Nights at the Circus

Have you ever gotten drunk from a story? You read a book or watched a movie or listened to someone tell you a tale, and it poured itself into you until you got giddy and wanted to laugh and cry out of the sheer joy the story gave you?

I finished the audiobook of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern this evening. I’m still drunk from the story. I might be hungover tomorrow (although I’m still reading the paperback because, yes, I decided to start rereading it before I’d even finished it), but tonight, I’m enjoying this drunken state.

I love The Night Circus so very, very much. I’m head over heels in love with it. It’s one of the greatest novels I’ve ever read. There are a lot of novels I love, but The Night Circus joins the select group of books (along with Something Wicked This Way Comes, Winter’s Tale, and The Manual of Detection) that make me deliriously happy (and yet sad when they end, because I don’t want the story to be over, I don’t want the characters to leave me) because they seem to have been pulled straight out of my dreams.

The Night Circus touches on so many things that are near and dear to me: love, sacrifice, time, games, magic (both real and stage illusions), dreams and imagination, mystery and wonder, the interplay between performer and audience, the nature of stories…all wrapped up in a delightful, enchanting circus that transcends time and space (it might even transcend the covers of the book). The characters are endearing, the prose is delicious, and it even has multi-layered references to my favorite Shakespeare play, The Tempest. As I went through the last chapter, tears of joy and sorrow rolled down my cheeks. The Night Circus is something very, very special indeed.

For my last trick, I’m going to disappear into visions of paper birds and magical clocks and baroque cauldrons of snow-white fire. We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and this dream will never end.

Share With Me

What’s exciting you right now? What books, comics, games, movies, TV series, music, plays, art movements, people, places, things are thrilling and delighting you these days? If you’re excited about stuff, please share it with me (and others) in the comments. Let us all know what you’ve been reading, watching, playing, experiencing that is getting you all excited.

Here, I’ll go first. I’m currently reading (and listening to the audiobook of) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I am madly in love with this book, savoring every word and sentence and paragraph. I’m also reading DC Comics’ Earth 2 and really enjoying the hell out of it. The current season of Castle is, I think, the best yet, and the new season of Grimm is really building into a great show. Also, the new crowdfunded album by Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra, Theatre is Evil, is so good, I started crying tears of joy the first time I listened to it.

Now it’s your turn. Share your excitement with me!

On the Case

I learned today that Donald J. Sobol, author of the Encylopedia Brown mysteries, passed away on July 11.

The Encyclopedia Brown stories were a huge influence on me as a kid. I’m pretty sure I made a sign for my own detective agency much like Encyclopedia did. The books certainly encouraged me to continue being bookish and hungry for information of all kinds. (I always hoped some tough girl would be my friend and defend me from bullies, like Sally Kimball defended Encyclopedia.) And I’ve got a sneaking suspicion Encyclopedia Brown is one of the subconscious reasons I became a librarian.

Can you imagine an Encyclopedia Brown story written by Jorge Luis Borges? How sad that Borges is also dead. Wait, what about Umberto Eco? Somebody get Eco to write an Encyclopedia Brown story RIGHT THE HELL NOW!

Rest in peace, Mr. Sobol. Thank you for turning me and countless other kids on to the joys of reading, learning and retaining vast amounts of random information in our heads.

For the solution to this blog post, turn to the end of this website.

War, What is It Good For?

This line spoken by Faramir in The Two Towers goes a long way towards expressing my view on soldiers and warfare (and the glorification of both):

…I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend…

Wanna Live Underground in the Third Age

Just before the epic move, I decided I needed some comfort reading to balance the stress in my life, so I started rereading The Hobbit. Besides superhero comics and Saturday morning cartoons (especially Scooby-Doo), the Rankin-Bass animated adaptation of The Hobbit was one of the first things to really catch my imagination. I read the book and filled my head with fantasies of maps, runes, moon-writing, elves, dwarves, goblins, hobbits, wizards, spiders and dragons.

So I started rereading The Hobbit. Then I heard about the forthcoming tabletop RPG The One Ring, a new Middle-earth game set right after The Hobbit. The more I found out about it, the more excited I got. I broke down and bought it (the PDF came immediately, but the physical game should arrive some time this month), more jazzed about a role-playing game than I’ve been in a long time. To celebrate and help me get even more into a Middle-earth mindset, I finally started reading and listening to an audiobook of The Silmarillion.

I’ve never read The Silmarillion before, but I’ve quickly come to LOVE IT SO VERY VERY MUCH!  I wish I’d read it when I was a kid. I think I would have had trouble with some of the language and the more boring bits, but it’s got gods, elves, dwarves, orcs, giant dogs and wolves, giant spiders, werewolves, vampires, weird magic and epic quests! My inner child is kind of bouncing up and down in his seat just writing that.

(Right now, I’m imagining Jack Kirby had done a comic book adaptation of The Silmarillion. It would have been one of the BEST! THINGS! EVER!)

With all this Middle-earth stuff going into my eyeballs and being absorbed into my brain, I have the major themes of Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings score playing over and over in my head, along with some of the songs from Rankin-Bass’ The Hobbit. Strangely, the Trevor Jones/David Bowie music from Labyrinth has also started playing in my head a lot, mixing with Howard Shore’s score. (Yes, I do realize that Bowie’s songs from Labyrinth are extremely silly and so far down the list of Good Bowie Songs, it’s not even funny. But I adore the movie, and the songs are part of that adoration.) I don’t really understand why Labyrinth is mashing up with Lord of the Rings in my head, but it is, in a fun and powerful way.

The really goofy thing? This entire blog post was written just to provide the context for me to say that Labyrinth and Lord of the Rings has gotten all mixed up in my mind. I was going to tweet it, but I felt that without the proper context, it was just kind of lame. So you all get a blog post instead. Hooray!

Now write me some comments worthy of Mordor!