Teaser Tuesday: “The Boy Who Lost Fairyland”

So this week I was reading The Boy Who Lost Fairyland, the next-to-last entry in Catherynne M. Valente’s “Fairyland” series (not counting a couple of interstitial short stories):

🎵 … and when the wombat comes, he will find me gone … 🎶

Unlike all the previous books in the “Fairyland” series, which have followed the adventures of a girl named September who makes unusually-frequent excursions to the titular realm, this one follows the adventures of a young troll named Hawthorn who gets abducted from Fairyland by the scurrilous Red Wind and deposited in Chicago as a changeling, where, among other things, he has to forget how to speak Troll and learn how to speak English: Never an easy undertaking.

But Hawthorn was not a troll anymore. At least, his ears and his mouth were not troll-ears or a troll-mouth. He tried all the tricks a troll has to get his tongue back. He sidled up to English, and petted it, and called it a good language, and a pretty language, and wouldn’t it like to come and play with him? But English was not Troll. English loves to stay out all night dancing with other languages, all decked out in sparkling prepositions and irregular verbs. It is unruly and will not obey—just when you think you have it in hand, it lets down its hair along with a hundred nonsensical exceptions.

Catherynne M. Valente, The Boy Who Lost Fairyland

And now that’s the best description I’ve seen of English since James Nicoll said, on Usenet of all places, “The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle their pockets for new vocabulary.”

Now of course, as per usual with Teaser Tuesdays, I checked in with the Gods of Randomness to choose a page from one of my own books to include as a teaser, and this week, they selected Television Man:

“You brought her up here and handed her off to be tested.”

“Yes.”

“But you don’t do the testing yourself.”

The look he gave her told her that she didn’t seem to be very bright.  “Obviously not.  Dr. Collins does it.”

“Why not you?  You seem to know all about it.”

“Oh, I do.  But Dr. Collins says that my abilities would make the results suspect.”

“Your abilities?”

“Yes.”  He cocked his head at her and smiled a little, not nicely.  “You must have noticed that I have some.”

James V. Viscosi, Television Man

The “testing” in question is the famous card test, where the experimenter holds up a bunch of cards and the experimentee tries to guess what’s on them. Sadly, not everyone is as concerned about suspect results as Dr. Collins …

2 thoughts on “Teaser Tuesday: “The Boy Who Lost Fairyland”

  1. “English loves to stay out all night dancing with other languages”. Oh English, you’re such a happy-go-lucky thing, flirting with life and daring to defy expectation.

    Sounds like a very unusual yet intriguing read.

    I’ve got to say, I really like the Television Man’s cover. I’d love to be capable of guessing unseen cards, but that would only happen with a mirror behind them so I can glimpse the reflection.

    Liked by 1 person

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