Laura Miller and The Magician's Book

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Laura Miller is a vigorous reader; the reviews and essays she writes—for, for New York Times, for New Yorker, those stature zones—speed forward with a sort of exhilarating fury, a faith in books and their significance, and a determination to say precisely what she means. If I haven't always agreed with her (do two people ever see eye to eye on every book?), I've always greatly admired her, and when David Foster Wallace died so tragically a few weeks ago, it was Laura's words to which I turned first; she wouldn't appease, she wouldn't heal, but she might help me understand.

Laura has a new book due out soon, The Magician's Book, and its premise intrigues. It's the story of a woman—Laura herself—who fell deeply in love with the Narnia tales as a child and grew disenchanted as a teen. Finally, she allowed her adult self a rebounded intrigue, allowed herself to return to the land of Narnia. What had C.S. Lewis done with his tales to bring this child in? How had it shaped what and how she would read later? Who else had fallen under Narnia's spell? What in the end makes for a literary reader?

All this past week, perhaps even more, I've been talking about The Book Thief with my friend Andra. She read it after I did, we wrote nearly each day of its power. Two nights ago, she turned its final page, and when her husband arrived home, he found her devastated, not wishing to leave the company of the characters she'd met. As I'd lived this, too, as I still have not escaped The Book Thief's spell, I understood. I recognized, in Andra, a kindred heart, a reader who, in Miller's words, pays exuberant attention.

Laura Miller has spent an entire life paying attention to books. I'm betting that we should pay attention to this one.

I'm also wondering what books have seized your heart and have changed who you've become.


PJ Hoover said...

Well I did pick up Undercover yesterday at the bookstore, and I have high hopes :)
I'm really going for variety in my reading right now.
I'm still only about halfway through The Book Thief. Maybe I'm afraid to feel that strongly about the characters - to care too much.

Vivian Mahoney said...

The Book Thief. The Kite Runner. I couldn't read anything else for weeks after these two books. Everything else seemed tasteless.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Loved The Book Thief too. And then had a group discussion afterward moderated by a children's librarian. That was way cool.

Liviania said...

It's hard to tell, sometimes.

Watership Down was the first time I truly ventured out of the children's section. It blew my mind.

The China Garden came to me just as my parents' divorce caused as to move to a new city. I read it over and over for a week as "Time of the Season" kept playing on the radio.

Mary Downing Hahn took me from the West to WWII to contemporary and I loved every trip.

K. A. Applegate taught me about war in The Animorphs, and how we start compromising our own morals as the battle continues. Funny, popular children's books with a dark core.

Lloyd Alexander took me on the journey I started with C.S. Lewis. Concise epic fantasy that I wouldn't dare not expose my future children to.

Nancy Drew taught me to be curious and that girls shouldn't be afraid to use their intelligence.

Beth Kephart said...

PJ, you certainly did not need to do that—but I thank you (and quaver now, in the wake of your hopes).

Vivian and Lenore — we live in the same book mind space.

Liviana — I think I must have read Watership Down right about when you did. What a book. What emotions afterward. Thank you for reviving that title here.

  © Blogger templates Newspaper II by 2008

Back to TOP