Friday is our new settlement date on the house. We even have a time scheduled, so it seems that all this long waiting is about to end. And then the Era of Destruction will begin. I have to say I’m pretty excited about it; the Architect has promised to teach me carpentry. I have carved before, and used the radial arm saw, the band and scroll saws and the drill press, so I’m not totally unfamiliar with tools-of-power. But, learning the finer points of the craft will be an exciting challenge.

I think the part of the renovation process I’m most excited about is the attic. We’re planning to open the stairways to the second and attic levels and have the stairs float away from the wall, which will become built-in shelves spanning all three levels, floor to attic ceiling. The attic will eventually become our loft bedroom, which is what I’m really excited about. Ever since I was eight and first read A Little Princess I’ve wanted to live in an attic. Or, rather, I’ve wanted to live in what Sara’s attic became after Ram Dass got through with it.

Attics are precious spaces these days. Most modern houses now have either that pull down ladder-of-death, or the pop-up ceiling tile, both of which invariably lead to a three-foot crawl space populated by ceiling joists, insulation and A.C. units–a location even Sara would find difficult imagining into a comfortable room. The remaining older garrets where one can stand up without risking head trauma or falling through the floor have been largely ignored due to “creepiness,” and trips into them are saved only for when Christmas decorations must be retrieved or returned. All of this is too bad, because many times it is this very room that has the best exposure to the bright morning sun, the least worn hardwood floors, the most interesting ceiling lines, and–especially in our house’s case–the second largest amount of square-footage. But, maybe it’s just me. I was, after all, the little girl who walked around clutching a worn green novel while wearing her grandfather’s old threadbare bathrobe, pretending to be Sara in her castoff’s clothes.

Speaking of carrying around a book like a favorite stuffed toy, I have a new fascination. It’s called The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden. This novel is the first in a series by Catherynne M. Valente, who is fairly young, and wholly brilliant. It’s the story of an orphaned, outcast little girl with eyes ringed like kohl. The dark smudges are actually stories printed on her eyelids. When a boy prince finds her hiding in the palace gardens, a tentative friendship forms and she begins telling her stories to him. What Catherynne has done is woven a gorgeous labyrinth of fantastical tales–stories within stories within stories. The genius required for plotting aside, every sentence is beautiful, her use of metaphor and imagery so skilled that I can’t help see everything she says with almost painful clarity.

If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m in complete awe. It’s been a while since I carried a book around the house with me, but I’m doing it now. I take it from room to room, hoping to snatch a few sentences here and there. I sit it nearby on my desk, keeping it close….for what purpose I don’t really know. Maybe I’m hoping some of Ms. Valente’s talent will rub off on me. It’s difficult, as a writer, to see work like that and know I’ll never be as good. But, as a reader, well, I’m happily walking around like I did when I was little Sara Crewe. Except this time, there’s no need for dressing up–I’ve already got the raccoon-eye going on. If only my eyeliner would tell me a story…

If you haven’t picked up this book, do it. Really. I’m never this enthusiastic with my praise.

About Avery

I am a roller derbying, dark fantasy author. This blog chronicles my adventures in life, writing and skating. View all posts by Avery

14 responses to “

  • Avery DeBow

    RRN — With a cheering squad like you, how can I fail?Steve — You have no idea how right you are. I think I’ll have to post some photos of the destruction, soon. I’ll come play for a while, though.

  • Steve Malley

    Heya, Landed Gentry. Put down the hammer and come do the ten-year meme. 😀

  • RRN

    “It’s difficult, as a writer, to see work like that and know I’ll never be as good.”Fuck. Sit in the Attic and listen to the band “Kill Your Idols” and let some shit rip. ha.I bet your eyeliner has about ten thousand stories to tell.The world needs more of you.

  • Avery DeBow

    Sidney — I love the Exorcist. I bet that mother really wished they’d actually HAD rats in the attic by the end of that movie.Christina — I’m with you on the basement thing. They’re damp and unpleasant. Not many houses around here have them, seeing we’re at sea-level.Steve — I am both of those things, finally! Whee!! So many eyesores, so little time…

  • Steve Malley

    So by now I imagine you’re a new homeowner. Landed gentry…Landed gentry. With a BIG hammer!Congratulations. 🙂

  • Christina

    Congratulations! The changes sound wonderful. I’m not much of an attic or basement person, but the thought of having another room sounds great.

  • Sidney

    I’ve got the ladder of death style, but there’s room for some storage at least. I keep books there. A lot of people were creeped out by hidden stairways after “The Exorcist.”

  • Avery DeBow

    Thanks to all for the well-wishes on the house. There may be delays on the closing tomorrow… Grrr. But, some day, maybe, when the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars… Oh, wait. That’s the other mythical, wishful thinking event.Charles — I’m smitten, honestly. I haven’t loved a book like this in a long, long time.Spy — I would never have left my room as a child if I were you. Steve — I’m just excited to smash things, really. And lack of attic space is completely forgiven with assets such as those.Barbara — Thanks for stopping by. You’re a more devoted writer than I am. I do try to keep form in mind when I read, but, this time, I’m having a hard time concentrating on anything but the stories.Sqt — I’m chomping at the bit to get the sequel, and I’m not even done with the first.Lana — Thanks on both accounts. Pray for my fingers to remain intact.

  • Lana Gramlich

    Congratulations on the new closing date & best of luck with the renovations!

  • SQT

    I actually have that book, and the sequel. I haven’t read them both yet, but what I have read is brilliant. We have one of those houses with the pop up tile to the attic. Sadly, there’s only room for insulation.

  • Barbara Martin

    Make that a fourth person to seek out that book. A writer can always learn by reading what has come before them.When I read a book that really interests me, I read it first for the entertainment value and then I re-read it to see how the structure and plot was set up to see why the author used that particular form.

  • Steve Malley

    THe renovations sound awesome. We have no attics here at Secret Headquarters, only the parapet on the North Tower and a lightning-blasted ruin in the east wing. Oh, and some good storage-space over the portcullis. When we’re not, you know, boiling cauldrons of oil.I’ll look for that book!!

  • spyscribbler

    I’ll have to check that out! Congrats on the house! My piano teacher had the most beautiful redone attic in the world. It was amazing. Beautiful. Gorgeous. And so much light and space! Gosh. It was modern, but that’s cool. Incidentally, my bedroom was the attic, growing up. It was awesome.

  • Charles Gramlich

    Wow, what a recommendation for a book. I’ll have a look for this one. The idea sounds wonderful. Sounds like a bit of Clive Barker influence from his books like Weaveworld. Good luck with all the housing projects.

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