I'll be that overwhelmed. I am expecting him to get a win but is it his bigger purpose? I keep thinking not. Maybe it'll be the great magic that will blow my socks off? I'll keep you posted.
    You've confused me with this - what do you mean?

    If you are referring to Tom being a dead beat magician. I think he just didn't care to be. Simple as that. I've read enough of the book now to get the memo that says a true magician is beyond that kind of fame. I've included the excerpt from the conversation between Tom and Del as a reminder:

    “He says a magician must be apart from ordinary life—he has to make himself new, because he has a special project. To do magic, to do great magic, he has to know himself as a piece of the universe.”
    “A piece of the universe?”
    “A little piece that has all the rest of it in it. Everything outside him is also inside him. You see that?”
    “I guess.”
    “Well, if you do, then you can see why I want to be a magician. Science is all head, right? Sports is all body. A magician uses all of himself. Uncle Cole says a magician is in synthesis. Synthesis. He says you’re part music and part blood, part thinker and part killer. And if you can find all that in you and control it, then you deserve to be set apart.”
    “So it’s about control. About power.”
    “Sure it is. It’s about being God.”

    Maybe he's too busy synthesizing with the "Universe" and a Lounge comparable to a "Toilet" was as good a place as any to do it. He's working on a higher God-like plane we're not aware of. ;)

    I guess this will be what we'll talk more of as we get to the end, why is Tom the way he was AFTER shadowland?

    And no, I do not know what he took. You have me really curious.

    I am only at around 20%. It's quite a long book but I think I've reached the end of the honey moon period. I think the gloves might be coming off as I'm expecting unpleasantness ahead.

    And I think De Burgh is perfectly fine as a Cole. I'm sticking with him. :)
     
  18. BooksandCoffee
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    LOL ::clapping hands:: nicely done @LinnyV

    Why does that little scene in the book bother you so much? Tom was nervous about the man across the street. The wizard tells him that he is in a safe place and that the house with the wizard would always be a safe place (perhaps there is a lesson there that Tom can always find a safe place by looking inside himself and trusting himself). It is made clear that it is the oldest wizard in the world although no actual number of years is given. There are things revealed and if Tom had remembered them, they might have helped him. Sure there are questions – was this something that Coleman did to Tom, was it God trying to help Tom, was it Tom subconsciously using his abilities to reveal things and help him prepare for what was to come? We, the readers, are left to wonder, and so is Tom.

    After reading your redo, I am wondering what you have against the Harry Potter series.
     
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    Oh, you have forgotten so much! You have some surprises coming. Tom works real magic at Shadowland, but you will have to wait to read it yourself. He also does a magic trick while the narrator is talking to him. It is a card trick, and I would encourage you to pay very close attention to it.

    The quotes are hearsay; presumably, the narrator is telling us what Tom told him that Del said that Coleman said. It is all very Zen, and very religious, and when you get to see what Tom found and took, it might all make more sense. The point I am making is that Tom works real magic even with the narrator. He is also making a living as a magician. With what he learned at Shadowland, he could make magicians like David Copperfield feel like amateurs. So the question is why doesn’t he? Maybe he was left too broken, and maybe the religious aspect is simply too much for him to deal with.

    So, you are prejudiced against Irish/British. LOL;)

    I have done some research because of your remarks about the name of the Uncle. First, remember the time period of the book and the character. Cab Calloway III was a famous bandleader of the period – think the name might have had an influence on the author since the initials are CC and Coleman Collins is CC.

    I am not sure if you remember, but in the book, Coleman explains where he got the name.
     
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  20. LinnyV
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    @BooksandCoffee

    The Carson School Experience / Frosty the Snowman?

    I had quite a few laugh out loud moments because the observations of the narrator were really funny. As I mentioned previously, I didn't expect my time at the school would be interesting, but it was. I've highlighted words so you don't get completely blinded and lost in the wall of text. :D

    I am your salvation - the sound of evil, of that flabby jealous devil of the second-rate, proclaiming itself.

    So Carson has the facade of a prestigious stuffy school and uses "menacing discipline" to disguise it was at best, a second-rate school with a third-rate headmaster, Laker Broome.

    On registration day, the situation is disorganized and the new students are forced to stand in a dark corridor lit by candles (blown fuse) because the school secretary can't find some keys. So we're given the dark gothic mansion feel. We have a motley crew of kids that don't seem exceptional at anything and are especially bad at sports. They're greasy and hopeless looking and we've given the sense that we're dealing with the C team or lower. And unfortunately for them, being such a small class, all of them have to be on the football team according to the teacher, Mr Ridpath that takes charge of the situation.

    Mr Ridpath has some sort of head that is comparable to a turtle and a plank but that doesn't matter to me. I'm lazy, so I just pictured Severus Snape as a loud mouth aggressive coach. He's firing orders and telling each boy which position they'll play and what they need to do to get up to scratch. We already know that this school does not excel at school competition because Ridpath comes across as desperate as he does. Most of the boys are freaking out, which was the hilarious part for me. In the background, the other teachers are just hanging around bored, highlighting the inefficiency of the situation.

    Already, Del is made to be a runt and David Brick gets the unkindly fat kid treatment from Ridpath. It's in the late 50s, so there won't be assault charges made against a teacher grabbing a student by his hair and telling him to cut it. Looks like poor David will have a bad time at this school and Del clearly needs a friend to stick up for him. Tom's quick to make the connection over some deck of cards and magic tricks.

    The teachers are all clearly flawed in different ways with the exception of the English teacher, who seems to be romanticized into the very cool, stylish and "languid looking" Mr Fitz-Hallan. He's the poster boy of what the Carson School produces. He's one of the three images that our narrator remembers about the school. Mr Fitz-Hallan makes a point of being nice to the "sweaty, doomed David", which the narrator then observes: "We were so raw that we could be seduced by civility". This has me thinking: So is Mr Fitz-Hallan a child molester?

    Mr Fitz-Hallen is not a child molester from what I can see so far in my reading.

    Then we meet the Headmaster the boys would later calls "Lake the Snake". So with his office being at the heart of the school and described with a church/priest vibe, I started to think again: So is Laker Broome a child molester?

    Laker Broome is not a child molester (as far as I know) but he likes to scare his students with fairy tales. These students throw up and go all sickly. Personally, I'm not quite sure why these teenagers have such weak stomachs that they're wanting to puke at some words. They're not 5 years old.

    And Sherman, the smart ass of the class gets called to the headmaster's office and told the story of what happens to you when you tell tasteless remarks. Which basically ends with dogs coming to attack you. So if this is the "horror" part of Straub's horror story, it's going to disappoint a lot of people. There's no flesh being torn up, no blood, no gore and just a bit of growling at the end by Broome's doberman, which we're not even aware was there. Not to sound blood thirsty, but it's not even scary so these kids need to harden up.

    So yes, the oppressive nature of the school and the whole way the system is run, especially with the teachers yelling and scaring the kids and the older students tormenting the younger ones creates an environment ripe for abuse. That's why I'm always expecting an child molester to appear around the corner.

    A near attempt happens from Ridpath's son in the older class but Tom saves the day. Good on you, Tom! The only kid that won't hesitate to kick the bully's bony ass. He's nicknamed Skeleton and somehow connected to Cole and sees the birds too. So far, he's just getting skinnier and creepier and more evil. Why the younger kids don't just gang up and beat him up because he's that awful is beyond me. I mean, he's whittling away into a bag of bones so he shouldn't be too much of a challenge. But he's like the child that can do no wrong, only because he is so wrong no one wants to deal with him - even his father who is a teacher at the school. I guess he's the boogeykid.

    And you're right about the zen/meditation references and I keep noting the magic references too. Did you notice the "Indian on a bed of nails" reference? I popped my head up on that? What Indian on a bed of nails? Is it some sort of rage I'd never heard about but thanks wiki:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bed_of_nails

    But note that even though it's all hearsay which this book is told from, it doesn't mean that Del's account is inaccurate or that Cole doesn't know what he's talking about even if he's evil. I think it's Straub's way of passing on to us the laws of being a magician.

