As much as I’ve ever explained it to myself (being intellectually lazy, and consequently a kind of National Park for underdone thoughts), the fantastic turn of vision suits both my sense of the world as a profoundly strange and deceptive place, and my deepest sense of poetry, which is singing. It also gives me the richest possible forest of lives and happenings to move in, busy and shadowed, at home in the shadows of time. At any rate, I am advised that I start talking like that after the second San Miguel.
After the third, I am likely to announce that all writing is fantasy anyway: that to set any event down in print is immediately to begin to lie about it, thank goodness; and that it’s no less absurd and presumptuous to try on the skin of a bank teller than that of a Bigfoot or a dragon. But the truth seems to be that I just see like that, and sing like that, and always have.
Peter S. Beagle is one of those writers who seem to have sprung into the world, like Athena, fully formed and gleaming. His characters are as deep, rich, and real as the fantastic realms in which they dwell. The hapless wizard Schmendrick, the widow Mrs. Klapper, the fading goddess Sia, and the cruel King Shrewd are all drawn with extraordinary empathy. Beagle’s magic never serves as a mechanistic plot device, but it never becomes ham-handed symbolism, either. It’s just another part of a world full of beauty and terror, inhabited by people trying to get by.