Review: The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller by Joanne Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Two of my favourite things coming together, Doctor Who and Joanne Harris in this short story! As soon as I discovered this existed or was to exist, it was pre-ordered. Read on two legs of a train journey I absolutely adored it; inevitable really. Won’t say much about it as being a short story it is too easy to to accidentally drop in spoilers, but suffice to say if you like The Doctor and Joanne Harris, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, then you’ll love this sweet and twisted 3rd Doctor tale!

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The Importance of Story

Just read this by Joanne Harris in the Telegraph:

Stories – even fairy stories – are not just entertainment. Stories are important. They help us understand who we are. They teach us empathy, respect for other cultures, other ideas. They help us articulate concepts that cannot otherwise be expressed. Stories help us communicate; they bring us together; they teach us different ways to see the world. Their value may be intangible, but it is still real.

That’s why our politicians, far from closing libraries, should be opening new ones. That’s why our thinkers, instead of dismissing fairytales as fantasy, should celebrate creativity. That’s why our schools, instead of teaching literature in the way that gets the best grades, should be using it to fire pupils’ enthusiasm and imagination.

In the dark old days, the storyteller always had the best place by the campfire. Those days may be gone, but the power of story remains. It’s time we acknowledged that, and brought our authors out of the cold.

Couldn’t agree more!

As a lover of stories, both ‘recipient’ and ‘writer’ (apostrophes to recognise that a story is always a cooperative experience/event even if the author wrote the words in another continent and century to the reader) I see time and time again how stories have change our perceptions and thinking and consequently our lives. Stories have the power to shape our identity and outlook in a powerful way. As a Christian I also want to say yes, being the lover of what has sometimes been branded the greatest story ever told and a follower of the Word made flesh.

Review: Blueeyedboy

Blueeyedboy by Joanne Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As always, I loved this offering by Joanne Harris. It’s different than many of her works, more disturbing, but still maintains all her usual trademarks; a great imagination, fantastic use of all the senses in description (more relevant her than usual for reasons that will become clear if you read the book) and a playing around with the reader’s mind. The book explores two topics, the nature of our relationships especially with those closest to us, and the nature of personal and public identity and the way the virtual world can blur this. I’d say that her exploration is successful, but will restrain from saying more to avoid spoiling the plot for those who haven’t read it yet!
Whilst others haven’t enjoyed this as much as they expected, I certainly did, and am looking forward to her next offering.

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Fantastic Journeys

Church newsletter article for 16th September 2011

Last week Joanne Harris, the author of ‘Chocolat’ (later made into a film starring Johnny Depp) amongst a number of other fantastic novels shared a short story on Twitter. Twitter is a popular social networking site on the internet where people can post short updates, pieces of news or comments using only 140 characters at a time, making writing a story for it a challenging exercise. Here’s her story told in 12 tweets (posts):

Once, a man set off to see a legendary mountain. He walked for days through all kinds of weather. (tweet)
He tracked a path through forests hitherto undiscovered and encountered creatures that no-one else had ever seen. (tweet)
He saw the sun set over the mountains, and watched shooting stars over distant snowfields. (tweet)
He breathed the scent of flowers that bloom only one day in fifty years. (tweet)
He felt his way along ledges of ice and climbed rock chimneys leading to vast plains of alpine flowers. (tweet)
He drank from streams and ate the wild strawberries that grew along his path. (tweet)
He heard the sound of migrating birds, and the nighttime chirring of silver-winged cicadas. (tweet)
He crossed a desert that no living man had ever crossed and survived before… (tweet)
He crossed rivers, walking on water lilies. (tweet)
Until finally, after untold time, he came to the foot of the mountain. But alas for the man, heavy cloud had fallen onto the mountain. The peak, even the nearest slopes, were completely obscured. (tweet)
And so he went home, disappointed. And when his friends asked him to tell them about his journey, the man said: “I saw NOTHING.” (tweet)

As I came to the final tweet I felt a similar shock to that often experienced when reading Jesus’ parables, and was again reminded what a master storyteller Jesus was. This also got me thinking, although this modern parable isn’t found in the Bible, does it have anything to say to us as we travel the journey of faith?

Joanne Harris’ story can be found on her twitter page.