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Month in review

Reviews
Bo at Iditarod Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill
A Buss from Lafayette by Dorothea Jensen
The Cathedral of Fear by Irene Adler
Cave of Bones by Anne Hillerman
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel
A Fatal Chapter by Lorna Barrett
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Giant Days, Volume 7 by John Allison The Good Little Book by Kyo Maclear
Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen
How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringiyimana and Abigail Pesta
The Left-Handed Fate by Kate Milford
Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly
Murder Most Frothy by Cleo Coyle
My Life in Dioramas by Tara Altebrando
Noragami Volume 05 by Adachitoka
Paper Girls, Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan
Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Puerto Rico Strong edited by Hazel Newlevant
Sovereign by April Daniels
Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente
Spy on History: Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring by Enigma Alberti
Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartmen
This Fallen Prey by Kelley Armstrong
Title Wave by Lorna Barrett
Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles
When the Silliest Cat Was Small by Gilles Bachelet
Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth by Jeff Anderson

Miscellaneous
Children's fantasy that isn't British
March 2018 Sources
March 2018 Summary
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (April 02) It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (April 09) It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (April 16) It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (April 23) It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (April 30)

Road Essays
Mapping Labyrinth (1986)
The Monster in the middle

Previous month

Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish


The monster in the middle: 04/20/18

The monster in the middle

Dan in The Way to Bea insists he prefers labyrinths (meaning the spiral mediation paths) to mazes (rectilinear paths with blind alleys) because they "don't have a monster in the middle." In revisiting my notes and saved quotes from Kat Yeh's middle grade novel, I've been thinking a lot about the monster in the middle.

For The Way to Bea there is no literal monster in the middle but there is a metaphorical one, namely the social anxiety both Dan and Bea feel. They are their own monsters. Without routine and a clearly marked path, their fears and sense of disorientation is their worst enemy.

Since then, I've been rethinking my crossing the cornfield and labyrinth road narratives now in terms of who or what the monster in the middle is. I've come to realize the monster can be literal (M, for instance, who is literally the Minotaur) or metaphorical (such as Dan and Bea's monsters). It can be a protagonist or an antagonist. Not all monsters are the bad guys.

I've plotted some of the crossing the cornfield / labyrinth road narratives now against two axes: one that goes from literal to metaphorical and the other that goes from antagonist to protagonist. The intercept of the two at zero would be the big gray area where it's hard to tell who the monster is. The closest one to that intersection is the main character from All Our Wrong Todays.

alignment of the monster in the middle

Having multiple ways of looking at road narratives that at first glance appear incredibly different helps to map their shared landscape. This alignment graph accounts for the "reluctant scarecrow" and the minotaur, the warden, the orphan, and any other sorts of characters one might find in a road narrative.

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