Saturday, May 31, 2003

With a wedding this weekend and lots of old friends in town, I haven't had much time to post, or even to read anything of substance. I did recently revisit some old favorites, though, which I will share with you. Most people have heard of Michael Ende's The Neverending Story, but for some reason his other works are not nearly as popular. I remember being delighted as a child to discover the odd story Momo, which I just found again at our public library, and it's as good as it was years ago. It speaks against our instant gratification "microwave society" with the homogenizing of a town by the gray men, unnerving creatures that coerce people into saving time. Of course, the more time that's saved, the less time there seems to be. Momo, a little girl with the great ability to listen so that anyone in her presence becomes more creative, more talkative, and happier, is the only one who can save the town and her friends. My halting prose, as usual, does nothing to evoke the charm of the story, but it's well worth the couple of hours spent reading it.

Thank goodness Edith Pargeter was such a prolific writer! I only wish she had written more of her historical novels, though there are quite a few of them, but her repertoire of mysteries (written under the name Ellis Peters) is impressive and utterly enjoyable. I haven't read all the modern-day ones, although I am very fond of Inspector Felse, but she certainly achieved true excellence in the Brother Cadfael series. I'd been thinking about the last one, The Holy Thief, for reasons I can't now remember, so I picked it up the last time I was at the library, and happily immersed myself in monastic life at the Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in medieval Shrewsbury. While the mystery is by no means unpredictable, it is also the least important part of the story. Peters' language is so beautiful, and her characters so rich and larger-than-life, that they usurp the plot wonderfully. This is also an interesting story because it deals with the divinity of saints, a belief I have never espoused, but which is tenderly played out with the unassailable faith of those it affects. Don't read this one first, though, as it is the last in the series and relies heavily on the plot of the first, A Morbid Taste for Bones (with which I intend to familiarize myself soon).

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