Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bear Necessities

by Allison Pang

Or so to speak. I had to think long on this one, because there really were so many books I read growing up.

But two I remember very fondly are going to be Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Books and C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia.

From a religious standpoint, I'm not sure Narnia makes sense for me. I'm not particularly religious at all, but somehow even knowing they're basically Christian allegory never stopped my enthusiasm for the stories themselves. I don't know how many times I've read them, but it's a lot. The idea of four children escaping the mundane world and entering a realm of fantasy was exactly the sort of thing that appealed to me most. Talking animals? Check. Magical creatures? Check. Adventure? Check.

(And the fact that my grandmother had a giant wardrobe full of fur coats in her attic didn't hurt things much, either. My dad would take me up there once in a while and we'd pretend we were going into Narnia.)

Influences for my writing? Yeah - I suspect Mr Tumnus might have a wee bit to do with why Brystion looks the way he does. Just a bit, mind. Mr. Tumnus was all about scarves and tea. Not sex and bacon. (However, James McAvoy up there? Hells yes, my friends. HELLS YES.)

Though, there's a bit of a similarity here, perhaps? -->

But still, I actually drop a few Narnia lines in A Brush of Darkness, though some are more obvious than others.


I suspect my fondness for the name Lucy came from this series as well (and hence my daughter's namesake.)

And then we've got the Jungle Book. I didn't actually own this one, but every summer we'd go to the beach and I'd check it out of the children's section and I'd hoard it for about a month or so. It was an oversized book with a ton of illustrations. I couldn't find any of the ones I remember online, which is a shame, because it was brightly colored with a primitive feel to it.

A lot of my love for Mowgli probably goes back to that lonely, picked-on nerd girl that I was - there was something rather comforting about a kid who lived on his own in the jungle...and yet that whole "We be of one blood, ye and I," concept was cool too, because it showed me you could find friends and family anywhere - even if those friends were wolves or a bear or a panther.

On the other hand, Mowgli also did what he wanted and didn't really take shit from anyone either. I mean, he kills Shere Khan and dances on his skin for the next 10 years or so, so...yeah. There's a certain savage "and not a single fuck was given that day" mentality that I also liked, also for obvious reasons.

But even the other Jungle stories were pretty fascinating, particularly some of the poetry. A Ripple Song is the one that stuck with me the most (which is basically about a girl who goes into the river and is eaten by a crocodile, but there was always something deliciously sinister about it, simply because it didn't really come out and say it.

Foolish heart and faithful hand,
 Little feet that touched no land.
Far away the ripple sped,
 Ripple--ripple--running red!

At any rate, I leave you with this, which *is* from the Disney cartoon, but that's okay. George Sanders has the perfect voice for Shere Khan, and that upper crust accent sorta steals the show.  (That and the fact that Winnie-the-Pooh is singing about eating someone. Really. Close your eyes and it's rather surreal.)


  1. I always loved Shere Kahn. And I still have my copy of The Jungle Book, if you ever want to borrow it. ;-)

  2. "...Winnie-the-Pooh is singing about eating someone."

    Which, ya know, would be more accurate for a bear. But then, Baloo doesn't eat Mowgli either. ~scratches head~

    Bears -- being emasculated one children's story at a time.