Saturday, March 11, 2023

The Child that Books Built by Francis Spufford


In this book Francis Spufford reflects on his journey through childhood, a journey that is coloured by the books he reads.  The title suggests that those books shape the adult he has become.

Spufford begins by reassuring us he is still a great reader of fiction. Much of his discussion of how books built him is useful to us in that it recaps on what is available. Towards the end of the text he offers a reasoned explanation of how books for adults differ from those for children. He also attempts to analyse what he is looking for in fiction – and what he has found lacking in some fiction written for adults. He explains how the classics lead use gently from literature for children into literature for adults.  Science Fiction is his saviour.  It seems to do for the adults what children’s fiction does for the child.

Spafford’s sister was very ill and despite a reprieve in the form of a kidney transplant died at the age of 22. Books may have offered a form of escape. Or this may not be relevant at all.  Yet he tells us much about his sister’s illness in the book.

The book is written in a very elegant and engaging prose.  The paperback is 224 pages. There are some long paragraphs in the text – some going over one or even two pages.       

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