    The football team never wins as far as I can see...No surprise. Is it there just to highlight how lame Del is? Tom and Del become best friends. They bond over magic and it seems like that the only thing Del is any good at is card tricks. Maybe that's why Tom likes card tricks so much later on in life, besides technique it also makes him feel closer to his old friend. But otherwise, Del is a coward. On first visiting Del's home and meeting Bud Copeland, Tom starts to get hallucinations at least once a month. So Tom is "dreaming awake". He says things appear that are like stuff out of fairy tales. I was a bit slow in realizing that Del's surname was a bird name "Nightingale". He had to be called "Birdy" for me to get it... duh!

    But then it made me think, what might the bird "Nightingale" symbolize in this book. So quick google says in literature it's often used to mean "Sorrow" that goes back to a greek myth that doesn't seem relate-able to Del other than his greek heritage. So I also found it could be related to the "voice of nature". And then determined to find meaning in a name where they probably isn't, I googled "Del". That could mean "of the" or "He gives".

    SO...

    Of the voice of nature?
    He gives voice of nature?
    Of the sorrow?
    He gives sorrow?


    Maybe that's our answer found through the hidden meanings in the name. Del is the source of sorrow that breaks Tom. And the other meaning, being at one with nature is a calling of a magician right? hehehe....I am so grabbing at straws.

    Oh, and I see what you mean re the Irish/British prejudicial depiction of Cole. For a moment there I wondered if you were implying I needed to think outside the box and imagine he was Zulu or something, I'm Chinese myself for goodnesssakes! So I'm guessing I need someone with a Mediterranean twist. *sigh* I really thought De Burgh made a good mundane, unattractive looking middle aged man/magician that can be killed off.

    I mean, I have to think of that hilarious observation by the narrator "For the first time in my life I saw truth in the old proposition that the rich were better looking". I wouldn't want to kill off good looking people in my mind, or are you saying Cole is fabulously wealthy, so to keep in theme of this book he needs to be more glamorous? LOL, I can't get the ferryman out of my head anyway so that is your fault. He'll have to stay unfortunately. :p

    There's some sort of triangle thing going on between Del, Skeleton and Cole. It has to be Cole that appears at the schools and he has some sort of mystical hook on Skeleton.

    The second image that sticks with the narrator was when Skeleton in all his madness whips poor Del with his belt. So are we having another religious flagellation moment? Not my thing. But again, it frustrates me that no one steps up or gets together and just snaps this skinny creepy bully in half. Tom's away and can't help because he's dealing with his father's health problems.

    Unlike some other stories where paranormal activity happens and the "muggles" don't seem to notice, in this story, they are bystanders as things happen. But being ordinary people, they tend to explain it away because it couldn't have happened. We get to see magic a couple of times through the narrator. The first is a pencil that floats in mid area, the second is stolen item which was a crystal owl that comes to life. So maybe that is what you mean @BookandCoffee about non bias views to add credibility. But then for the narrator to see Del's healing from his whipping miraculously, then you have to wonder.... Did the whipping actually happen? Especially since Del refuses to acknowledge it. I wonder if this is not some sort of secret magicians' business thing.

    The School starts to be overrun with a bit of madness. The students start a campaign of posting nightmares on the bulletin board. And really, it's all kind of silly and the stories aren't even suggestively scary.

    So back to this business of "flight" you mentioned. I just realized in writing this, that it is in the school motto. "He flies by his own wings." So there it is again, birds and flight. I'm also beginning to think this school has it's own life, maybe it's powered by black magic.

    For some reason I keep hearing Laker yelling in my ear, "It's never the school that fails, it is YOU!!!!"

    I'm going to have to believe that back in the old days schools like this did exist...

    And back to the chapter titled "Frosty the Snowman" - I failed to see the connection, where was Frosty in the big auditorium? I'm very literal and I happen to like the Frosty the Snowman tune for Christmas. And then as I was typing this I realized, maybe I should look closer at the lyrics and see what the fuss might be about.

    A quick google and I think this person's analysis pretty much sums it up:
    http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/frosty-snowman-evil-behind-false-jollity.html

    And another music moment, just in case you're not listening.

    I found an old 50s animated cartoon of Frosty the Snowman to keep in time of what kids might have thought of the snowman then. He is very unlike the warm and friendly character of today and I see what the blogger meant by the snowman being a "Christmas interloper from Hell". I've never given it a thought that religious folks might have a problem with the snowman.



