Life imitating art (books) Vol I

I live my life with my nose in a book. Not to say I don’t experience things in real life, but more often it happens that I will see something in person, or be having a discussion with a friend and realize I’ve only read about it before, whether it’s place, person or thing. When I first moved to DC I felt like I knew what SE DC was like after reading about the neighborhood in James Patterson’s Alex Cross books, as that’s where the detective lives and the neighborhood is described in such detail.

Sometimes I learn about a statue mentioned in a historical fiction book, a work of art a heroine was compared to, the type of architecture of the hero’s ancestral home, and then I finally see the statue or painting in a museum, or hear someone point out a column and I realize “oh so THATS what Georgian architecture looks like?!”

So what I’m leading up to is a specific thing that’s been on my mind that I’ve only read about…I’m not explaining this very well…argh.

An alternate title for this post should have been, “Why Crows Creep Me Out”

Subtitle, “Because of what I’ve heard about them in works of fiction.”

Crows really creep me out, y’all. I think of them as evil familiars, harbingers of bad luck, manifestations of mean mythical creatures, or just plan old bad omens.

So crows are everywhere, lots of them in DC, and every time I hear that caw caw, or see them ruffle their feathers in a tree above me, I shiver and look away. Crows are dark. And ominous. They have creepy eyes. They eat carrion. They are BIG. I am scared of them. And here is why:

1. Bambi – yeah, that’s right, starting off with an EARLY memory here!!! This is embedded in my brain: the crows circling above the hunter’s fire in the movie. And the cawing dear lord the cawing haunts my dreams.

2. Irish Mythology:

  • Nora Roberts: I can’t pin this to a particular Nora Roberts book, but I feel like some of hers have mentioned things like “If you see 3 crows sitting on a fence someone close to you will die” as she’s all about Irish lore.
  • Red Branch, by Morgan Llywelyn: found this on my parent’s bookshelf one summer when I was in middle school, I’m 100% positive NONE of you have read this, but there was definitely something creepy about crows in this retelling of the Hound of Ulster’s story from Irish mythology (you’d like this if you like The Mists of Avalon)
  • In the Mercy Thompson series one of the Grey Lords is a crow, a reference to the war goddess or battle crow in Irish mythology – Badb.

3. The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper: oh god oh god *squeezes eyes shut* just thinking about these books and the crows in them makes me shudder a little! Will sees crows everywhere, is chased by them, is chased by people who turn into crows while trying to figure out what is changing in his life and that he is part of a magical world, and he learns the rooks are the servants of the Dark. I haven’t seen the movie (The Seeker) but I heard they did a good job visuals of how scary the rooks/crows are, can’t find a clip, but here is a poster. This is Will waiting at his bus stop…soooo creepy! I could not wait for that bus with those rooks watching me.

And this was the cover of my copy of the book from the first time I read this series when I was in middle school, can you blame me for becoming scared of crows? All these negative associations of crows/rooks started for me when I was so young!

4. The evil brother, Professor Screw Eyes, from We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s story – I seriously doubt any of you lusty reader readers have seen this cartoon kids movie, anyone…anyone? *crickets* Well anyways Professor Screw Eyes is constantly surrounded by the beady-green-glowing-eyed crows and check out what happens to him at the end of the movie!!!!!

One of the scariest things about crows is there are always so many of them! The image of a tree covered in crows, with them all rustling their huge wings and cawing is just too much for me.

So that is the story of how my real life is affected by things I read in books. Yes I have a crazy, overactive imagination, yes I still duck and flinch when I see black wings out of the corner of my eyes, yes there are more of these examples to come. And yes, no matter how fabulous some people in real life think crows/ravens/rooks might be (even if Jeremy and Mrs. Frisby were friends in The Secret of NIMH were friends) because of what I’ve seen of them in fictional books and movies I will NEVER like them!

What about y’all? How is your real life affected by fictional works?


7 Responses

  1. Oh my god, I love this post, and not just because you sound very paranoid about these crows. I get paranoid about random things too so now I feel like I’m not the only one! The thing that gets me is when JUST as I go under a streetlight it turns off. Isn’t this what happens in books when a demon is following you or something creepy like that? WHAT GIVES streetlights! Stop it!

  2. I do love discovering stuff in real life that I read about in a book first. While I do not exactly get creeped out by crows, I understand the feeling. My favorite creepy fictional crow is from Stephen King’s The Stand.

  3. I take it you missed the PBS documentary about how birds, especially crows, can recognize human faces? Now THAT was creepy.

    Anyway… this happens to me all the time! Although birds don’t really creep me out that much.

  4. Large swarms of birds totally scare me! I think this is more because of the Hitchcock film “The Birds” than anything I’ve read.

    I love reading about places and then visiting them & seeing them come to life. I think that’s my favorite “life imitating art” moment :)

  5. oh man i LOVED the Mists Of Avalon! am going to download Red Branch now! (especially since i’m SUPPOSED to be reading the game of thrones series, which my bf retrieved from his parents’ house for me and then promptly started to re-read himself… slowly… )

  6. i always feel sorry for animals that people are afraid of, so i’d like a crow as a pet. i’d call him calvin. maybe kevin.

  7. Janicu: glad im not alone with this kind of stuff earlier! although if we were together when a streetlight went out above us i wouldnt be very much support bc id freak out just as much as you

    Phyl: *making mental note to NEVER read The Stand*

    heidenkind: seriously?!?! oh god i KNEW i was right to fear them!

    Simone: ugh *facepalm* how could i have forgotten The Birds! totally another influence, i think crows came in the house? but i remember the seagulls in the most detail in the movie

    Alice: The Mists of Avalon was so naughty when i read it in 6th grade! i think the naughtiness is why i remember it so fondly ;)

    mylittlebecky: just dont come crying to me when kevin/calvin turns out to be evil!

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