29 December 2009


New resolution-type project: I'm rereading some of my absolute favorite books from elementary school. My co-worker Steph is close enough to my age, and was as relentlessly bookish a child, that we have a lot of touchstones in common, and talking about with her has made me hungry to re-experience them. Not to say that I never read anything dubious in my youth: I shan't be rereading any of the 50+ Baby-Sitters Club novels I devoured, despite the enormous pleasure I garnered from them the first time, and my attempt to get back into the Nancy Drew books a while back imparted the rueful knowledge that the writing wasn't exactly, well, good. But hell, I never ate sugary cereal or watched Saturday morning cartoons: compared to those, reading mountains of innocuous pulp was pretty harmless.

First up, Norton Juster's incredible The Phantom Tollbooth. I think this book, more than any other, introduced me to and created my passion for metaphor. The concepts I read about here first--Short Shrift, the Awful Dynne, the Dodecahedron and the Doldrums--that I can't think of without imagining Juster's personifications! The marvelous similes (the tastes of letters, the sights of sounds, particularly the handclaps of clean white paper)! Middle-Earth and Narnia and Hogwarts are quite all right, but I would say I'd rather live in the Kingdom of Wisdom, were it not for the knowledge that it's already where I spend my days.

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