    I mean the animation would naturally be crude back then, but the person who did the drawings didn't seem to be trying to make the snowman look exactly harmless by the time we get to the end of the song...

    upload_2016-4-1_10-31-16.png

    So back to the auditorium and I'm thinking... it's a new year, there's Mr "Broome" and he represents everything wrong about the school, and you can't get rid of him because he'll be back every year, and when you add the hat that gives life....Frosty the snowman = the evil magician/black magic.

    So now thanks to this book, I can't see Frosty quite in the same light anymore. Apparently Rudolf is an evil song too, but not as evil as our frosty friend above.

    And finally Tom's father dies. :(

    I don't talk about Tom too much, but he's a favourite character on equal standing with the narrator who I still don't have a name. Do you think Straub is pretending it is him? ;)

    I think I've burnt myself and you out. So to sum it all up, I will say that for a horror book, it's more about horrible people at this point. I do remember Straub as being adept in making things come across as truly horrible, but nothing is that sickeningly horrible so far that leaves a lasting feeling of awfulness.

    I'm sure there's so much I missed, but there's so much there. I have to be wearing you down with so much content, so another time but I've caught up to writing about where I'm currently reading to.

    Yay!!!! If you manage to read all of the above, you have amazing patience!

    I'll respond to your above questions in a separate post at a later point. I don't want to kill you with text overload. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2016
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  21. BooksandCoffee
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    @LinnyV of course I read it all, and enjoyed it.:) I would never have started posting here if I did not intend to read all the posts. Your posts are great and the discussion is intellectually stimulating.

    I was only kidding about you being prejudiced, that is why I added the wink emoji. So, do you speak Mandarin or Cantonese? I would love to learn those languages!

    Severus Snape as a loud mouth aggressive coach, interesting, I never thought of him as athletic. He was a complicated character, but hardly the image of a jock. Wait, I had the impression that you did not like the Harry Potter series.

    If I am remembering correctly, the school was private and had rich kids, so the whole idea of them having to play football seemed odd to me. It would explain the staff eccentricities, but should also have indicated a higher scholastic standard. It does fit the whole idea of the student failing the school instead of the other way around. Image and prestige would be the big deal, the idea that they were superior by virtue of their being admitted.

    Del Nightingale was a great name, but it made me wonder about the uncle. Obviously, since the uncle’s last name was not Nightingale, he had to be related on the mother’s side – at least until we learn that Coleman picked his own name. Birds and flight are themes that are used throughout the book.

    The rich certainly think they are better looking, and they have the money to pamper themselves. If you think about the description of Shadowland and the surrounding property, Coleman certainly was rich. He was not preforming anymore, so he was retired and living on savings or investments. There was no indication that he was ever concerned with money, but he was concerned with image. Given that he toured Europe as a stage magician, I envision him as having to appear dapper and distinguished. If you consider the famous magicians of the period, they do have a certain look.


    You really thought De Burgh made a good mundane, unattractive looking middle aged man/magician that can be killed off? You cold woman.;) LOL Then I guess his daughter got all her looks from the mother. His daughter Rosanna is an Irish actress, singer, model and beauty queen who was the winner of the Miss World 2003 title.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosanna_Davison

    The reference to the bed of nails might go back to the time period in the book, which covers the golden age of magic. Magic shows had bigger stars and grander illusions, and the concept of forbidden and foreign magic was a big deal. Fakirs and their beds of nails and other feats were mysterious. Although the rumoured Indian Rope Trick was supposedly the biggest idea of the time, magicians today still talk about it.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_rope_trick

    Excellent catch @LinnyV! We are shown real magic at several points, even before we get to Shadowland and there are hints that there are people in the world with the potential, but most people do not believe in real magic so it remains hidden. The visible and invisible, or hidden, seems to be a theme as well and may refer back to the religious angle.

    Frosty the Snowman or Walk Like an Egyptian, you will have one of them stuck in your head for a while. I like what you linked for the evil side of the lyrics to Frosty, but then when you think about it, fairytales as originally written were not the Disney stories we think of; the Brothers Grimm that appear are a perfect example. Have you read any of their original tales?

