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Sunday, December 29, 1996

Testimony: The Magical Mystery Muse

by John Hammink, North Karelia, Finland (Dec. 29, 1996)
(Originally published at the compleatbellairs.com)

It was one of those long, hot, boring summers after elementary school. Having just refused another neighborhood baseball game, the book, lying torn and dusty in a cool corner of the basement, caught my eye. Crumbling pages, tattered, a little moldy, like Uncle Jonathan's copies of the John L. Stoddard lectures. I picked up the book and began perusing Edward Gorey's creepy cover art. "...the year was 1948..." I found myself suddenly plunged into a tale of a boy like myself: traveling to a new town to live with an uncle whom he'd never met, the boy himself shy, geeky and unable to keep new friends. The poker game in the front parlor with Mrs. Zimmerman had me as full of anticipation just after I walked in the front door of that humongous house. I was as anxious to explore the rest of the novel as Lewis was to explore the mansion. I related to the downsides of Lewis's life as well---the boredom with most of his peers, rejection by the hooting, hollering athletic boys, Tarby and his associated foolishness and popularity. (And who can forget the scene where Lewis goes to Tarby's nuclear-family zoo of a house!)