Saturday, September 08, 2007

Madeleine




I know you darlings will all join me in mourning the passing of Madeleine L'Engle -- "Wrinkle in Time" author, thoughtful Christian, and tall lanky cutie. Her obit in the NYT is pretty nice, and I note with gratification that it's their most popular story today. I read a lot of Madeleine's memoirs around about middle school and found them hugely inspiring. She was a smart woman who never talked down to her readers and wasn't afraid to wrestle with her faith on the page. She also wrote directly about how awkward and clumsy she could be, which was a great thing for me at age 13.

Thinking about her oeuvre today, I realize how long it's been since I read anything of hers besides "Wrinkle," which stays on my shelf & gets reread occasionally. Madeleine could be all over the map - "A Wind in the Door" is particularly bizarre, and "Certain Women," one of her last adult novels, was a real snooze. But "The Small Rain" is just a lovely book, sort of a modern "Jane Eyre," and "The Other Side of the Sun" is a decent Southern racial drama. I also dig "A Swiftly Tilting Planet." The New Yorker had an interesting profile of her in 2004 - unfortunately it's not archived online - in which her family members are variously angry and dismissive about her memoirs. Still, she wrote great stuff. She was sensitive yet tough. She kicked ass and took names. I mourn her.

Yesterday a thoughtful colleague, with whom I had never discussed Madeleine's work, sent me a nice note with her condolences; she was sad about the news and knew I would be too. I just loved that.
My brother also tried to call me when he heard the news, but didn't realize I had changed my cellphone number (last year) and called some random guy in Ohio by mistake. The random guy's feelings on the passing of Madeleine L'Engle are not known.

4 comments:

Kelly said...

Sigh. So many memories. I actually really liked "A Wind in the Door," especially when Meg had to learn to love her sad, ineffectual principal in order to tell him apart from the two demons and save Charles Wallace's life. (Heavy-handed? Perhaps. But when I was a kid, it actually served to teach me about empathy.)

Remember the scene in "An Acceptable Time" - repeated at least three times throughout the book - where effing Zachary Gray tells Polly (whose name is spelled Polly in that book and Poly everywhere else) that it shouldn't matter if she sleeps with him so long as she's not a virgin, and is she a virgin? And Polly goes all quiet, because she's not sure if oral makes her a virgin.

I think I was 12 or 13 when I read that, and I remember being rather shocked that teenagers had such conversations. (Also that the Murrays had an indoor pool.)

AE said...

I remember Poly/Polly losing her virginity in "A House Like a Lotus" - with some doctor, maybe? I can't remember who he was. I also cannot remember if it was oral. Your memory is much better than mine! There was one book where she acknowledged having added the extra L to her name because everyone kept pronouncing it like "roly poly." She should've stuck with Polyhymnia.

The principal in "A Wind in the Door" was the part that annoyed me. As a reader I can love Charles Wallace but I cannot love Mr. Whatshisname. Oh well...

Mike_R said...

Oral does not count

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