    I think that the unnamed narrator is a tool that the author uses to lend credence to the story. I do not think the narrator is Tom, because in the end the narrator goes to great lengths to prove that what he was told was true.
     
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  22. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    I know, I was joking right back. ;) But I did wonder what I might have missed in Cole's description.
    Cantonese is a very distant second language now. :(

    In my reading of Ridpath, I didn't picture him as particularly athletic at all. In my mind he was anti-jock (wannabe-jock?) and an incompetent coach, so the team was doomed anyway. My brain was too busy trying to figure out which way to turn the plank to measure the width of his head, and what on earth a pursey snapping turtle face looked like on a person. Snape appeared because I did think tall, gangly and greasy. :)

    But back to addressing your previous questions about why I have a problem with the sleepy wizard. I'm not sure if you remember but I really don't encounter wizards in the stories I read. So I couldn't help feel a little short-changed that the token wise wizard of this one novel was a bit slack. Still, I've well and truly got over that. It took writing an alternate and getting rather fed up with it that I realized, yeah it's kinda wearisome. Straub had it right - figure it out yourself, boy!

    And about my anti-Harry Potter-ness. I've only watched 2 movies out of the franchise so I guess that would mean I'm not a fan. I don't mind it, but it doesn't excite me. I tried to read the book once in my twenties but I remember it to be too juvenile for me. Didn't get beyond the first few pages. I loved 'The Hunger Games' which felt rather young, so it might have been the J.K Rowling's writing combined with the fact I'm not interested in a group of wizard children. Too much of a bubble-gummy wonder of witches, wizards and spells.

    At the start, the narrator tells us that Shadowland was set at a time when the School was trying to find it's identity and establish a reputation. So everything was about image and a losing team also indicated they didn't have the money to buy athletes as hinted later on.

    I was confused to be honest. I thought it was the school where the wealthier sent their reject kids, so why did the new kids look poor?

    So more googling. I've never been one to care too much about the meanings behind character names. But since I started with Del then I may as well investigate "Coleman Collins". I think it may be more than the "CC" thing you mentioned earlier, so here's some more stuff for you to ponder on.

    Coleman is an English name derived from "Colm" meaning "Dove". Refer back to your comment re manifestation of The Holy Spirit. This book is an aviary of birds!

    and Collins, check out the coat of arms. Wings feature....
    upload_2016-4-2_13-22-11.png

    Okay okay! You've now turned me off De Burgh. Without even trying to, you've taken him down another notch in my scale of attractiveness! Now he just comes across as a boring looking middle aged man in dress-up!

    So to keep it generic, I've grabbed this pic from the web. You can fill in the facial heritage but the hat and coat must stay. ;)
    upload_2016-4-2_13-39-0.png

    Refer to response above.

    And yeah, I'm feeling the chill from myself. Can I blame the evil in the book sliding up through my finger tips from my iPhone? hehehe

    Not that I want to turn this thread into a gossip mag, but please study this family pic @BooksandCoffee ...
    upload_2016-4-2_13-49-12.png

    Yes, this is the essence of the book for me.

    Also yes, I would have read a lot of them as a child, including Greek mythology, but I don't remember them much. When I read back as an adult I'm shocked I read that stuff at the age I did. The Grimm stuff is pretty awful. Not that some of the modern interpretations are any better. Over a year ago I binned a modern interpretation of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale. Reading a bed time story where one of the princesses was drugging the soldier was not suitable for 4 year olds!

    When I read back, I realized I was unclear in my wording.

    I didn't mean Tom being the narrator.

    I still don't know if the narrator's name is ever revealed but he's a writer. So what I meant was, did you think maybe Peter Straub saw himself as the narrator?

    Finally, I'm sure you've been at the reading end of my longest online posts ever and I'm pretty long winded. But I appreciate you coming along for the ride with me so far. I'll give you a rest over the weekend and get back to reading Shadowland next week. I've hardly done any writing from all the reading I did this week. :)

    Take care for now!
    Linny
     
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  23. BooksandCoffee
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    I understand what you mean about the coach, I just see a coach, especially at a private school, as having some background in athletics. Perhaps he has gone to seed, but at some point, I expected him to have been athletic.

