the mysterious edge of the heroic world

I was on vacation.  Did you think I had abandoned my blog post already? And I have dubbed this vacation The Vacation of Free Reads. Now, the library is free, of course (unless your spouse checks out books on your card, fails to tell you and racks up $8.10 in fines, but I digress). Library borrowing is not the free I mean, however.

For D, free means “costs no money.” So he downloaded MacBeth, Pride and Prejudice and The Importance of Being Earnest to read on his iPod.  Then he won The Neuromancer as a prize in the summer reading program at our library, so he read that too (sort of, he says it has “too many characters”).

But to me, free means “costs no additional time.” So while I did read Shadow of Night as promised (more later),  I also  stocked up on audiobooks and spent our drive listening to The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World by E.L. Konigsburg (of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler fame).

I loved this book.

For the writing.

And that is a rare and wonderful thing.

Unconventional similes dot the pages.  I first noticed it when “William raised his shoulder slowly and tilted his head slightly, like a conversational semicolon before continuing.” But they’re everywhere.

Little gems of wisdom pop up in unexpected places, and so are saved from being trite. I especially loved this one: “Friendship is a combination of art and craft.  The craft part is in knowing how to give and how to take. The art part is in knowing when, and the whole process only works when no one is keeping track.”

The characters are lifelike (just like Mixed Up Files and View from Saturday)–idiosyncratic, full of mistakes, affectations, disappointments and secrets…but still heroic in the ways they learn to listen to each other’s stories.

I think the best way I can say it is this: while Mrs. Zender suggests that 90% of every person is hidden from view, Konigsburg manages to unveil another few percentage points with her impeccable craft.


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