Category Archives: Magical Writing

Noticing new things when reading a book for the nth time is my happy thought

I have read To Kill a Mockingbird about five times. Love. That. Book. But I always struggled with the freaking year it’s set in. I always thought it was the thirties, but so many people told me it was the turn of the century, or the forties, or even the fifties, and I was never sure.

But now I’m reading it again for my awesome independent study, and I found this line: “But it was a time of vague optimism for some of the people: Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself.”

Oh, to write so eloquently as to state the year without ever stating the year. Oh, to be able to write a book that requires five readings before finding that amazing line, just because all the other lines are so great that they can’t all be caught the first time through.


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Magical Writing: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

“Look at all these books,” he said.

“There aren’t that many,” I said. It was a small library in a small high school in a small town.

“There are three thousand four hundred and twelve books here,” Gordy said. “I know that because I counted them.”

“Okay, now you’re officially a freak,” I said.

“Yes, it’s a small library. It’s a tiny one. But if you read one of these books a day, it would still take you almost ten years to finish.”

“What’s your point?”

“The world, even the smallest parts of it, is filled with things you don’t know.”

Wow. That was a huge idea.

Any town, even one as small as Reardan, was a place of mystery. And that meant Wellpinit, that smaller, Indian town, was also a place of mystery.

“Okay, so it’s like each of these books is a mystery. Every book is a mystery. And if you read all the books ever written, it’s like you’ve read one giant mystery. And no matter how much you learn, you just keep on learning there is so much more you need to learn.”

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Magical Writing: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

And when I was asleep I had one of my favorite dreams. Sometimes I have it during the day, but then it’s a day-dream. But I often have it at night as well.

And in the dream nearly everyone on the earth is dead, because they have caught a virus. But it’s not like a normal virus. It’s like a computer virus. And people catch it because of the meaning of something an infected person says and the meaning of what they do with their faces when they say it, which means that people can also get it from watching an infected person on television, which means that it spreads around the world really quickly….

And eventually there is no one left in the world except people who don’t look at other people’s faces and who don’t know what these pictures mean

and these people are all special people like me. And they like being on their own and I hardly ever see them because they are like okapi in the jungle in Congo, which are a kind of antelope and very shy and rare.

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Magical Writing: The Catcher in the Rye

“The funny thing is, though, I was sort of thinking of something else while I shot the bull. I live in New York, and I was thinking about the lagoon in Central Park, down near Central Park South. I was wondering if it would be frozen over when I got home, and if it was, where did the ducks go. I was wondering where the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over. I wondered if some guy came in a truck and took them away to a zoo or something. Or if they just flew away.” – p.13

“I remember I asked old Childs if he thought Judas, the one that betrayed Jesus and all, went to Hell after he committed suicide. Childs said certainly. That’s exactly where I disagreed with him. I said I’d bet a thousand bucks that Jesus never sent old Judas to Hell. I still would, too, if I had a thousand bucks. I think any one of the Disciples would’ve sent him to Hell and all-and fast, too-but I’ll bet anything Jesus didn’t do it. Old Childs said the trouble with me was that I didn’t go to church or anything.” -p. 100

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Magical Writing: Anastasia Krupnik

“She dribbles cranberry sauce on her dress, and she talks with her mouth full. I hate that.”

Her mother didn’t say anything.

“And she forgets my name. I hate that, too.”

Her mother didn’t say anything. She put mashed potatoes into a yellow bowl. Anastasia started to cry. A salt-flavored tear came down the side of her face and into the corner of her mouth; she tasted it with the tip of her tongue, and waited for the next one.

“I don’t hate grandmother,” she said in a voice that had to find its way out lopsided, around the tears. “But I hate that she’s so old.

“It makes my heart hurt.”

Her mother took a paper napkin from the kitchen table, knelt on the floor beside Anastasia, daubed at her wet cheeks with the napkin, and put her arms around her.

“All of our hearts hurt,” she said. They went together to wake up Anastasia’s father, and the three of them helped the grandmother to the table, where they sat her in the best chair, the one with the arms. They all smiled when the old woman recognized her favorite plate, touched the blue flowers fondly, and said, “Forget-me-nots.”

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Magical Writing

When I tell people that I’m basically a Child Lit major (easier/sounds less pompous than “I concentrate on the Cultural Implications of Modern American Children’s Literature”) they usually cock their head, kind of like my dog Max does when he’s confused (which is a lot), and say “Oh. That’s nice.”

I’m tired of that. Nobody cocks their head and says “That’s nice.” to an 18th Century Literature scholar, but which books matter more in the everyday persons life? The spark notes of Great Expectations they read in 10th grade? Or the book they read late at night under the covers when they were eight, because they just couldn’t put it down?

So I thought I’d share tidbits from the books I’m reading for my classes this semester. The beautiful bits that you just can’t find in adult literature.



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