Wednesday, September 06, 2006

RfP Wednesday: Tam Lin

I haven't participated in Reading-for-Pleasure Wednesday before, but this week I've got a good one. I'm smack in the middle of Pamela Dean's Tam Lin, which I'd read as a teenager but forgot about until a post a while back at Light Reading. It's a retelling of a Scottish ballad, set at a liberal-arts school in the Midwest. It so happens my sister goes to this particular school (not one that any reader of this blog is affiliated with, as far as I can tell), so I can recognize some of the small place-details, which is fun.

The book (written in 1991 but set in the '70s, and thus appealingly including items of clothing like daishikis and bell-bottoms) follows Janet, a prospective English major who loves children's books, through her freshman year and beyond, into an entanglement with the supernatural and fairy-like... Classics majors. It's obvious Dean has tremendous affection for people who love books - the opening of the first chapter, in fact, is dedicated to a description of the dorm room bookshelves:
"The year Janet started at Blackstock College, the Office of Residential Life had spent the summer removing from all the dormitories the old wooden bookcases that, once filled with books, fell over unless wedged. Chase and Phillips's A New Introduction to Greek was the favorite instrument for wedging; majors in the Classics used the remedial math textbook, but this caused the cases to develop a slight backward tilt, so that doughnuts, pens, student identification cards, or concert tickets placed on top of them slid with indistinguishable slowness backward and eventually vanished dustily behind. The generally harried air of most Classics majors was attributed by their friends and roommates entirely to their reliance on an inferior wedging system for their bookcases."
Janet herself demonstrates what is known in book-heroine speak as "pluck" in praiseworthy amounts.


Jane Dark said...

I love this book. Some friends who do indy film actually cast me as Janet, and we filmed a few scenes several years ago. They were trying to get funding/permissions by showing that they could do it; alas, no luck. But it was fun to shoot.

kermitthefrog said...

My first reaction -- I always imagine you as tall! Too bad the film didn't work out...

Jane Dark said...

Me, tall? How delightful a thought. My feet dream of being tall, at size 8.5, and they are only rewarded in that I get to trade shoes with all my tall friends. But I am just under 5'3."

I wish it had worked out, too, but I can't believe that Hollywood would've let me stay in.