The 13 Clocks by James Thurber:
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to do a photo shoot at the Thurber House here in Columbus, Ohio. This is the home where writer and illustrator James Thurber once lived (more about it here). As soon as I got home, I immediately got online to check out two things: first, to see if any historical homes were for sale in our area (seriously, I just fell in love with the house and all its nooks and crannies). And secondly, I logged on to my local library's website to check out books by James Thurber.
Published in 1950, The 13 Clocks is a wonderfully inventive tale, a sort of dark-fairy-tale I suppose. There is a princess locked up in a castle; there is a threatening villain; there is our hero, a prince in disguise. But even though the premise has been done before, what makes it inventive is Thurber's wit and confidence in his words. Seemingly out of nowhere, you'll get a sentence like this: "the brambles and the thorns grew thick and thicker in a ticking thicket of bickering crickets." It's like the equivalent of characters bursting into song in a musical.
Here's another good example of Thurber's fine writing: "her voice was faraway music, and her eyes were candles burning on a tranquil night." Even Thurber's foreword is endearing: "Miss Williams, who is four, insisted on oleanders in the Princess's hair instead of freesias, and there were several grueling conferences about this, from which I barely emerged the winner."
My biggest take-away from this book is that it reminds me just how much an author infuses (is that the right word?) the work with themselves. To enjoy a good book is almost like enjoying time spent with a good friend - the work is merely an extension of the person who created it. Reading one of Thurber's stories, spending time in his childhood home, it all helped me figure out who James Thurber was. I like him very much and look forward to the next adventure!