25 April 2013

3rdragon: (firebird)
At church on Sunday, I sat down next to my father as the prelude started. He wrote something on the corner of his bulletin, then showed it to me:

E.L. Konigsburg died
Age 83

That may not mean anything to you. I've come to realize that, for as prolific a writer as she was, most people don't know her name. But if I ask, "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler? Silent to the Bone? A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver?" Sometimes their faces light up and they say, "Oh, the one about the kids who go live in the art museum? Yeah, I read that when I was a kid!"

She was never what I considered one of my favorite authors. Her work was too varied, to wide-ranging. I didn't even like Journey to an 800 Number. But I probably read it 15 years ago, and yet found myself thinking of it just the other week, going, Hm, I should see if I like it better, now that I'm an adult.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was one of the staples of my childhood. The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place held its own on my 1GB iPod Shuffle for years, despite the 3-minute tracks, because it even on the hundredth listen, it was still fresh and interesting, and I could slip into the story at any point. I still remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I read Silent to the Bone, because it stuck with me -- enough so that I read it again in college, because my memories of it were haunting.

And that's what many of her books were, for me. Books that stuck with me, that made me think, even when I didn't really think I liked them on the first read. I made an E.L. Konigsburg reference on Saturday. Neither of my coworkers got it, but that was okay; I don't make E.L. Konigsburg references because other people will recognize them, but because she precisely, concisely, captured something about the nature of the world, and I cannot say it better.

There may have been a time when The View From Saturday was my favorite book. Maybe not. I don't remember what else I was reading at the time, and realistic fiction has often had a more uphill battle than genre fiction, in the arena of my enjoyment. Either way, her writing has influenced me, and I did not wish her to pass without salute or acknowledgement.

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