Saturday, December 20, 2008

Eine Tintenwelt

The central theme in Tintenblut, a book I'm currently listening to on CD, is the yearning to travel to a magical parallel world, despite the difficulties and dangers present there. It's a paradox I can relate to as I experience the winter solstice here in Essen. When I meet people here in Germany, they always ask me where I'm from and what brought me here. They're often surprised to find out that I'm an American who has chosen to live here in the Ruhrgebiet for a year. In fact, they all ask me the same question: "Why?"

It's a question I've been asking myself a lot lately. I left my Wohnung on my way to the studio yesterday at 7:30 am. and faced a cold, wet, dark, foggy world. I leave almost everyday in darkness and come home in darkness. Back in Utah, where I live when I'm not on sabbatical, the sun shines almost every day. There comes a time when you have to ask yourself, "What in fact am I doing here?"

One of the things I've been doing this past week is reading the second in a series of three books by Cornelia Funke that I mentioned above. These books are intended for children or young adults, but I'm an old adult and I'm still finding Tintenblut very compelling. I read the first in the series, Tintenherz, a few years ago and it was slow going. I tend to read at night and that means I fall asleep a lot while I'm reading. The book moves pretty slowly when you're only managing about three pages a night and I never reached critical mass with it.

Now I'm "reading" the second book on CD while I paint and it makes a big difference. I'm enjoying the novel, which, like the other two books in the trilogy is based on a simple, compelling and inventive premise: that a skilled reader can cross the border from our world to the world of the story that he or she reads aloud. I wanted to see if her books are known in the English speaking world and with a little research (meaning that I stumbled around on-line searching Wikipedia and Google) I discovered that not only are the books known, but that Frau Funke was chosen by Time magazine in 2005 as one if the year's 100 most influential people. The only other German named was Cardinal Ratzinger (or Papa Ratzi, as he is known in some circles here in Deutschland,) who was later named as Pope. Not bad company for a children's book author.

I'm curious to know how many readers the Tintenwelt books have found in the English speaking world (where they are know as Inkheart, Inkspell and Inkdeath) and I've decided to use the blog poll feature that Blogger so kindly provides. I know it's sort of gimmicky, but I'm told blog content consumers like their experience to be interactive. We'll see. Check the side bar for the poll and I'll continue with Tintenblut. It's the perfect book for another dark, cold, wet day in the studio. Cornelia Funke is busy working on the screen plays for a series of films based on the books and she'll be experiencing the solstice in sunny southern California. With the success of her novels she presumably has the resources to live wherever she wants. When she meets fellow expatriates strolling the pier in Santa Monica, I doubt if anyone has to ask, "Why?"

1 comment:

Charlie H said...

Hanna has read Inkheart, and I think she stalled partway through Inkspell. She still intends to finish it, but other books came along and distracted her. (Now she tells me she lost it.)

I have been reading the "Golden Compass" trilogy by Philip Pullman, also aimed at young adults, and it also deals with travel among parallel worlds. Really fascinating ideas: there is this stuff some people call "dust," others "dark matter," and others "original sin."