Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Magician's Book



Yes, you!

I'm talking to you, my Diana, my kindred spirit.

I'm grumpy -really grumpy- so to spare Jacob the sharp edge of my tongue, I'm taking some time to read my new book so that I have one thing to focus on, which will let the rest of my mind and soul and body relax.

It's called The Magician's Book and it's by Laura Miller. I've only gotten through the introduction but she is writing about her relationship with C.S. Lewis's Narnia books as a non-Christian.

She interviewed her second-grade teacher, who first gave her the book.

"You were a child who needed to read C.S. Lewis," she said firmly when, not long ago, I asked her why.

"How did you know? How can you tell something like that?"

"I can't explain. It's just one of those things that happens."

Even today, this intuition strikes me as slightly supernatural, in the same way that Narnia seemed to emerge, by some miracle, out of my own unspoken self. "When you brought the book back," Wilanne remembered as we sat in her cozy apartment, surrounded by books, knitting, and cats, "You told me, and this I have always remembered, that you didn't know that there were other people who had the kind of imagination that you did."

Wilanne and I were not, I think, unhappy children. I grew up in a comfortable American home, in a big, intact family, with a lawyer father and a homemaker mom, and she still remembers feeling fortunate that her father had a steady job when so many others didn't. But we were neither of us, I suspect, entirely satisfied with that.

"You were automatically one of my kids," Wilanne said when I asked her what she remembered about first meeting me forty years ago. By this, she means one of those children "interested in the imagination and in the relationship between the real and the unreal. They are entirely capable of telling the difference between truth and falsehood, but they prefer falsehood occasionally." Nothing exciting had ever happened to me, was how I saw it, and I was convinced that nothing exciting ever could, as long as I was stuck in a world of station wagons and jump rope, backyard swim classes and spelling tests. Then Mrs. Belden handed me a book.

Could there be a truer description of both our childhood and the reason why we became teachers?


ABG said...

Oh Rebecca! What a treat! I've been wanting, wanting, wanting to read that book ever since I saw it reviewed a month or so ago.

That's it.

Thank you for sharing it.

ABG said...

*giggle, just thinking of it*

But I want to be Anne! :)

PrincessMax said...

I think we can both be Anne in this scenario. We've certainly both fallen off enough ridge poles in our time. :-)