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"Dolphins. Do I even need to write another word? Oh, I know I do, but...dolphins, I had to write it again!"

9.22.2008


There's a sweet review of A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle at Jezebel. I always preferred the books with Poly O'Keefe and Vicky Austin to Meg Murray, but I love them all dearly. This may be the young adult novel closest to my heart, if for no other reason than it was easier to understand and follow than the crazy time traveling in An Acceptable Time. After Madeleine died my first instinct was to go out and get a tattoo of Vicky riding Basil the dolphin. I might still do it someday.

Snippet:

"Like Vicky's minister grandfather, the dolphins advocate a unified theory of everything, one in which not only life and death are intertwined, but evil and good. But when Vicky, on the cusp of womanhood, tries to assert her new psychic powers with the dolphins with Adam to form their own unified theory, she is slapped back:
Without consciously realizing what I was doing, I turned my mind toward Adam. Do a cartwheel in the water, like Basil.
I held my breath.
Adam dove down. Up came his legs. Flip. Head and arms were out of the water. Just like Basil.
Adam, do you really think of me as nothing more than a child? I realize I'm naive and backward for my age in lots of ways, but I don't feel about you the way a child feels. I've never felt about anybody else the way I feel about you, touched in every part of me...Is it only my feelings? Doesn't it touch you at all?
He broke in, saying sharply, "Vicky, what are you doing?"
I could feel heat suffusing my face. "N—nothing."
Now he was shouting at me. "Don't do that!"
"Why? Why not?"
"Because—because—" He clamped his mouth shut. But he was telling without speaking. Because it's too intimate.
But I did it with the dolphins. Why was it all right with the dolphins?
And the answer came lapping gently into my mind like the water lapping about my body. Because this is how the dolphins are, all the time. They're able to live with this kind of intimacy and not be destroyed by it.
I have always loved the part of this book where Leo tells Vicky how his parents made love after his own grandfather's death as an "affirmation of life" (it's not creepy, I swear), and it seems to sum up the entire thesis of this book—that sex and death are intertwangled with joy, which is, as Vicky's grandfather puts it, "the infallible sense of God in the universe.""

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