22 May 2010

+JMJ+

Locus Focus: Take Two!




First of all, thank you to everyone who wrote a post about a great setting and linked it up last week! I loved reading about your favourite places--and though I was kind of miffed that two settings I had hoped to write about myself will have to be postponed for a while because they've already been covered, that's half the fun of it, right?

Secondly, I saved all your links in the main part of last week's post, so that they aren't lost when they "disappear" (That's a long story, but if you ask, I'll tell you!), and the post itself is already archived in the Locus Focus page.

Now let's get down to business, shall we?


Tadfield
Good Omens
by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

"There's something odd about this area," said Aziraphale. "Can't you feel it?"

"What?"

"Slow down a moment."

The Bentley slowed again.

"Odd," muttered the angel, "I keep getting these flashes of, of . . ."

He raised his hands to his temples.

"What? What?" said Crowley.

Aziraphale stared at him.

"Love," he said. "Someone really loves this place."

A little later, Aziraphale explains to Crowley that the feeling Tadfield gives off is the opposite of the spooky feeling one gets when passing a haunted area. It is "a cherished feel." Indeed, it's not the setting one would imagine for the Apocalypse itself.

A bit of background, without spoilers: although Aziraphale is an angel and Crowley is a demon, they would rather work against the Apocalypse than for it. That is, through their prolonged association with and unusual affinity for humans and all things earthly, Aziraphale has become less angelic and Crowley has become less demonic, and now they are trying their hardest to prevent the destruction of the world they have come to feel at home in. And in the process, they totally misplace the baby who is the Antichrist.

The unwitting child grows up like a normal boy in a place in the English countryside called Tadfield. And no, he doesn't turn out like Damien from The Omen. In fact, his attachment to the familiar places in his confined world, with its hedges for crawling through, woods for wandering in, dirt roads for biking in, and chalk cliffs for . . . well, for whatever chalk cliffs are for, and everything else an active boy could desire, turns out to be the unexpected trump card in one of the craziest, most tangled up plots ever written.

Gaiman and Pratchett dedicated this novel to the memory of G.K. Chesterton, one of my favourite writers, and it's easy to see some wonderfully Chestertonian themes gleaming brightly between the lines. One of these is Chesterton's belief that the among the greatest of values is one's love for one's own hearth, which naturally grew into a poetic envisioning of Heaven as home. (He once described his wife as his "wandering home"--a touching romantic tribute and his own special way of saying that he would follow her to the ends of the earth.)

Although the theology in this novel is something St. Augustine of Hippo would have a field day with, I think the self-consciously orthodox Christian Chesterton would agree with their implied moral that hell is a world in which you can never go home again.

Now it's your turn!
Leave the link to your Locus Focus post in the linky
and take some time to check out and comment on those of others.
I can't wait to read what everyone has to say! =D



EDIT: Here is a quick roundup of the links to this week's participants and their settings of choice . . .

Null Epistolary, Beacon House (Manalive by G.K. Chesterton)

Breaking the Curve, Virgin River (Virgin River by Robin Carr)

Bippity Boppity Book, Tara (Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell)

Spike Is Best, Buxton Common (The Club of Queer Trades by G.K. Chesterton)

Pearls Cast before a McPig, 100 Acre Wood (Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne)

Image Source: Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

12 comments:

Belfry Bat said...

What a strange story that sounds! This Crowley, he isn't named for "Aleister Crowley" is he? (That's a pseudonym btw, chosen for being dactylo-troche)

What's an angel supposed to be doing about this baby anti-xpctc anyway? Or ... is that spoilers?

I will say I love the idea of a place that feels loved!

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

I don't get as many literary allusions as I should, but as far as I can tell, it's a pun. Crowley was also the demon assigned to tempt Adam and Eve in the Garden, and because he took the form of a snake, he was saddled with the nickname "Crawly."

In the same situation, I suppose a decent angel would be waiting for God's order to start the final war between Heaven and Hell, knowing that it doesn't matter how the Antichrist is brought up. But this angel has terrible theology--and I don't mean the bit about wanting to prevent Armageddon, but the bit about Heaven and Hell not really having to be at war. (Did that answer your question?)

Belfry Bat said...

Well... hmm... this tale sounds stranger and stranger as we go on. But then, it is Gaiman and Pratchett... I've not read much of either, but from both of them it's all been weird!

Cozy Book Nook (Lesa) said...

I think I've mentioned before how much I liked this book. Been years since I read it but I remember lots a chuckles and now I'm wanting to reread it.

iolanthe95 said...

This book sounds fun--and as for the place, **sigh** sign me up!

Jen G. said...

I did love this book, but it's been ages since I read it. I had forgotten about Tadfield feeling like love. What a nice place to visit! I love the concept of Chesterton's wife as his wandering home. Thanks for sharing!

I'm out of town this week and didn't have time to write a post. Sorry. :-(

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Lesa: It either just turned ten years old last year, or will this year, so it's a great time for a retrospective if you do decide to reread it. Yes, it's very funny, isn't it? =D

Iolanthe: It's certainly a fun read. Gaiman and Pratchett had the time of their lives writing it together, and that really shows!

Jen: Hey, no problem! I myself do Character Connection only every other week, and it's one of my favourites. =) I'll definitely do a Chesterton character soon, because his birthday is coming up.

Paul Stilwell said...

Oh, I can definitely see Chesterton behind this book - the outrageous premise.

Funny, how that line,

"Love," he said. "Someone really loves this place."

makes the impression of the place, though the opposite of spooky, more startling, frightening even, than a place of evil haunting might.

Tadfield sounds like a very interesting place, and the story (being tangled as you say) sounds even more interesting.

ninjapeps said...

as soon as I figure out what to write about, I'm joining in on this.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Paul: Thanks for linking up this week, too! You just might be the only one to do Locus Focus two weeks in a row. =)

What you just wrote about the force of love making a place more startling reminded of my first impressions of Corregidor. There was something about that island . . . I almost wish I had Aziraphale with me to tell me what it was I felt. It certainly seemed haunted, as I'm sure many places which have felt the hardest blows of war must feel, but not by angry, desolate, dark ghosts.

Peppy: When you do, I shall love you even more for it! <3

Sullivan McPig said...

Great pick! I love Good Omens and I just wish Gaiman and Pratchett had written more books together.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Sully, I confess that Good Omens is the only book I've read by either Gaiman or Pratchett! =P But I will totally take your word that it has its own special sort of magic that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. =)