September 07, 2007

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While I'm Thinking About It


While I'm Thinking About It

I think I have to get my copies back from my sister now.

How do you eulogize someone you've never met? Technically, I don't think you can. But I have read a relative handful of Madeline L'Engle's works, and I suppose the occassion of her death is as good a chance as any to talk about it .

I remember being bothered, even as a kid, that Calvin just sort of knew that Dr. Murray would know how to tesser in A Wrinkle in Time. Why, aside from purposes of the story, would everyone who develops the ability naturally call it that? But it was a minor quibble, and as a young geekling I loved the fact they visited so many different types of planets, and IT still stands as one of the great villains.

A Wind in the Door? That book, was the first perfect novel I ever read. Something in the descriptions, or the characterizations, or probably all three, made me feel like I was really there, sharing in their adventure. What exactly was it that caused Meg to properly identify the real Mr. Jenkins? Beats me, but it's a scene that's stuck with me.

What I remember most about A Swiftly Tilting Planet was how long it was. Might have been the longest book I had read to that point. The fact it's a time travel epic probably has nothing to do with the way I turned out. Ahem.

Of course the twins eventually got their own adventure in Many Waters, and while the setting is a classic (an oasis in the desert where an old kook is building a big boat? Scenario so cool Hollywood revisited the notion again over the summer), it had too many problems for my taste. First, Sandy and Dennys were the normal ones in the Murray family. That was their whole reason for being, and sending them off to antediluvian times kind of ruins that. Letting Yalith be taken by God before the Flood hit was a cop-out. I can see a connection between the Black Thing and the Echthroi, but where do the nephilim fit in? These things bugged me even then.

But that wasn't the one that bugged me the most. In sixth grade, I read A Ring of Endless Light, and was frustrated the whole way through. Not one bloody memorable thing in the entire book, except for the scene where the main character holds the girl who dies of a seizure, then spends the rest of the book moping about it. Yes, I did look the characters' names up in the Wikipedia, but I left them out because that's how much of an impact they had on me, both at the time and now.

That was the last of her books that I read.

That was a lot more negative than I had meant it to be. L'Engle was capable of telling wonderful stories, and I do have fond memories of all three volumes of the original trilogy.



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