Because I Am A Geek…
I don’t know where my original version of this book ended up. I’ve moved a few times since I first read it myself, the summer after grade six. I was maybe 10 or 11 and I had to take it out of the library that time. By the time I could get my own copy, this was the cover I found, which is an early 1980’s version found in the bargain bin at the Coles book store. I’ve gone through a few versions of it since then, and read it a fair few times. I’m a fan of the movies, and I don’t mind the deviations taken form the book. Some things don’t translate to screen, and some things sell better to the modern viewing audience than what was published in 1937. Creativity and story telling are malleable things.
What I do remember from the very first time I ever encountered this story, is what was read to the class by my grade six teacher, Mr. Blackwell. I can still hear his voice, and I can still remember the cadence of that opening salvo:
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
I delved into that hobbit hole–and the world it came from–both feet first, no hesitation, no looking back. Mr. Blackwell, if he’s even still alive, will never understand what lay beyond that little round door for me when he opened it up that day. I could not tell you if anyone else in the class was affected the same way I was, and frankly, to me, it doesn’t really matter. Mr. Blackwell not only opened up the world of elves and dragons and magic and, yes, hobbits, to me, but the world of books.
Look. Not every single one of the books in this picture are fantasy novels. There may be one or two that are not. And the point is, before this, I wasn’t a huge reader. I came from a family of readers, but it wasn’t my greatest pastime. None of the worlds of Anne of Green Gables or the Hardy Boys or Thornton W. Burgess were as compelling to me as worlds with dragons, elves, dwarves, magic, and mayhem.
Do I blame Mr. Blackwell? Oh hell yes. And he’s named in the Acknowledgements of my latest book, due out in December, as my reason for going down this road. I think it’s a burden of blame he would gladly bear, to know he was responsible for my love of books, fantasy, and especially, my absolute determination to Create a Better Dragon. (More on that in later posts!)
Also, this is my current iteration of The Hobbit. I think this cover is from around the early 1970’s, so almost before my time. But not quite!