Tuesday Author Discussion: Madeline L’Engle

Unlike with so many of the authors I love, I can point to exactly what makes me return again and again to Madeline L’Engle. Down to the paragraph.

Now, I’m not going to transcribe said paragraph. But it’s the one in A Wind in the Door when the cherubim, Proginoskes, is first described. Mistaken by Charles Wallace as a flock of dragons, Proginoskes (or Progo as he is quickly nicknamed), is a large collection of always fluttering wings and constantly blinking eyes.

I was fascinated by Progo, as a creature, and the image of him, of the feathers, shooting fire, and always watchful eyes, has remained with me since the first moment he entered my imagination. I’ve gone through phases where I don’t think about L’Engle’s work, or had to reread or find a synopsis so that I could recall what the books are even about in any detail. But Progo stays. A flock of birds reminds me of him, or sometimes a fake eyeball. They remind me of his sense of humor, of his insistence on being called a cherubim instead of a cherub, because he isn’t quite singular.

I want to create things like Progo: things that never fade, even when all the other words of my story do. A phrase, an image, anything that will glue itself into the reader’s imagination and never let go.

In addition to being the likely cause of my belief that Love in all its forms will save the day, L’Engle seared an indelible image into my brain. With only the power of her words.

5 thoughts on “Tuesday Author Discussion: Madeline L’Engle

  1. How do you square a “love will save the day” squishy center with your otherwise cynical exterior?

  2. Hah. Uh, by saying that Love is a story we tell ourselves, and so within that narrative is it ultimate.

    Love only really exists in stories. As an entity. We feel this emotion, and when we name it, it becomes part of the narrative. We have expectations concerning it and make shit up about it. When you name the feeling, you create the story around it. With all the fun baggage.

    How’s that for cynical?

  3. The bastard responsible for a lot of shlocky romances. 😉

    Ok, it’s the cause of the feelings… our imaginations create the concept of Love to make us forget that we’re ruled by hormones. Because we prefer stories to cold, hard fact. Norepinephrine = fact. Love = story.

    (Stories can be truth, too.)

  4. Plus, in stories, people are always dying in order to prove the depths of their love.

    (“I am a namer. If I care more about naming than about anything else . . .” etc.)

    It’s not cynical in and of itself, but it’s definitely a downer.

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