    I read all the Harry Potter series before I saw the movies. The idea that she got children so interested in reading was wonderful. News reports showed children getting their parents to wait in line with them until midnight for the release of a new book, and kids would finish the book over the weekend. If nothing else, those books made at least one new generation love books.

    The idea that the rich were sending their reject children there is an interesting thought that had not occurred to me. I just figured it was for the nouveau riche or barely above middle class.

    I think there is more than just the ‘CC’ connection as well, but some of the others are later in the book. The constant association with birds and flight is fascinating. I wonder if we are seeing more references than the author intended.

    Ah the mystery of magic and magicians will always exist. Okay, you win with the pic, but the daughter is a babe!

    Now there you may have something – the idea that the author is casting himself in the story as a physical narrator is interesting. Why not, it is even possible that the author knew a school like that, or had friends that he based Tom and Del on.

    Have a great weekend.
     
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  24. LinnyV
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    I ended up finishing Book One last night and started a bit of Two. So while this is fresh in my mind...

    I agree. Not having an issue with the series but just not the books I'll grab off the shelf.

    It's really a minor detail and not a big deal. I think sometimes Straub gets carried away with mundane details and this might be one of them. Did you remember reading right at the start when he was telling us his writing process of Shadowland? He described his office/house in boringly great detail.

    I was also just listening to Straub talking about his writing process and apparently he adds "random matter" into his stories, so this may be it. ;)

    I think writers would subconsciously put meaning to something that further validates their idea. Or to word it differently, we could use words and items that seem natural, but it's because we've got preconceived ideas as to what they mean from our experiences (implied through stuff we've read or seen), even if we don't think them directly. Not sure I make any sense. But I know every time I read my work to my husband, he almost always finds meaning I didn't deliberately put there. So they're based of his own knowledge of the world as he tries to make sense of what I wrote. I love this as I think any writer should!

    As far as the birds, I don't think we're seeing more into what the author intended. I think it's trying to decipher how they're being used. Are they being used as familiars or are they actually the magicians manifesting into their spiritual self. Probably both, but with the latter being the most important. Refer back to the School motto.

    I really think the author is having fun picking names that relate to ideas he's playing with.

    So next up,Tom Flanagan. To me it's a pretty plain sounding name that makes me think of your average boy next door. But this is what I found:

    Tom = Twin - Besides the religious context, twins are associated to evil magic in some cultures. Then there's also the whole thing about Del and Tom. Are they like some sort of reflection of each other but only Tom has all the qualities Del hasn't.

    From my very vague memory, I do know that the bird in the dream (owl?) didn't choose Del - but I can't remember much of that. I'm looking forward to seeing what Tom did take.

    Before we get to that big decision point, Straub keeps highlighting Del's not following those rules of being a magician. He doesn't see the world, he's not at one with it. He's the type that is well read on a matter but sucks at applying the principles when it matters most. So when Tom was saving the kids from the fire, all Del cared about was the magic equipment and musical instruments in the auditorium. That's important to him, not the people, not the world. It's pretty awful the way Del justifies that he could hear everyone yelling and screaming to mean they were fine.

    Not the makings of a true magician.

    Even the way he behaves on the train to the waiter shows he's looking in and not out. To be a magician and isolating yourself, it doesn't mean you shouldn't be observing those around you. Can't understand the meaning of life and all it's secrets if you're blind to it.

    Flanagan = comes from a gaelic name was derived from the word "flann," which means red or ruddy.

    That's too much of a coincidence that the Bud likes to call Tom "Red".

    Yes, I know there's the red blonde hair and then there's the'Little Red Riding Hood"theme.

    I've also been trying to figure out what lesson of that fairy tale is Straub using. From all the interpretations, I think we're going back to the concept that Shadowland is a coming of age story. So I'm thinking it's a rite of passage where Tom is on his way to being a man/magician, but he needs to be careful of the wolves in the "deep, deep forest".

    And do you remember? The second visit to the cottage, the old wizard wimped out completely or was over come by evil. Left poor Tom in the dark to watch a 'foreshadowing' shadow play. :bigmeh:

    So was it a warning from the old wizard or a taunt from Cole? I think it's a case of take your pick, either one will work.

    Anyway, I'm still thinking the Nightingale name has more meaning, but I'm going to wait until the story unfolds more to see.

