Author Profile: Brian Jacques

My moment of concern for today was that my grocery list, at least for twenty minutes, only had three items on it: powdered sugar, light bulbs and chapstick (I know, the cornerstones of every great meal). Anyway, moving away from that tangent, I’m going to be introducing author profiles to the site. I may eventually do some book reviews and critiques on the site, but for now I’d much rather focus on the more positive aspects of writing/reading. Truthfully, I tend to be a bit more forgiving with books and compensate by heaping unnecessarily high amounts of criticism on movies (I swear I’m not a movie snob though, I thoroughly enjoy bad movies).
I suppose someone told me Brian Jacques passed away in February, but I really only processed it in the last couple of weeks when I saw an ad for his final book, The Rogue Crew. For those unfamiliar with him, Jacques was an English author responsible for the Redwall books, a fantasy series for kids that could be best summarized as Lord of the Rings with animals.

As a child, I devoured these books. They inspired me to keep reading and eventually write myself. But I lost touch with his work over the years and honestly, I felt somewhat guilty when I heard that he had passed away as I hadn’t picked up one of his books in many years. So, I went back to revisit his books and in the process, catalyzed a lot of fond memories.

Books we read in our adolescence do not always hold up very well when we revisit them as adults. Sometimes shards of nostalgic memories will usher us through their pages in a sort of dazed state of denial, convincing ourselves that it was just as good as we remember it. But often, we’re disappointed. But I think Jacques’ novels hold up rather well compared to most kids series, because they are laced with an infectious positivity.
For example, I am struck by how often he used exclamation points in his descriptive passages. In my mind, this marks Jacques as a man who truly loved life. His joy for all things can be seen in his lines of his texts, especially when he wrote about food. Reading these books always made me hungry (There is even a Redwall cookbook available) and it was no different when I reread them. See why:

“Magnificent aromas of bilberry scones, hazelnut muffins and oatrose turnovers assailed their nostrils from the top shelves of the four-tiered oven.”

“Dingeye, his face shrouded in whipped strawberry cream, was bolting down candied chestnuts and mintcream wafers at the same time. Thura was dipping a hot vegetable pastie into honeyed plums and woodland trifle, stopping now and then to gulp down great swigs of dandelion and burdock.”

I’m not even sure if half of these food arrangements/combinations exist in real life, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m probably going to stop writing this post and go eat something. Life brims in the pages of his books, seen in his love of food, feast, merriment and adventure. He will be missed. Maybe you yourself have passed the age where you can enjoy his books, but that still doesn’t mean you can’t recommend the series to nieces, nephews, sons, daughters or any sort of stray children that may be wandering around your neighborhood.