no. (roses_rejoice) wrote,

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Sometimes I feel...nothing at all!

Madeleine L'Engle died last week. When I was a kid she was my favorite writer for a couple of years. You'd think I'd be sad. I wasn't. Here's why:

The first book I read by her was "A Wrinkle in Time." Just like everybody else, when I was about 8. I really loved that book. It was romantic and exciting and suspenseful and everybody in it seemed to really love each other. I dug the explanations of dimensions, and idea that you could tesser through time, and for a while I thought it might really be possible somehow; even though I know now it's definitely a fictional concept, I still wish I could do that so I could get to work quicker. I was mildly annoyed that Meg didn't get to be the genius instead of stupid baby male Charles Wallace, but whatever, I was used to girls being dissed in books. I drew pictures of the characters and if there'd been such a thing as fan communities or fanfic for that book then, I'd of joined it. Now that I am old I recognize it as just another take on Xtian phantasy shite like "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" through a science-fiction filter. I am also old enuf to realize that I dislike the vast majority of science fiction, which is probably why the sequel, "A Wind in the Door" just left me cold. I think the beginning of that book had something to do with dragons...meh. I like Puff the Magic Dragon (tho I never smoked pot), does that count? I never bothered to read anything about the Murrys after that. I didn't like "And Both Were Young" so much, but now I do - it's a good story, and a happy ending, and very believable. I liked "Meet the Austins" and "The Moon by Night" even though the Austins (the family in those books) were as different from my own family as they could possibly be without a prescription. Maybe that was why I liked the books. I attempted to read "Arm of the Starfish" about three times but I didn't understand it and when I grew up I read it again and realized it was about half peacenik propaganda and half James Bond murk and also Adam, the main character, was the kind of overeducated preppie rich kid I found annoying as all hell once I got old enough to identify them, so yeah, that book got like a C. (I was also too stupid to realize that Polyhymnia O'Keefe was Meg and Calvin's kid after they grew up and got hitched. I thought the author just liked the name "O'Keefe" and put it in two of her books. Plus the whole story seemed to be set in the 50s as did "Wrinkle".)

Anyway, by the time I was 10 or 11, I had other favorite authors and I didn't care that much about Madeleine's stuff anymore. When I was about 12 or 13, I decided to start looking for books in the adults section of the liberry, instead of the kiddie part. And at some point browsing through the stacks, I found a little obscure-looking jacketless copy of a book called "Camilla Dickinson" by Madeleine L'Engle, which I read. For some reason, I never checked it out and took it home and read it, I remember reading it mostly at the library. I think the subject matter was too emo for me to want it around my own house where my mom tended to snoop a lot into what I was reading. If a book had romance or even a hint of sex in the book I didn't take it home. I didn't want to have to "have a discussion" with Momz over my private reading bizness that she shouldn't have been mucking around in anyway. (She continued inspecting my reading material right up past when I was in my 20s and had her to my house. I'm kind of relieved she doesn't want to travel and visit down here anymore and can't really see all that well to read.)

Anyway, "Camilla Dickinson" didn't have anything dirty in it, although it did have mentions of sex. The main character was some rich girl with dysfunctional 'rents (the usual, mom-is-a-beautiful-pillhead-and-dad-is-a-rich-self-destructive-womanizer) who live in a fancy apartment in NYC. Camilla has this more boho friend, Luisa, whose parents are the usual drink-and-fight-and-deevoce NY Greenwich Village stereotypes. The kids play games like psychoanalyst for fun. (? um okay - they didn't seem to own TVs and this was all set right after WWII - book published in 1951 - so I figured people were hard up for entertainment.) Then Camilla falls in love with Luisa's brother Frank, who's always been around but more in an annoying way, and they spend this whole summer falling madly in romantic love although it's a completely intellectual romanticism. They go to museums and zoos and an Italian restaurant, and they talk a lot. (Who was it said adolescent romance is mostly conversation? I never really got beyond that stage, I don't think.) They don't even kiss. They just get carried away by the moment and hug twice. Camilla is something like 12 years old at the time of the book so it makes some sense that they don't even make out, although she does end up making out with some poor Italian war veteran who has no legs, or something like that. It's not as awful as I'm describing it. It's a very moving book about kids finally discovering that they have emotions and there is life beyond their parents' sorry dramas. At the end of the book Camilla goes to meet Frank as per usual and finds a note that his 'rents got divorced and he is moving away with his dad and they are leaving right then and there's not even time for him to tell her goodbye so he's just gone. Like that. And she has to deal with the loss. The End.

I read that book over a number of times, or at least the emo parts. I always felt like it was something really private, like a dirty book, only it wasn't dirty. It was just too emo, too private. Aside from not wanting my mom sno0ping, I didn't want the world to know that I was the sort of person who would spend time silently crying in the library corner over Camilla and Frank. I still don't. Which is why I might lock this entry, but I also might not, because it's kind of a moot point. Aside from the fact that almost no one reads, enough people have already found out I am a marshmallow in some ways, and enough people haven't cared, both in the sense of "I don't mind how you are, I still like/love you" and "I don't give a rat's ass about your feelings and I'm going to go ahead and hurt and damage you anyway because I only care about my own feelings/relationships/dick/ etc."

Back on point...the end of the book bugged me. If people were that much in love, wouldn't they be able to write? Or call? There seemed to be telephones in existence, but long distance was expensive then. I think Frank was too em0 to write her or something...I dunno. I was just thinking if they loved each other that much they HAD to find each other again. They had to! There is a part of me that still unfortunately thinks that way even though I have spent many years attempting to beat it into a jello pulp liquid nonexistence with the heaviest bricks and bats I can find. Love can be a fiction, love can be a Lie, love can be misperceived, love can be transitory, and even if Real in some sense of the word, Love can disappear, it can Die, it can be Killed, and I don't mean by a person's physical death. I mean by the words and actions that can kill just like if you took up a knife and killed a know what I mean. Love is not Forever Love, a lot of the time, and if you are lucky enough to find a semblance of permanence once or twice or three times in this world then you done real good.

But I was a romantic kiddo then and I wanted Cam and Frank to stay together. And at some point, between the last time I read that book in the Lakewood Public Library and the library going more or less out of the Book Business and getting rid of all my old Book Friends in favor of romance novels and how-tos and free computers for icky people who are too broke to clomp over to Best Buy and throw down, and me discovering the Internet and discovering there were dealers of Old Books on it and, before Amazon and ABEBooks started offering such items, paying some dealer way way way too much for a badly water-damaged copy of "Camilla Dickinson" just so I could remember how I felt when I was 13...At some point I convinced myself that they had. Found each other again somehow, and stayed together, for life.

Many years later I happened into a bookstore (I think I'd been avoiding them all except for the true crime aisles for years; sometimes it's hard to remember) and I found a paperback version of "A Live Coal in the Sea," the sequel to "Camilla Dickinson". Published wot, 46 years after the fact? Camilla is somebody's grandmother now. And she did find Frank again but they didn't get married, they just stayed friends, and he became some freaking Protestant priest.

Way to ruin it, Madeleine.

Rest in peace, but yeah. I ain't missin' ya.
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