Monday, April 30, 2007
The Best Book of All...
I realize that one should never claim to have found the "best" book, but for years now, I've come back again and again to The Thirteen Clocks, by James Thurber. I read it at least every six months (no kidding), and find something new each time I pick it up. I owe a great debt to Steve Gettinger, who bought me my copy long ago...
This is a book of poetry, of wordplay, of silly songs and fairy-tale cadences. It is pretty pure imagination, fantasy at its best. But it's also a cynical book, wry and funny and clever. The story of a prince who follows an impossible journey for the love of a fair maiden, The Thirteen Clocks is also the story of his sidekick, the Golux, who is flawed, mistaken... and yet we trust him.
There are children long gone who never resurface. There is a terrible villain who learns nothing. There is a terrifying beast, the Todal, an agent of the devil whom we never come to understand. Heros are deceitful and the princess is bland. Spies switch sides and are killed for the slightest infractions. This book breaks all the rules beautifully. As good books should.
But here, I have been wasting words. I can't do it justice. Let me show you:
”I am the Golux,” said the Golux proudly, “the only Golux in the world, and not a mere Device.”
“You resemble one,” the minstrel said, “as Saralinda resembles the rose.”
“I resemble only half the things I say I don’t,” the Golux said. “The other half resemble me.”
Oh, if only they did...
Nothing resembles the Golux, or the Thirteen Clocks.