Saturday, February 23, 2008

In Which I Finish the Time Quartet

I was delighted to see that Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle focuses this fourth and final book of the collection on Sandy and Dennys. As I stated in my previous post on A Swiftly Tilting Planet, I was becoming bored with Meg and Charles Wallace. I also liked that the book turned back to a previous time when the family was younger, Sandy and Dennys not already in college, etc.

And that's where my pleasure ends. I loved, no adored!, L'Engle's non-fiction exploration of the book of Genesis. And It Was Good, A Stone for a Pillow, and Sold Into Egypt are far more intimate and interesting than these novels for the quartet. And because of my adoration for both the Genesis Trilogy and A Wrinkle in Time I am so disappointed that I could not and did not like the rest of the Quartet more.

Before reading Many Waters I did not know that it would be a visit to the story of Noah and the Ark. The copy of the Quartet I have is a four-in-one volume and I had removed the dust jacket intentionally going into each volume in blissful ignorance. And I give mild kudos to L'Engle for not immediately identifying the Biblical context for this final book. However, as soon as I read the names Lamech and Japheth I knew immediately who "the father" was. The rest of the story was so boring and predictable. I am not referring to the fact that Noah is called to build the Ark. Of course, that is predictable. I refer to the details which L'Engle had to add to flesh out the stories, especially the roles that each of the women, who remain unnamed in the Bible, and how their stories would play out.

Also, as a mother of multiples, I was hugely disappointed that Sandy and Dennys were so interchangeable. What little difference there is in their personalities is completely negated by how identical they are in their responses to their experiences. The only time either of them responds differently to a person is only the result of the brief separation the twins experience. And that they were both attracted to the same woman was not very believable. Although some twins are attracted to the same type of person, most I have met and known have been very different in their personal tastes. Especially when it comes to sexual attraction.

I think that, ultimately, my appreciation for L'Engle's non-fiction has overshadowed her fiction narrative to such a degree that I cannot enjoy her imagination. If I were to choose to read more of her young adult fiction or turn to her Crosswick's Journals I would simply have to choose the latter. Unfortunately, after finishing the quartet, I have lost my taste for L'Engle and think I'll just move on. At least for now.

Friday, February 22, 2008

In Which I Write About Everyone

Okay. Maybe not everyone but still . . .

First the Marc featured in the following website is MY MARC, aka my last born child, aka the surprise package, aka twin brother to Joe.

This reminds me of the time when my daughter's fanart was chosen by a Sega based website that regularly featured the best Sega inspired fanart. What made this so remarkable is that it was a Japanese based site and we all, the children and I, found it remarkable that a Japanese site had discovered my daughter's fandom.

And because it is Friday it is puppies day which means I have another video of the puppies to share. Actually, Marc took this video. Woohoo!

Those are my feet coming in and out in the background. I was cooking dinner and trying to avoid the camera. And if you listen oh-so-closely you can hear American Idol in the background although, truth be told, I was watching another show. I won't say what I was watching because I am ashamed of myself.

(Insert blush here)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

In Which I Finish a Book of Poetry

The blurbs and praise on the back describe Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin’s poetry is enigmatic and eccentric. If you like your poetry to be enigmatic and eccentric then you will probably appreciate The Brazen Serpent. My expectations of iconic metaphors and religious imagery was not realized. But I read it and now I can add it to my list of books read.

That Summer

So what did she do that summer
When they were all out working?

If she moved she felt a soft rattle
That settled like a purseful of small change.
She staggered through the quiet of the house,
Leaned on a flowering doorpost
And went back inside from the glare
Feeling in her skirt pocket the skin on her hands,
Never so smooth since her fourteenth year.

One warm evening they were late;
She walked across the yard with a can
Watered a geranium and kept on going
Till she came to the ridge looking over the valley
At the low stacked hills, the steep ground
Between that plunged like a funnel of sand.
She couldn’t face back home, they came for her
As she stood watching the hills breathing out and in,
Their dialogue of hither and yon.

Aries Horoscope for week of February 21, 2008

I'm 99 percent positive that in the coming week you will not wind up in a hand-to-hand battle on top of a speeding truck with a rogue agent of the secret government. It's also highly unlikely that the next time you open your closet door you will be forced to engage in magical combat with a well-dressed goblin from the fifth level of hell. On the other hand, Aries, it might actually be wise for you to instigate a fair fight in a safe place with a good person who is basically your ally. You two need to air out some buried tensions in order to get the most out of your future collaborations.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

In Which I Finish a Young Adult Novel

I took a break from Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quartet because I was less than thrilled with The Wind in the Door. I'm happy to say that I was more enchanted by A Swiftly Tilting Planet. So much so that I am almost sorry that there is a book in between the first and third of the quartet.

The one thought I had as I read A Swiftly Tilting Planet is that L'Engle's understanding of quantum physics and chaos theory is better written, developed, and explored in these novels written for adults than it is in such pseudo-scientific presentations as The Secret and What the Bleep Do We Know? There is obviously something ironic about a series of young adult novels being more sophisticated and relevant than these Oprah hyped best-sellers.

L'Engle takes a mythic theme--brother against brother--and explores it through time as Charles Wallace travels from time to time with the help of an annoying unicorn. As a reader I quickly saw the interconnectedness that it took Charles and Meg many leaps to make. And the shifts through time quickly becomes confusing as names blur into meaninglessness. Family names change through time but are so similar that it is challenging to differentiate between one person and another. It would be an incredibly confusing book to read over an extended period of time.

My biggest complaint about the book is that although L'Engle does a good job of re-exploring the iconic Cain and Abel story this theme has been explored better by other writers. If I were to recommend a novel about this theme of struggle and redemption I would direct any reader to Steinbeck's East of Eden without hesitation; the character of Lee remains one of the few literary characters I have ever wished to know in real life. Unfortunately, by this third book, I didn't really care about Meg or Charles Wallace. I am going to force myself to read the fourth book simply because I am curious to do so but the romance I have for A Wrinkle in Time is being worn down by the relationship with these characters lasting too long. Perhaps Many Waters will redeem the series and make a quartet a necessisity rather than a means of milking a cash cow.