Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Weird Fiction and Unheimlich Bedtime Stories

Just resumed made-up bedtime stories with my five year old daughter after a considerable hiatus. We migrated to book stories (a) because dad was feeling increasingly exhausted and unimaginative at the end of the working day and (b) because said daughter was hijacking the stories with ever greater regularity. To be fair her embellishments were sometimes fun and very creative, and I was often more than happy to work them in to the stories, but they were becoming the norm and added to the storytelling being a high energy investement. Anyway, we returned to them this evening with a visit to her favourite characters and their newest adventure - and boy did she add some scary elements to the mix. Basically we had the set up of the main protagonists, two princesses (mother and daughter), and their magical but morbidly obese cat, being roped in by the King of the Faeries to rid Faery Town of some horrible monster created by goblin magicians; moreover, said monster was hiding in the sewers and had been abducting faeries from the town for several weeks.

What did my dear daughter add to the mix? Here are some unprompted elements:

On what the monster might be like: "The monster is made of all the goblins ideas ... and even nastier ideas than they can think of, all the nasty ideas in the world and nastier than the whole universe."

I was scared. Personally, I wouldn't like to see my daughter's Monster-X (see Prince of Networks for that particular reference).

On the age of Faery Town: "Older than God." Brilliant.

On what might be happening: "The goblins are getting all the faeries magic. They are getting better and stronger every day." A classic of fantasy literature.

I fully accept that parents can be easily impressed by their children's accomplishments, but the imagination of the young can be a powerful thing. We may praise the unheimlich of Lovecraft, the weird fiction of Mieville and others, the small town horror of King, but just tap in to the creativity and imaginations of some children, absolutely amazing material.

P.S. It can be mundane and very practical too. She was quite clear that the goblins would have special clothes to keep them dry and clean in the faery sewers.

No comments: