So this week I was reading The Future is Blue, a story collection by one of my favorite writers, Catherynne M. Valente:
Now, longtime readers may remember Catherynne M. Valente as the author of the multipart “Fairyland” series of, well, let’s call them “Young Adult” novels, if the adults in question weren’t actually adults yet, and may therefore conclude that the stories in this volume, too, are “Young Adult” in nature. Let me assure such readers that they most definitely are not.
Alice orders a glass of beer. It arrives quickly, dark and thick and workmanlike. She smacks her lips and Peter nearly calls the whole thing off then and there. He had imagined her drinking…what? Delicate things. Tea. Champagne. Rain filtered through a garret roof. She is a lady of a certain era, and ladies of that certain era do not drink porter. After the beer come oysters from some presumably dreadful, mollusc-infested swamp called Maine, which would not pair at all with her black beer. Peter found himself in an apoplexy of flummoxed culinary propriety.Catherynne M. Valente, The Future is Blue
In case you were wondering (and as quickly becomes obvious in context), the “Alice” in question here is, in fact, the Alice of “Wonderland” fame, and the “Peter” in question is the apparent namesake of Peter Pan*. But it’s still not a collection of stories for children. Oh no no no. Meanwhile, speaking of books that have “Blue” in the title and include talking animals but are not for children**, work continues on Blue Roses!
Baxter snatched the phone out of Felix’s hand and pushed the button on the side to lock the screen, making the picture of the rune go away; then the squirrel ran down his arm and barreled head-first into the phone, knocking it out of Baxter’s fingers. The device tumbled to the ground, landing face-up, and the squirrel jumped after it, scrabbling at the front glass with its little claws. Felix shooed the squirrel away and picked up the phone and mournfully inspected it, then turned it so Baxter could see its ravaged surface. The slanting morning light really brought out the scratches the squirrel had inflicted.James V. Viscosi, Blue Roses
“You see, amigo?” Felix said. “This is why I do not give you my phone.”
Now you may say to yourself, “Self, a squirrel’s claws aren’t hard enough to scratch glass.” And you’re right. (I looked it up.) But of course, this squirrel isn’t just a squirrel, just like that picture of a rune isn’t just a picture of a magic rune. Well, I mean, yes, it’s a picture of a rune. But a picture of a rune is a rune itself, isn’t it?
* I knew there was a real Alice, but not that there was a real Peter Pan, or that he ended up killing himself. Dark!
** How’s that for a segue?