c is for cat

Rules for Anchorites

Letters from Proxima Thule


I missed it too.

You do not not ride alone.

Understandable reservations

I think it is fine and good to take stock of the classics and balance their strengths against their limitations. If we didn't constantly re-evaluate the past, we would have never re-discovered Bach and Shakespeare.

If A Wrinkle in Time fades away, I'm sure that we will find worthy replacements now and in the future.

Are you planning on reading the rest of the books in the series? We wouldn't want to spoil them for you.

Re: Spoiler for future books?

Feel free. Spoilers don't ruin books for me.

Dude. You are not the only one who Meg drove nuts. I read these as a child. I loved them. BUT. Meg drove me nuts. I read for Charles Wallace. And I hated that we never found out why he was truly special. You are not alone.

As a result, as much as I enjoyed the books as a kid, I didn't re-read them as compulsively as I re-read my Edgar Rice Burroughs (and boy do you want gender fail there, yo! LOL) because Dejah Thoris may have been a stereotypical lady, but damn it, she'd knife you if you got uppity.

So, no, don't feel bad for having issues with it. I find it hard to read a lot of kid lit now as an adult. It's why I love Fairyland so fucking much. So go to.

What else do you want to talk about with the book? *gets coffee*

Yeah, I mean, if you say a character is ZOMGSPESHUL every five words, you have to fire that gun eventually.

When I was 10 years old (in 1968), that disembodied brain had me so horrified me that my teacher, who was reading the book aloud to our class chapter by chapter every day after lunch, let me leave the room while she was reading that part. (I had read ahead, you see, so I knew what was coming.)

Afterward, she talked to me very seriously about it and pointed out that if I really wanted to be a vet (my ambition at the time), I was going to have to dissect things and look at innards, including brains. So I threw away that goal, because I was so grossed out.

All of which is to say that yes, the age at which and the time in history when someone reads this book can make a lot of difference.

(My mother was also a scientist, but she wasn't nearly as perfect as Mrs. Murray. She was a neurotic mess who eventually developed a full-blown case of bipolar disorder, poor woman. So Mrs. Murray was a fantasy mom to me for completely different reasons.)

And having grown up with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I didn't find it even alarming.

The Suck Fairy visited that one

I tried re-reading this one last year. The Suck Fairy had visited.

I had those incredibly nostalgic, warm fuzzy memories of experiencing it as a kid. I actually heard it as a serial on the radio as a kid. I remember sitting on my mother's lap in our little kitchen in the trailer and listening. I was immensely disappointed when I discovered I couldn't read it now. Too heavy handed.

I'm not sure where he got this from, but my brother says that when, after many years, you re-visit a book that you loved and discover it now sucks, then between then and now the Suck Fairy has visited and cursed the book.

If you are going to continue the series, I'd be interested to see how your reading of Mrs. Murry in opposition to Mrs. O'Keefe develops once you read A Swiftly Tilting Planet. The tropes of these women are still problematic in ASTP -- and the treatment of mothers and motherhood is even worse in the books about the second generation of the Murry/O'Keefe families! -- but at least L'Engle seems to develop more awareness of what she's doing with mothers.

On Meg's imperfections, and the way they set her against the idealized male characters: Meg was the first heroine I met in books who had the qualities of not being perfect. Meg is grumpy. Meg is whiny, and knows it for a flaw. Meg hates school. I see how these things set Meg apart from the boys around her, the angelically brilliant Charles Wallace and the angelically noble Calvin. Yes, the gender dynamics are troubling, and I see them now that you've shown them to me. But if I had to choose, I would far, far rather make Charles and Calvin less perfect and keep Meg as she is.

I don't mind Meg being not perfect. It's that everyone else IS, while also having power that is not about Love, the ultimate feminine trait, most especially Love of Men. She can be flawed and still not be the most useless one in the room. She's like the Kari Byron of the Murrys.

Despite the book being in my house throught my childhood and is probably still at my parents house I have never read it.

As far as the periodic table goes I used to have about 80 elements memorized. Now I just listen to Tom Lehrer instead.

I think Meg didn't bother me because she was such a Mary Sue (not a term I knew at the time). I was 14 and moody and didn't have any magic powers, so that made her the relatable center of the story. If she'd been OMGSPECIAL too, it would have been distancing.

So it made it like a really good funhouse ride for a 14-year-old girl (pre-High-Def-3D etc...) because I could basically ignore what characterization there was for her & just Be In her.

How was she a Mary Sue if she was flawed and didn't have powers?

