|The Annotated version - now that's one for the wish list!|
Milo meets the watchdog and tells him he's "just killing time".
He's lucky that the watchdog didn't chase him down the road!
I've known about "The Phantom Tolbooth" by Norton Juster "forever", but I never read it until recently, because I didn't like the cover picture, or the illustrations. Then, last year, I sent a postcard to my Aunt with the cover illustration on it (at random - it was the next one in the box of Puffin Book postcards that I had at the time) and she replied saying that it had been a favourite of my grandmother's. Which I hadn't known.
I downloaded it to my Kindle and started reading. That was last Summer, and I got most of the way through until for some reason I got distracted and so didn't finish it. So, today, I've started from the beginning again. Risky, though, because it is SO full of dazzling wordplay that I'm now going to be quoting from it forever.
How about this from a couple of pages earlier: Milo wasn't paying attention and thinking about where he was going, and took a wrong turning. The road began winding up hill, and everything became greyer and greyer, and his little car went slower and slower until it just stopped.
"I wonder where I am," said Milo in a very worried tone.
"You're...in...the...Dol...drums," wailed a voice that sounded far away.
The voice turns out to belong to a Lethergarian, who recites their daily schedule of procrastination, lingering, loitering, napping, dilly-dallying. Milo is saved from joining them by the sudden arrival of the watchdog.
"What are you doing here?" growled the watchdog.
"Just killing time," replied Milo apologetically.
This reply infuriates the watchdog. It turns out that the only way to escape the Doldrums is to start thinking.
Milo began to think as hard as he could. He thought of birds that swim and fish that fly. He thought of yesterday's lunch and tomorrow's dinner... and as he thought, the wheels of his car began to turn.
I'm going to have to stop typing out this book sooner rather than later! I reading this book is a bit like reading poetry; it throws up lots of avenues to explore along the way and I have to keep stopping and finding time and space to think about what I have just read and pursue the ideas to the end.
I've several books on the go at the moment which are like this: "Cultural Amnesia" by Clive James,
"Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places" by Eugene Petersen and now this one. Somehow, they don't fit the category of "reading as a leisure activity"! It's all such brain-bending stuff.