Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Wrinkle Sublime

Have you ever read a book or watched a movie when you were little, absolutely falling in love with it. You absorb the story, and pretty soon, even your play time becomes tinged with the nuances of the book or movie? Then, years later, you reread or rewatch the same movie, with a very different opinion?

That happened to be several years ago. The movie? The Goonies. If you didn't see it, imagine Indiana Jones, only pint-sized. A bunch of kids looking for lost treasure, trekking through dungeons, etc. In fact, I'm pretty certain that one of the kids in The Goonies was the same kid who was in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Anyhow, I had recorded the movie from television, and a few years after my wife and I were married, I pulled out the video all excited to have her watch. I mean, the movie was awesome. Except, for the next hour-and-a-half, I kind of cringed. The movie was clearly aimed at kids, because as an adult, I'm afraid it seemed rather pathetic. And, of course, my wife lost all faith in any memories I had from my childhood.

Well, I'm happy to say not all memories are misguided. Such is the case with one of my absolute favorite books as a kid, A Wrinkle in Time.

I haven't read the books in ages, so I wasn't sure what to expect going into it as an adult. But as I listen (because, this time around, I'm listening to the audiobook version), I'm truly amazed at how talented L'Engle was.

I feel like I'm re-experiencing my childhood, because one of the absolutely amazing things about this story is that while it is a fantasy, it actually delves into some fairly complex scientific concepts. I remember reading this book as a kid all proud of myself because I could grasp just what a Tesseract really is, and how wrinkling time really works. It made me feel smart, like I was in on this grand secret that lesser people didn't grasp. I have to imagine that was L'Engles intention.

I'm also amazed at how many Biblical references are scattered throughout the book. This is something I never saw as a child. As an adult, whole passages of scripture are expertly woven into the dialogue, tying together a fantastical world with a religious one, where God exists. And not just any old god invented for the purposes of a story, but the God of the Bible as we know it.

Reading such wonderful literature has its downsides, though. As a writer...as one attempting to write a fantasy aimed at the young adult as well...I have to wonder if I can ever pull off what L'Engle did. Can I truly inspire children the way that I was inspired? Will there come a day where the friends of my kids are running around their yard imagining themselves as mindwielders?

Time, I suppose, will ultimately determine that. Of course, I wish I could look into the future and see...know for sure if my writing efforts will ever come to fruition. Perhaps if I Tesser. Perhaps if I can just wrinkle time enough, I might be able to tell. So, if you'll excuse me, I have some mental work to do.

P.S. If you see some guy standing on the streets staring ahead at absolutely nothing, his eyes all squinty, shoulders tight with concentration...don't go near him. It is just me...Tessering!


Kassie said...

oh, I have several movies that are like this. One that comes to mind is "Bugsy Malone", a musical gangster movie where all the characters are kids (Scott Baio, Jodi Foster star) and the guns shoot whipped cream or marshmallow or something. I rented it a few years ago and couldn't watch the whole thing.

I love, love, love L'Engle's "A Ring of Endless Light". Have you read, "Madeleine L'Engle Herself : Reflections on a Writing Life " ? I was just looking at that on Amazon...

RyanBruner said...

I haven't read anything by L'Engle other than the next two in the series after A Wrinkle in Time. (I believe they are A Wind In the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet.) But, I'm thinking I want to read more of her work now.