At StellarCon this year we were able to attend a midnight reading of The Princess and Mr. Whiffle by Patrick Rothfuss.
That was a really neat, rare, one of a kind opportunity that I wasn’t going to let pass by.
The Princess and Mr. Whiffle, published by Subterranean Press, is printed in a children’s format, but isn’t a child’s book.
I’m not going to lie to you, it’s not one of my most favorite books ever, but that’s not really important.
What is important is what Rothfuss is doing with the book.
It has a twisted ending. I was going to use “surprise” there, but that’s the wrong word. All books worth their shit have a surprise ending. No, this is …yes, twisted.
Now that you have that twist, and better understand the underlying character motivation, the book reads completely different upon a re-read. It’s an entirely new book.
In all good illustrated books, the illustrations and the words have a synergistic relationship, more than the sum of their parts. Very much so in this book.
The first time reading the book, the illustrations are innocent and candy-land/fairytale-like. The second time through, the optical illusion of “seeing what you expect to see” dissolves and you see what’s really there.
We often go into books reading what we expect to read and can be blinded to a favorite author’s faults or whatever. We see what we expect to see.
Rothfuss recommends that you re-read Name of the Wind upon finishing Wise Man’s Fear, and both again upon finishing the forthcoming Book 3.
I guess I’m not really asking a question in this Friday Chat. More like something to think about and discuss.
We’ve all discussed before the value of re-reading. Before this Rothfuss event, re-reading to me was simply revisiting with an old friend. Catching up, sharing a cup of tea. Now, I’m re-thinking this concept.
Here’s what I mean.
There’s the re-read in which YOU are a different person than the person living in your body who read the book before. For example, reading The Chronicles of Narnia as a child and again as an adult are two vastly different experiences because of the 25 years of baggage that I’ve accumulated squishing my childish sense of wonder and delight. I’ve changed, not the story.
Then there’s the re-read in which the story changes because you bring with you the pre-knowledge and anticipation of what happens to those characters. This example from me is re-reading Green Rider (Kristen Britain) via audio. I’ve read this book twice, but this time (read #3), after having read book four in the series (just published last year) there are bits and pieces of Green Rider that–the first time around–were just descriptors or off-hand comments. Now, “I know what that means” or “I know where this is going” and catching these small bits in book 1 after reading book 4 these bits have new information for me. The book has changed.