By the end of A Swiftly Tilting Planet, you will have your answers as to where Charles Wallace is. I'll say this, I've read these books a lot (I actually am Christian, so the God stuff doesn't bother me), including very recently, and I always thought the primary reason Charles Wallace was so important to protect in Book One is because he was full of self enough to be the most vulnerable to IT.

The brain itself wasn't that scary to me, but I think it wasn't as tired when the book first came out.

...but MLE herself said she didn't know what happened to CW, and that she'd write about it if it ever came to her.

My own $0.11...

Owned the trilogy, read them as a child, loved them. I certainly see where you are coming from with Meg. I guess I always treated her more as the catalyst for the others- even if she didn't have super-powers of her own, the fact the she was willing to go into the same areas as Charles and Calvin made her ever braver by comparison.

The Brain comment is a little unfair- the book came out years before Stephen King, and if it's a cliche now, isn't that like saying The Exorcist isn't a scary movie because we've seen dozens of movies and parodies using the same concept?

I would recommend reading the other two books (Calvin's mother plays an unexpected role in the third book). I thought the third book (A Swiftly Tilting Planet) was the best of the bunch, and hope you're able to read the others.

I said it wasn't fair--that too many others have done it since, and I can't read it the same way.

But the girl being just a catalyst for the men? That's old school, and it doesn't make anything better.

I really think it's just one of those things that doesn't age well. My 2nd grade teacher read it to us in 1982 and it was the most awesome thing ever, but I've never reread it since and after reading your post probably won't.

I agree completely with you.

In 1982, the book was awesome and wonderful and magical. Now, thirty years later, its flaws are more obvious.

Some things don't age well.

This was a book I loved dearly, but have been unable to go back and read it as an adult, because of my fear that the suck fairy visited while I wasn't looking.

While I haven't read any of the books in quite a long time, I remember liking the second and third more: A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. I feel like I liked those better because there was something much more explicitly difficult and melancholy about them, whereas in some way I felt like A Wrinkle in Time was supposed to have a more pat happy ending sort of kids' story thing going on, and yet..and yet. The second and third felt older, and seemed to be more about changing, rather than 'and our whole point here is to put things back the way they were'. Maybe it was just that at the time I was reading them, the protagonist age of the second and third were hitting the ideal 'slightly older than the reader' mark which makes it easier to identify with.

This is a book I still re-read every couple of years, usually when life has kicked me in the metaphorical balls. It's comforting for some of the reasons you describe -- the sense of family, of home, of how well Meg fits into that dynamic of her clan of not-exactly-normal people. I adored her as a child (and I'm 29 so I first read this in the early 90s) because I felt I was exactly like her. As I've grown up I've realized some of its faults, but I still love the book's charms and nostalgia, and I find it comforting. The best of the series is probably A Swiftly Tilting Planet; it's got some interesting ideas regarding fate and a lot of frustratingly amazing stuff with Charles Wallace, too.

By the way there is a Disney movie version of Wrinkle, but RUN AWAYYYYY. Never have I wanted to kick a television so badly.

Trivia: L'Engle was asked if the Wrinkle in Time movie had "met your expectations," and said "Yes. I expected it to be bad, and it was."

I too have never read it. I tried listening to the audiobook a while ago and couldn't get past the aliens singing Jesus' praise. Maybe I'll try the physical book as I can skip such things easier. = ]

PS-And speaking of audiobooks, I have to say you narrated The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland... wonderfully and if you ever feel the inclination to read other books, I for one would buy it based on that fact alone.

Aw, thank you!

And yeah, the Jesus stuff is really bald and out there, as opposed to mildly metaphorized in Narnia. I have trouble with explicitly Christian books (as opposed to other faiths) because they treat it as obviously the Facts of the Universe, not as part of the fiction, and frankly I live in a world where people are always trying to convince me of those Facts. It's the ultimate insider art, and it always feels awkward and didactic to me. Because we're traveling in space! But Jesus is here so you should be aware it's not entirely fiction?

I did not read this as a kid either. I read it as an adult and I remember being annoyed by Meg's temper tantrums, too, and wanting more out of the ending.

Maybe if I had read it when I was younger I would have had the love for it that you describe people having, but as it is, it's not for me.

