Thursday, May 15, 2008

reading thoughts...

I’m reading a book right now…um from the juvenile fiction section again…I’m into chapter three and already I’ve found a few quotes I want to put on here. I wonder at that sometimes. When I read books that seem to be filled with little jewels worthy of being on cute little desk plaques or bumper stickers at least. Sometimes it seems like it’s not even the best of books that have the best of quotes. In fact, sometimes I get the sneaking suspicion that whole books are written right around a great line the author came up with and couldn’t make the rest of the book sound near as good but are readable. That could be the case with this book, but so far it’s intriguing. It didn’t have a dust jacket with a synopsis, nothing on the back. Just a great title and really cool cover. “100 Cupboards” by N.D. Wilson. A boy goes to stay with his aunt and uncle and cousins after his parents become missing. The characters are interesting and different. The small town they live in is called Henry, Kansas. The boy’s name is also Henry. There’s a locked room in the house which once belonged to a dead grandfather who Henry sees one night but then doesn’t remember it but does remember it, sort of like a dream. Then one night, some plaster on the wall above his bed starts flaking off and 2 knobs poke out. This is the beginning of his finding the 100 cupboards. That’s where I’m at right now. So anyway, here are the parts that spoke to me:

Uncle Frank pulled the truck onto a dirt patch that straddled a ditch and faded into the field.
“Here we are, Henry. Tumbleweeds are like people. They tend to collect someplace out of the wind.”
“What?” Henry asked. Frank was already getting out of the truck.
“It’s not just people and weeds,” Frank said. “It’s everything.” He stepped down into the ditch. A trickle of water ran along the bottom and into a culvert. Tangled and muddy, tumbleweed clung to the culvert mouth and rustled around Frank’s legs as he moved. He grabbed the matted weeds, lifted them up, and threw a pile onto the gravel shoulder. The bottom of the lump dripped brown water.
“You ever wonder, Henry, how bits of dust find each other on the floor?” Frank began kicking the remaining weeds into a mound. “Some part of blade of grass gets eaten by a cow and dropped out its back end, where it dries in the sun and gets trampled. Then some wind picks it up, and, of all the little bits of nothing much in the world, it comes in your window and lands on your floor.”
Henry watched while Frank scrambled out of the ditch and threw the tumble-blobs into the back of the truck.
“Then,” Frank continued, brushing off his hands, “that little bit of dust meets another little bit of dust, only it came off your sweater, which was cut from some sheep in New Zealand, and the two bits grab some of your hair and some other hair that you picked up on your shirt from a booth in a restaurant, and then they get kicked around until they all roll under your bed and hide in the corner.”
Frank was trying to tie down the weeds with string.
“It’s the same with people. If they’re a little lost, they get blown around until they drop into some shelter or hold or culvert.”
He snapped off the end of the twine and climbed back into the truck. Henry climbed back in beside him.
“There are holes like that in cities,” he said, “in houses—anyplace. Holes where the lost things stop.”
“Like where?” Henry asked.
Frank laughed and started the truck. “Like belly buttons. Like here. And Cleveland. Henry is on a much smaller scale, so fewer people drift here. And when they climb out, they end up pushed around until they come to rest someplace else.”
Henry watched Uncle Frank shift into gear.
“I was lost once,” Frank said, and looked over at him. “But I’m found now. I’m under the bed. I’m in the same culvert you are. Only, I don’t think you’re done tumblin’.”

Why does this appeal to me? Well, it’s just one of those simple and wonderful musings that I like. And it speaks to that part of me that feels just exactly like that. A tumbleweed. Like a small bit of dust in a tumbleweed. Lost and blown around until I got found along with the other tumbleweed dust riders just like me.

This other bit reminds me of how often I feel like I simply don’t know anything and that the rest of the world is somehow in on the joke.

Henry had never heard of such a thing as a forgotten door. Back at school, he never would have believed such things existed. But here was different. There was something strange about here. He felt just like he had when he’d found out that kids his age don’t ride in car seats and that boys pee standing up. He remembered unpacking his bags at boarding school while his roommate watched. His roommate had asked him what the helmet was for, and Henry had suddenly had the suspicious sensation that he had been kept in the dark, that the world was off behaving in one way while he, Henry, wore a helmet. He had barely prevented himself from answering his roommate honestly. The words “It’s a helmet my mom bought me to wear in PE” were replaced with “It’s for racing. I don’t think I’ll need it here.”
Whatever was going on inside the wall in his room was much bigger than finding out that other boys didn’t have to wear helmets. If there really were forgotten doors and secret cities, and maps and books to tell you how to find them, then he needed to know. He looked around at the tall, dew-chilly grass and for a moment didn’t see grass. Instead, he saw millions of slender green blades made of sunlight and air, thick on the ground and gently blowing, tickling his now-damp feet, and all the while silently pulling life up out of the earth. Each was another kid without a helmet, a kid who knew how things were actually done.
Above him, the stars twinkled with laughter. Galaxies looked. Nudged each other. Chuckled.
“He didn’t know about secret cities,” Orion said. “His mother never told him.”
The Great Bear smiled. “Did his dad tell him about forgotten doors?”
“Only having to do with science projects or bicycle trips.”
“Mostly topographic, or the kind that shade countries in different colors based on gross national product or primary exports.”
“Nothing with ‘Here be dragons’ on the edges?”
“Never. He found a hidden cupboard with compass locks, and do you know what he thought was in it?”
“A unicorn’s horn?
“Or pens.”
Henry sighed. “I don’t even know how to work compass locks,” he said. He stood and started back to the house with a familiar feeling, the feeling of Now I know. The feeling that means tonight you will sneak down to the dormitory dumpster with your helmet, a stack of nightgowns, and your therapeutic bear. The feeling of Tomorrow I will have changed.

Okay, those were much longer than your usual quotes, but I liked all of it…so I left in all the bits instead of just chopping out and using only the meatier parts.

But if you’d like to hear a good short bit. Here’s one that follows just a few lines after the above:

The wind scratched its back along the side of the barn. The stars swung slowly across the roof of this world, and the grass swayed and grew, content to be the world’s carpet but still desiring to be taller.

Okay, back to my book…

p.s. yes, there are capitalized words here. Do not panic! I have not been inhabited by an alien. I’m typing this in ms word, it corrects all my laziness and bad habits.

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