Today I'll begin looking at some of the books and movies this book has been chewing, swallowing, and digesting as it spreads its way along my Plot Planner. This is a tool from Martha Alderson's wonderful book THE PLOT WHISPERER. I guess I talk and write too much about Alderson's work, but I really can't thank her enough for sharing the tool that actually pointed this long-suffering book of mine in the right direction. Here is my Plot Planner in its current state, thumbtacked to the wall abutting my messy desk:
Anyway. Having acknowledged Alderson, I'll move on to acknowledging Lewis Carroll's ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, by which I really mean three volumes: that book, its sequel, and the astonishing THE ANNOTATED ALICE, a massive text-and-commentary affair assembled by Martin Gardner that stopped me in my tracks the first time I encountered it in the early Seventies. I must have been about twelve when it began seducing me.
By that point I had already read both ALICE books out loud to my brother Joreth and sister Cassandra during a cross-country drive from Oregon (where we had just marked my Aunt Tina's passing) to Tennessee (where we believed, wrongly, that there was a commune waiting to welcome us with open arms). My point here is a) that the Carroll books -- obviously -- worked for us as children's literature, and b) that I thought I knew the books pretty well. Yet when I encountered the Gardner book a couple of years later -- an oversized affair that eruditely explained all of Carroll's math references, theological jokes, and so on -- something new opened up. All kinds of lights switched "ON" inside my brain, illuminating adult intent, adult observation, and the process of one voice commenting on, even building a book around, another voice. Who knew such a book was possible? What in the world had Carroll really been up to? What was GARDNER really up to? THE ANNOTATED ALICE was a major early obsession for me.
It also planted a seed about footnotes, which figure prominently in JIHAD COMIX. This was not the first such seed, though. I'll tell you about that first seed tomorrow, InshaAllah.