What seems abnormal may be normal to you. Seeing dead people may not be the most pleasant talent, but if that’s what you are born with, then it’s normal, and you have to live with it through Kubla-Ross’s famous five stages of dying. That happens to Jamie in his narrative of the coming-of-age proclamation of his identity in this story.
Dead people are like quiet people lurking in the background of Jamie’s life. They appear to him as the last moments of their earthly lives, talking and joking to Jamie, who can see and hear them, albeit rather unreluctantly, because he’s not much pleased with his uncanny ability. But then it’s the discerning talent -says the Bible – that helps him know who he is, like an epiphany of a family secret locked in his uncle’s lost memories, thanks to nature’s force of dementia. However, this story is not so much a psychological thriller as a supernatural drama that is so characteristic of Stephen King’s novels, with a level of uncanniness combined with realism that makes his stories all the more real and relatable. The settings, the dialogues, and the jobs the characters have are not far-fetched, fanciful, or bourgeoisie, all of which attest to King’s engagingly realistic storytelling skills.
Later is a three-fold story of horror without goriness, mystery without glamour, and bildungsroman without teenage angst. King has a unique knack for incorporating popular entertainment with serious literature that attracts readers of all generations and classes. He is a literary descendant of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, and Edgar Allen Poe, who defined American literature in the constellation of the World’s Literature for the joy of the beholders from generation to generation. All in all, this book will be one of the stars in the constellation.
We are such starstuff made of fire, spirit, and dew that we are instantly drawn to stars that sparkle and shine. And what do we call the beautiful star (and young, of course) that sings, dances, and acts even? If we call it a singer, it is also an idol. Akari calls it Masaki, puts him in the constellation of super idols and worships him like an Apollo to whom she gives meaning to her life as if he were her lighthouse on the dark ocean. He is her God, the Idol, and the Guiding Light of her lonely life. Then what?
Masaki is a member of a boy band called Mama Maza, which feeds on the cult devotion reminiscent of Dionysus accompanying the Maenads sans frenzied ritual of animal-human ripping of fleshes. Akari is something of the high priestess of the cult, running fan blogs filled with tributes to the exalted, glorified awesomeness of her Idol. Her life is centered on, evolved around the solar system of Masaki, and everything she is about, all the things she does about, is because of him. So imagine what is it like when her God becomes mortal full of human frailty, fallen from the constellation of the stars? An emotional vacuum is soon filled in her heart, leaving her lost in the direction of life, wandering about, wondering about the sense of purpose in life ahead. Her sense of void in life with the declination of Masaki from stardom illustrates the existential dilemma that struggles to find a new objective in her life in which the meaning of life depends on achieving the goals in daily tasks, which were to follow any updates on her figure of love, the source of her life energy.
Of course, the love of one’s favorite entertainer is not to be criticized. Beatlemania was not a hysterical totalitarianism but a collective popularism that entrained the ears and minds of people. The gist of this book echoes what Marcel Proust advised: “Never meet the people you admire. You’ll be disappointed.” There’s a reason for it.
I believe history is a branch of literature full of events and stories made by artists and artificers weaving facts into myth, and vice versa, into a timeless tapestry of the world that was, is and will be. In that regard, Kipling is an artist who spins beautiful tales of how animals became what they look like into a poetic wheel of ear-delighting and cadenced words aided by gorgeous illustrations distinctively graceful and dazzlingly beautiful.
Kipling’s evolution of animals explains why they look the way they are, such as a Leopard with spots, a Carmel hump, and many more. The stories become a fable and a history of its kind. It’s a literary version of Darwin’s Origin of Species, the wonderful menageries of Man and Beast that cannot live alone despite the differences in species because we are the inhabitants of this world, Earth. But, above all the fantastic tales of wonder, the Cat’s tale stands out in the story and the subject. Kipling’s Cat is proud but not arrogant, independent but affectionate, and vain but graceful. It’s a cat who walks by himself, and everything is alike to him and nothing else. The Cat is a beautiful stranger even if he likes to be a family, a kind of forever loner, the Puss in Boots with a cowboy hat and an empty holster. Kipling’s writer’s eyes saw the romantic solitude in a cat, and the result is one poetic Cat that rhymes well like the graceful way cats do their amazing somersaults.
Just So Stories are not just for children even though it is classified in Children’s literature on the shelves of libraries. It’s a book for everyone who loves legends and magic, who still has a childlike innocence that refused to put away as an adult because it’s in nature. The stories are not for academic analysis or psychoanalysis but simply for the enjoyment of the mind and the delight of the heart. Remember Freud’s saying, “Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.” So are Just So Stories, so delightful and so pleasant.