Wednesday, September 30, 2009

 

A Trip to the Stars

Do you remember when you fell in love with reading as a child? How you loved living in your imagination with characters in a book for company? How much fun it was to travel in time and to feel the connection between your inner and outer life? This gets harder as we become adults. Novels--fiction-become serious business. Literature. They are supposed to "comment" on something because we are now supposed to be about something other than the imagination. But the best novels-at least for me-still touch the remaining part of my brain that is twelve, and caught up in Narnia or A Wrinkle in Time or the Susan Cooper books, while understanding that I am now an Adult. If this is you too, and you haven't read Nicholas Christopher's books, please get started.

I've never met Nicholas Christopher, but I am a tremendous fan. There are lots of books out this fall by famous writers, but that shouldn't stop you from exploring older books that deserve attention. One of my favorites is A Trip to the Stars. It's beautifully written, for a start. But it also has the ability to simply sweep you up in its story, characters and imagination. All of Christopher's books that I have read accomplish this. Why he isn't better known, I don't know, but the universe isn't always just.

The novel opens with a kidnapping in the New York Planetarium. A family is torn apart. Hearts are broken. Lovers separated. And then all the parties try to find each other, and their struggles are mirrored in the stars, in Zuni legends, in the lush beaches of Hawaii, in wars, in casinos and in a cast of unforgettable and eccentric characters.

I love novels like this. Actually, I have to be careful about saying things "like this"--there are few novels "like this." I wish there were more novels like A Trip to the Stars. So, let me be a bit clearer. I love novels that suck me in and send me on an adventure. I love novels full of lushness and character and imagination that are also well written, and are not self-indulgent. Few writers can accomplish all of the above. Christopher does.

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