Saturday, July 12, 2003

It isn't often that I really miss being in school, and even when I do it's more for the social part than for the classes. The community of a college is such a strange and wonderful thing, where spending time with someone doesn't even require a phone call. I always loved the casualness of strolling over to someone's dorm room to hang out, or continuing a conversation after class, or even sitting in companionable silence over another wretched cafeteria lunch; whereas, in the strangeness of this in-between life I lead now, too much planning is required for time with friends, especially if more than one is involved. It's difficult to make friends and get to know people without the commonality of shared classes or dorm life, which frustrates me into thinking that a commune might not be such a bad thing.

Re-reading Pamela Dean's Tam Lin brought all these feelings to the surface (particularly because my first experience with the book was when Odious read it aloud to me during our freshman year in college), but I was surprised to find myself also missing classes and study. I think this was partly because St. John's was so lacking in the fields that particularly interest me; namely, literature and the English language. Janet, the main character in Tam Lin, is an English major, and many of her friends are studying Classics, and in reading of their gallops through poetry and strolls through Shakespeare, I realized how much I've missed out on and how much there is to learn. Unfortunately autodidactic study is difficult and often one-dimensional, but it will have to do until such time that I have money and inclination to return to school.

But this post is not all about the fact that I will be twenty-five in a few weeks and am wondering what I'm doing with my life--I'm also recommending a book! As always, Pamela Dean defies description, but in Tam Lin she has recreated the wonder and exasperation of college life, interspersed with moments of oddness that build up into what is literally a fairy-tale ending. The characters are strange and lovely and just the sort of people you wish you'd known at college, and utterly real and alive in a way only Pamela Dean can manage.

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