Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lucy and Lenae's Awesome Reading Adventure (Where Sarah Tags Along Jauntily)

I have a confession to make: I've never read The Chronicles of Narnia.  And since seeing the well-done movies, I really don't have a pressing desire to do so.  (Please don't hate me, Lenae...)  So when Lucy and Lenae announced that they were going to begin the grand adventure of reading C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy together, I found myself wanting to participate purely for redeeming reasons.  Also for party-crashing reasons.  Also for entertainment reasons.

In short: I have my reasons. 

And today begins the first installment of their read-along fun!  (Read more about the plan hereAlso here.)

The official 'assignment' is to blog about the first three chapters, and I'll do that -- but not because I want to.  What I want to do is blog about chapter 7 or 8 or 9 or 11...you get my drift?  Yes, I'm a reader-aheader.  In my defense, I didn't know ahead of time how far I was supposed to read.  Also, I love to read.  Also, I can't help it if I read fast.

In short: I'll blog about the first three chapters of Out of the Silent Planet now.


You know that feeling you get when you realize that you're surrounded by incredibly smart people and they think you understand what they're saying, but you're really lagging so far behind that you're only beginning to grasp the things they said a few conversations ago, yet they plow forward intelligently, hopefully ignorant of your stupor?

That's kind of how I felt for the first few pages of Out of the Silent Planet.  Don't be discouraged -- there's nothing difficult about this book.  It's just that it's written so fully and brilliantly (and old-fashionedly) that my mind had to shed some lazy pounds before it could keep up.  When I begin an old Austen or Bronte-type novel, I have to undergo the same transformation; there's a quick curve to summit before my modern mind can proceed.  It only took a few pages though, and then --

Wow.  What I love the most about picking up a new book is being surprised at its beauty.  Like, picking up a science fiction book, I wasn't fully prepared to be awed by the way the words fit together, you know what I mean?  But C.S. Lewis -- I guess he's famous for a reason.  Listen to this:

If he had chosen to look back, which he did not, he could have seen the spire of Much Nadderby, and, seeing it, might have uttered a malediction on the inhospitable little hotel which, though obviously empty, had refused him a bed.
This particular quote -- as well as the whole book so far, really -- is not all flowery or full of emotional wording, but I immediately get a sense of frustration and politely disguised anger.  It (and the paragraph in which it's couched) tells me about the main character (Ransom) and how he's feeling on this dark night, without saying: Ransom was highly irritated after being turned away from the single hotel in the area.  But none of that is what draws me to Lewis's sentence: I just think such a complex series of adjoining thoughts is fun to read.  (Look at all those completely legal commas!)

And the cool part is, from what I've seen, the book is full of such gems.  Here's another favorite:
Whatever the process of thought may have been, he found that the mental picture of himself calling at The Rise had assumed all the solidity of a thing determined upon. 
All the solidity of a thing determined upon.  That there's a mighty good phrase, ain't so?  Plus it makes me think of Ransom as a slightly impulsive fellow, and I know that will make for a good character trait, especially when it's combined with his other qualities -- intelligent, unassuming, rumpled, etc. 

I'll let Lucy and Lenae regale you with more in-depth plot outlines thus far, but here's what I know, in a pinch:

Ransom, a mere pedestrian wanderer, was abducted by some sketchy dudes (one named Devine which makes me think of de-vein, as in, peeling that nasty string from the back of a shrimp) of whom we know only a little bit, and that little bit isn't good.  These sneaky characters drugged him and conked him over the head before depositing him into a space ship of all things, and are headed to....we don't yet know where.  But at the close of Chapter 3, poor, naked Ransom (well, it's HOT in the space ship, you see?) is exclaiming about the size of the moon as seen through the ship's window. 

Only it's not the moon.  It's the earth.  Something which, at the point of this book's conception and publishing, has never before been seen from an extra-terrestrial perspective.  Of course Ransom wouldn't know the earth when he saw it.

Which makes me wonder:

What completely unknown things will Ransom (and therefore, the reader) witness when he reaches his unwitting destination?

Stay tuned....

(And head to Lucy's to link up your own thoughts if you want to read along!)


  1. Sarah, I am so very glad you're tagging along! Although... seriously: you're such a dear friend, I'd hardly call it tagging along. You're just HERE, know what I'm sayin'?

    Carrying on. You haven't ready the Chronicles of Narnia? My heart! Don't let the movies torch any inspiration you might have had. They're good, but DIM compared to the books. Read 'em once. For Lenae :)

    Lastly, I love your perspective on these first few chapters, how much your appreciate Lewis' writing and that it's descriptive without being inflated. So glad you're here for the party! :D

  2. Lenae's right, you aren't tagging along, you're just regular old along!

    And I love this! You're so right about that learning curve while you're 'getting into' a book like this. You can almost feel your brain shifting around!

    I have that 'solidity of a thing determined upon' bit underlined in MY book, too! And then a bit later, when he tossed his pack over the gate and THEN realized that he was fully committed to going in, it makes a very clear picture of him being impulsive, right?

    You know, my mother started reading the Chronicles of Narnia to me when I was, oh... about Lauren's age. I didn't hate it...just sayin'!

    (I'll love you even if you NEVER read the Narnia books, which is saying A LOT!)

  3. Oh how I love the chronicles of narnia. I went to a catholic high school and took a course on the series as my senior elective. I've never heard of these books but I'm putting them on my list!

  4. You're making me want to read these books -- and Lewis, yes, surely famous for a reason! :)

  5. OH, I love CS Lewis. His books are amazing!! Hope you love them as much as I do.

  6. I tried to read the space trilogy when I was much younger, since I absolutely adored the Chronicles of Narnia, but it proved to be a little too much for my young brain! I plowed through them, but didn't like them very much or get much out of them. Perhaps if I read them now I would enjoy them more than I did back in my teen aged years!


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?