Than you for putting into words the things I couldn't quite put my finger on about Meg -- I've owned the whole series for ages and this book always seemed skewed for me. I did really enjoy the second one, A Wind In The Door -- it spurred my fascination with biology and genetics -- but again Meg is relegated to the role of "loving the male characters." In the second book, Charles Wallace becomes deathly ill, his mitochonrdia and oxygen levels are involved, and somehow his life is tied to everyone else's, and there are all sorts of powerful male characters... Meg's role is strong, but still... she saves the world with love. Like, literally, she wraps her arms around the universe (Charles Wallace, reminiscent of Fantastic Voyage and loves everything.
A Swiftly Tilting Planet has Meg in a role that was kind of iffy for me. She's pregnant and her doctor brother wants her to stay in bed. But she telepathically travels with Charles Wallace on his time-traveling adventures in which he leaps into people's bodies, and she does save his life a few times, but again, she always seems to be The Lover Of All The Men. I dunno.

I loved the series and in many ways I identified w/Meg as I felt I was the 'normal/average' one in my family. I love the concepts and ideas in A Wind in the Door the most. I have some issues w/how some things are presented in A Swiftly Tilting Planet(Native American presentation), which when it was written was some of the most enlightened reps in pop ya fiction(1978). I still use some of the concepts presented in Door as very sensible, for if we and our universe are not interdependent, then it doesn't make sense to me. Just babbling :) I also listened to the radio play and that was well done, especially the Happy Medium! I don't know why, but YA fiction has had more of an impact on me than a lot of other things. Joan Aiken, L'Engle, Diane Duane, hmmm, female writers with strong female leads, maybe that is the theme,

I feel like I have missed a beautiful and moon-colored train where all the other children can shriek in delight and trade tales of tessering, leaving me to stand on the platform mumbling "But..."

I feel this way about a lot of things, Wrinkle of Time among them, because I've never read it either.

I'd leave the other books alone. I read this young enough and loved it so much that I was able to handwave the gender issues that bothered me even on a first reading, even as a child circa the late 60s/early 70s. The sequels, especially the last ones, enraged me. As far as I recall, Meg ends up as a housewife.

Oh, of course she does. *facepalm*

I loved those books but also largely agree with you. It's very much a product of its time and while it isn't quite as good with female characters as Andre Norton's fiction of the early 60s, but is also well better than anything else I've seen from that era.

I noticed the religion as a kid and rereading it as an adult, but I also found it relatively non-problematic, as opposed to attempting Lewis' Narnia series and his Space Trilogy, the first of which had religious stuff that deeply horrified me when I attempted to reread it as an adult, and the second of which horrified me as a teen. At least from my own PoV, I found it deeply Christian, but also not remotely vile or annoying about it.

Once again, it's a book that is now old enough to be a bit strange, which in part is simply the wonderful fact that our own world is very different in many positive ways from the world of 1962.

At least in Narnia it's under cloak of metaphor, and I can ignore it.

I read it in that sweet spot age-wise. Or what should've been. I actually found myself more compelled by the one where her twin brothers go hang out with Noah.

I fail as a geek girl.

Though it's possible it was too religious for me. I had real trouble reading books invoking Christianity that weren't, like, the Bible. Because I kept wondering if it was bad that I was reading them and what exactly is the author trying to convince me of and is this evil? (Felt that way for sure about OSC's Seventh Son books.)

I liked the Noah one, too. I still want a wee tiny woolly mammoth.

I was another kid obsessed with WiT and MLE's work; it got me through a rough childhood. I think what I loved most about the book was it treated me -- the kid reader -- with respect. She didn't translate Mrs. Which's quotes; she expected me to get the concept of tessering. But I agree with your criticisms: it doesn't age well. MLE was also a devout Episcopalian and wrote a lot of theological musings, so I see her fiction as really being about her exploring her faith. I can't read it these days, but there was a time when it was important to me.

Oh, and stay away from The Small Rain and A House Like a Lotus. Homophobia fail like whoa. As an incredibly repressed teenage lesbian, I really didn't need my first literary encounter with dykes to be alcoholic predators.

She does translate them though?

I found Wrinkle in Time to be boring and kind of annoying. Granted, I read it when I was twenty. If I'd read it at age nine, I probably would have liked it a whole lot better.

I prefer A Swiftly Tilting Planet (despite the god-god-god and the seriously Noble Savage thing going on with the People of the Wind) by a significant margin. I read that when I was about fourteen, and I still like bits of it.

I really enjoyed An Acceptable Time, which is about one of Meg's daughters. It involves Traveling To Pre-History, and probably has more Questionable Stuff (re: gender and/or race) than I remember. I read it when I was 17 and haven't acually seen it since. I recall there being less of the god-god-god thing going on in that one, though I could be wrong.


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