Madeleine L’Engle’s Chronos and Kairos

I really have to work on posting entries when I first think of them. I’ve got a few ideas waiting to be written. This is the first one! (Chronologically speaking in order of when I thought of them, as well. Funny.)

I read through my Madeleine L’Engle books over the past couple months, seeing which ones I really didn’t have an interest in any longer. (Of course I read through them chronologically: A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, Many Waters, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, The Moon by Night, The Young Unicorns, Arm of the Starfish, A Ring of Endless Light, Troubling a Star, A House Like a Lotus, and An Acceptable Time. I don’t have Meet the Austins or Dragons in the Waters.)

It turns out this is harder than I expected. If I were to go solely by story, I would get rid of The Moon by Night, The Young Unicorns, Arm of the Starfish, and Troubling a Star. But if I were to consider the whole book, the only title I’m still willing to give away is The Young Unicorns. It’s because the other titles have characters connected to the books I’m not giving away. Argh! Me and my sentimentality!

A bit of likely unnecessary backstory: the books I’m considering disposing of I’ve read only once or twice before this winter (except Troubling a Star, which I’ve read a few times), and probably bought only to read more about Ms. L’Engle’s characters. For the most part, I find them somewhat dry and dragging. Possibly because of the printing. If it looks like it came from the ’90s, I tend to read the story as dry.

Seriously, newspaper-quality paper and thick type? Come on! How much money were these publishers trying to save here? How much money did they really make in the long run? Especially A House Like a Lotus. I don’t know what typeface was used, but it looks like a modern typeface. In a book? Yuck.

Back to the original topic. If I take into account the characters in the books, I really want to keep Arm of the Starfish because it has Polly (Poly?) O’Keefe in it. Don’t really care for the story (never liked mysteries; once I read it the first time, the re-read value goes down by about 95%), but I like seeing how different she is from in AHLaL. I see growth, change, damage from your average high school setting.

Since I’m keeping Adam Eddington’s story before ARoEL, I feel like I should keep TMbN for Vicky. Zachary Gray is also in TMbN, who’s also in ARoEL and AAT. (Ooh, even longer period of development!) After that, I begin to think I should keep TaS just to wrap up the whole Adam/Vicky story, although I figure I can just remember that they stay connected. (One time I tried reading TaS again and I couldn’t even finish it. Do you know how rare an occurance that is?)

So I end up giving away only TYU and TaS. TaS is a fairly thick book; I’ll gain lots of bookshelf space giving that book away. Which is the main reason I’m reading through the books. (Mum made me a new bookshelf last summer for the foot of my bed where I can put my comics and some DVDs and CDs, and already I’ve got a stack of books about two feet tall with no place to go!)

AotS and TMbN are thin books, they won’t take up much shelf space. But it bugs me that these books are sitting on my shelf that I never ever ever plan to read ever again! Unless I’m really bored with whatever else I have. *twitch*

A comment about the two later Polly books: I know the two fit into two different series (does AHLaL go in with the Chronos books? it does have Zachary … but then he shows up in a Kairos book as well…), one is more grounded in reality and the other is more of a fantasy. But still. Does Polly feel like a completely different character in each book? Or is it just my mind yet again getting influenced by appearances (this time the covers), so AHLaL feels more dry (the type doesn’t help either :P) and AAT is rich and fun?

I know in AHLaL she’s recovering from a deep hurt, and she’s around people who aren’t her grandparents (everyone cleans up for their loving grandparents, right?), but still. The AAT Polly seems younger. And some other stuff that would come to mind better if I weren’t writing this at 1:30 in the morning. Wow, I typed a lot. Why do I always do that? And writing school papers just sucks hardcore! I’m lucky if I come up with the bare minimum required.

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