    It relates to the idea I remember that Cole wanted to do Del harm, he wanted to steal Del's magic? My memory may be faulty and none of this happened.

    I think Cole's agenda is seducing all the 'special' kids with the promise of magical greatness; he's really just a magic hungry vampire that wants it all for himself. He's been doing this to Skeleton who is vulnerable because the teenager is all wrong. As seen by his room plastered with sick imagery which is how he connects with the universe. I found a reference that an owl can also represent death when they are trying to get in through the window. So going back to that scene where Skeleton sees a giant owl bashing at his window, maybe it's telling us that Skeleton is dying. That's why he's so frightened, that the eagle in his room might come to life. Cole might just come and finish him off.

    That flagellation scene which continues to bother me could be a demonstration of a trance like state triggered by heightened senses using pain. Well, the story even said that Del was in a trance and the boys had to snap him out of it. This opened a connection to another reality where magic could happen. During this cross over, the crystal owl comes to life, as well as the wounds that disappear as if they were never there. Am I making you dizzy?

    And finally, here's a totally nonsensical connection I thought worthy of a laugh.

    Rose Armstrong

    I'll ignore Rose because that's self explanatory but "Armstrong"... I think that's pretty obvious. Her kind aren't exactly famed for their lower limbs. Maybe Straub's having a joke to himself.:D

    You begin the realize as you read on, that Straub is letting us know that magic is constantly at play. There are nods at fairy tales that serve as warning bells and are intertwined with on magical concepts.

    For example:
    "Flame-girdled toad with a jewel in its forehead and a key in its mouth."

    Toad with a key in his mouth. Frog prince I assume. The key is the kiss.
    Jewel in his forehead = Toad stones which are mythical stones with magical properties
    Toads = associated to magic and can be involved in spells in different ways.

    At the start of Book Two, Tom thinks he saw Skeleton boarding the train and heading to Shadowland with them. There's a dream/black magic happening when Tom goes to find Skeleton, but who is dreaming them? Cole or Skeleton? Tom thinks Skeleton, I suspect Cole. The strange observations such as mentioning of Rose doesn't feel to be Tom consciousness. Then the cobwebs, the hunting birds and the toads are all ingredients relating to magic. Not sure what's with the 10 year old girls flouncing up the aisle in identical calico dresses. I again thought twins. As if he's walking through a corridor into an evil domain as he passes between them. None of it is necessary unless it's pointing to a spell being weaved into Tom's reality.

    lol ;)

    Going back the end of Book One, we get the third image of the narrator before we leave Carson. It's interesting David is killed using fire. Tom finally realizes years later: "The school was Shadowland too." That's become obvious to us.

    Anyway all of the above could just be the product of my imagination but it's fun. It's making me re-think the story I was playing with that uses the ideas of magic.

    Scary is still very absent in this story so far... I hope I get even a little chill before the end of this book.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2016
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  25. BooksandCoffee
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    BooksandCoffee Member

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    Yes, I do remember what you are talking about; the author does get caught up in minutia. The part about describing the office and process seemed extreme. It was certainly more than I would want to deal with.

    That sounds reasonable, so in essence you seem to be saying that the author’s subconscious is putting references into the work that the he is not even aware of as he writes. Of course, things of significance to the author may not be significant to the reader.

    I am not sure that the names are quite as deep as you think, but they could be. It is also possible that he just made them up, or combined names from people he knew at some point. He may have used a name generator or simply opened a phone book randomly. It is, however, tempting to see them as deliberate attempts to get a hidden meaning across. I am not sure about the name Armstrong, but Rose is replete with possible angles: the blossoming sexuality, the entrance into a hidden new world of magic. The phrase sub rosa, means under the rose. There is a secret aspect to the rose; it is the symbol for The Rosicrucians – considered a secret society. We also must not forget the quote from Act 2, scene 2 of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: What's in a name? that which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet.

    I do not want to get too far ahead of where you are, but the Collector, and later one of the magic props, seem to imply the religious concept of taking the soul, or possessing a person.

    Fire is another thing that keeps coming up in the book, and could represent cleansing. In ancient times, people thought to be in league with the Devil were burned at the stake.
     
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