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My Speed-Reading Fairy

I picked up Justine Larbalestier's How To Ditch Your Fairy last night, because I'd been tormented all day yesterday by mentions via Boing Boing, Scalzi, Cherie Priest, and Justine's own blog. It's the story about a girl who lives in a world where most people have a personal fairy that does one thing for them and enhances their life. (Or un-enhances, as the case may be.) Our heroine, Charlie, has a parking fairy, which is a fairy I would have killed baby seals to get when I lived in San Francisco. A parking fairy could easily save you a thousand a year in parking tickets and whatnot. As such I fully sympathise with the character that attempts to temporarily kidnaps Charlie in order to utilize the parking fairy. Because even before I'd read the book, when we were browsing in Barnes and Noble last night, I said to John that I would pretty much mug somebody for a parking fairy. I guess that makes me a bad person.

Charlie hates her parking fairy. Partly because she's too young to drive, and because she's been hijacked by well-meaning friends and relatives her whole life for the use of said fairy. She wants a good fairy, like an Always Look Good In My Clothes fairy. Or a Good Hair Fairy. She especially has envy for her nemesis's Every Boy Wants Me fairy. And around such desires does the plot turn. Charlie's willing to do anything to dispatch her parking fairy, including starving it out by walking everywhere, while trying to dodge the attentions of the school bully who (like me) is willing to mug her in order to use the parking fairy.

I have a speed-reading fairy, so I crashed through this book between picking John up after work and bedtime. It helps that the story zips along and is immensely readable. I also kept reading to see if my suspicions were correct. (They were, but the personalities help keep the story from devolving into predictability.) And the schools concept was a nifty bit of world-building. Actually, it occurs to me that in countries like Germany, they have different track schools depending on what your strengths are, so maybe it's being a North American and being used to what this book calls mixed schools that makes me think the schools are world-building. But I think it counts. It was just alien enough while still retaining a hint of familiarity that I kept trying to figure out what was up with her school, and why did she have so much PE.

I have to say at first I found the slang a leetle distracting, but got used to it pretty quickly. And--slight spoiler warning here--because I've read Scott Westerfeld's Uglies/Pretties/Specials/Extras, which also has slightly alien city cultures with rep economies and crazy slang, I kept waiting for the hidden underbelly of the fairy world to reveal itself. My brain kept mashing up the Uglies world with the Fairy world.

Anyways, enjoyed the book. It would have been absolute crack for 12 year old Lis, and 30-something Lis liked it too.

....

Other fairies I have, besides the speed-reading fairy:

+ The orientierungen fairy, better known as the spatial orientation and not-getting-lost fairy. This fairy is why John called me after work the other day to say, "I'm on Pike Street, and I can't figure out how to get back to Capitol Hill. Do I walk towards the Nordstroms?"

+ I used to have the Grammar Nazi and Spelling fairy, but then I starved it by reading the internet too much. Or maybe it was the opposite of starving? Maybe I overworked it 'til it exploded.

+ The Random Facts and Short Term memory fairy. This fairy is somewhat erratic. Why it decided I need to know about the lives of Milli Vanilli and Paris Hilton is beyond me. This is also one reason why I don't watch television. Because the last time I had TV, in my early 20s, I watched waaaaay too many episodes of Behind the Music, and the Random Facts fairy went insane. There are still tidbits about Janis Joplin and Grace Slick and Lindsey Buckingham lurking in the back of my head. Wikipedia is an absolute danger, and is why I have to have no internet connection while I write.

Fairies I Would Like:

+ A parking fairy, obviously.
+ A never out of your favourite food at restaurants fairy.
+ A short term loan of a miraculous unpacking fairy, wherein everything I unpack automatically has a space waiting for it.

Comments

ckd
Sep. 17th, 2008 04:58 pm (UTC)
People with spatial orientation skills, how they develop/work, how they can fail, and so on.
Written for the nonscientist, Inner Navigation explains the astonishing array of physical and psychological cues the brain uses to situate us in space and build its "cognitive maps" -- the subconscious maps it employs to organize landmarks. Humans, Jonsson explains, also possess an intuitive direction frame -- an internal compass -- that keeps these maps oriented (when it functions properly) and a dead-reckoning system that constantly updates our location on the map as we move through the world. Even the most cynical city-dweller will be amazed to learn how much of this innate sense we use every day as we travel across town or around the world.
As for mapping Seattle, be wary of the "water on the wrong side" cue.

True story: I once went the wrong way on Storrow (not against traffic, just in the wrong direction) because my dad was in the car. My internal processing went "ok, we want to go toward the water, and water is west because Dad's here and so we must be in Washington state"...oops.

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