Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Game

I think that I tried to read Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer's Socery & Cecilia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot a few years ago when it first came out. I have this vague recollection of trying vigilantly to read it during one of my Sunday night soaks before deeming it uncompelling. I'm not really sure why I would do this. Maybe it just wasn't the right time. Maybe it was hard to get into.

Even this time I did have to get used to the tone before really immersing myself in it. Once I did, however, I found myself enjoying the book immensely. Told completely via a correspondance between the two cousins, Cecy and Kate, their story (set in post-Napoleonic war England) is filled with intrigue, romance and magic. It's kind of a Jane Austen meets Tolkien meets Susanna Clarke affair. (The latter in more ways than one - I sometimes have trouble settling in with her tone as well and her stories also tend to deal with magic.)

The best thing about it, however, is how it came to be. The book started as a Letter Game (also known as Persona Letters or Ghost Letters). The idea is that each person participating takes on a persona and writes the other as that character. The plot developes as the letters are written and neither participant is to tell the other what her plot idea is. As a writing exercise, it sounds like great fun. For some reason it makes me think of the unfinished spoof romance (Pammyana: A Woman of Many Appetites) that Jen and I started writing together a million years ago. It featured a soup can heiress by the name of Pamelina Anastasia De La Croixville whose love interest was a bunion plagued dance pop singer known for his big dance extravaganzas and was loosely based on George Michael and it was awesome (in its silliness). For a time when I was away at school, we took turns e-mailing each other chapters. Knowing how much fun we had doing this (and also how much fun Anne and I had writing our opus about Derrida, Kevin and the Topf Ring), I can only think that the Letter Game has to be equally entertaining (and that I have, in my old age, somehow lost a love of collaboration that I apparently once had...I bet it could be regained, though...)

Meanwhile, however, if you've not read Sorcery & Cecilia, I can recommend it. It won't take long. It is the perfect escape into another world for days when your job is making you want to chuck your computer through a window. Not that I would know anything about that.

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