“The green orchid fell from his hand and splashed a moment later.”
-Emma Trevayne, Spindrift and the Orchid
I really liked Spindrift. It was fun, fast, sweet, and filled with lots of snacking. It was also the first novel I read at my niece’s recommendation, which is delightful, and I’m looking forward to many more. And as I read (spoiler alert) I started thinking about how Spindrift follows a common path. There’s a powerful object that corrupts people. It has to be destroyed. Our main character is almost corrupted, but then decides to let this object go. Have you seen that story somewhere?
Lately I’ve been thinking about the ‘scale’ or ‘focus’ of our answers. For me, Spindrift and stories like it (I can’t help naming Lord of the Rings) are dealing with materialism and capitalism and physical greed. There is something dangerous (the story says) in how we want to claim things, control things, own things that give us power. At the same time, the stories I’m thinking of understand and resolve this danger in a fairly specific way. They end with the magic-thing being thrown away. I start imagining how else such stories might look for a resolution. For example, what if the people in them moved past greed, past this mad need for the thing, and the resolution wasn’t somehow ‘removing temptation’ (by getting rid of the object) but a changing worldview (in which the object was not imbued as a kind of magical source of meaning)? It would be a different story. It would take up our capitalist materialism, and suggest a different response. Maybe now that I’m writing this I’ll see this other story everywhere, but the destroy-it story, the its-too-dangerous-to-go-on-existing story, seems more common in the American spaces I move through.
As we ask these questions, what other ‘scales’ or ‘focuses’ could we take up?