Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Time Traveling

It didn't occur to me until the last words passed through the earbuds of my iPod and I found myself unable to do anything more than just continue to walk, walk straight ahead, that I had just finished, within days of each other, two books about time travel. And that I had been nearly paralyzed by the beauty of both of them. That they made time stand still for me.

Sometime last year, after a fairly long hiatus during which time Em was working on her reading-on-her-own skills and I was working on trying to transform N from a special-needs kid into a plain old special kid, she and I began reading together again. Mostly old classics and not-so-classics from my childhood, with some newbies thrown in for good measure. In fact, now that I think about it, I probably left those off of my books of 2006 list, didn't I. I'll have to do something about that.*

In any case, just a few days ago, we finished reading A Wrinkle in Time. I will allow no argument when I say that it is The Greatest Child's Book Ever Written, bar none. There are excellent books out there for kids. There are books I loved. But A Wrinkle in Time is in its own category, and I was thrilled to watch Em sink into the story with the same delight that I did when I was a kid.

Last night, when the kids' beloved Uncle was over, he, Em and I had a rousing discussion about the book, complete with re-enactment of the final scene, when Meg realizes that the one thing she has that It does not is the ability to love. Em talked about how much she loved the whole concept of moving the atoms in a wall aside to be able to walk through a solid wall; I talked about how much I loved the explanation of tessering, which is illustrated using an ant walking along the hem of a skirt. We were talking excitedly, our words and ideas interrupting one another's. It was exactly the sort of moment that I used to envision back in my younger days, when I thought about what it would be like to have kids.

If I could tesser through time and space, that is a moment to which I'd like to regularly return.

And then, today, I finished listening to The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger.

Let me begin by saying this: I am a total book snob. The title of this book turned me off, made me think it would be some genre, pulp-fictiony, sci-fi-ish tale. The popularity of this book turned me off even more. How could anything millions of people can read and enjoy be deep or insightful or smart? It might be entertaining, but only on the most superficial level.

I am an ass. And I was totally wrong.

I loved this book. I'm a sucker for a good love story, and oh, this was a good love story. I was awed by the precision of the plotting, the brilliance of the language, Niffenegger's ability to make me laugh out loud and to make me gasp out loud. I envied her her skill as a writer; I envied Clare and Henry their relationship. I never wanted the story to end, and I realized just how much that longing mirrored some of the basic concepts of the book--the inexorability of time, despite its elasticity. When the audiobook ended during my hike to the supermarket and back, I walked the last quarter-mile to my house with the earbuds in place, the iPod still on, silent. I couldn't bear to break the spell.

All I can say now is that I hope there's a sequel in the works. I want to know what Alba decides; I want to know what happens to her. And that in itself is amazing, because I hate sequels. They never deliver. But I have a feeling that if anyone can do it, Niffenegger can.

And one more thing: God, I wish I could tesser. God, I wish I could time-travel. God, I wish I could love and be loved the way Meg loves Charles Wallace, and Clare and Henry love one another. [Insert standard disclaimer here about how much I love Baroy and he loves me, but how of course it's not like in the these books, and you all know it, so stop looking at me like that.]

*I'll post a Books I Read with Em in 2006 entry in the next day or two. Promise.

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