Once upon a time, I earned a Master's Degree in Literature and was a Professor of Literature and Composition. I had a wonderful time writing my Master's Thesis about Children's and Young Adult Literature, and I considered earning a Ph.D. so that I could continue to pursue the written word, including British, American, Latin American and other Global Literatures, Children's and Young Adult Literature, all types of genres and occasionally even poetry. But life takes you in unexpected directions, and so now I am working for a non-profit agency (you can read about that on my other blog, A Little Bit of Wonder). Although my job keeps me too busy to post as many book reviews as I would like, Recommended Reading is a place where I can continue to share my literary discoveries and knowledge as time allows.

Please note that I post reviews for books that I recommend reading, just like the blog title says. This means that I typically won't post a review for a book that I completely dislike. This isn't because I shy away from making negative comments, but rather because I don't want to waste your time or mine (I won't even bother to finish a book if it's not any good). For more on this, see the explanation of my Rating System.)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Excerpt: The Nephilim

The moon set, its path whiter than the desert sands dwindling into shadow. The stars moved in their joyous dance across the sky. The horizon was dark with that deep darkness which comes just before the dawn.

A vulture flew down, seemingly out of nowhere, stretching its naked neck, settling its dark feathers. —Vultures are underestimated. WIthout us, disease would wipe out all life. We clean up garbage, feces, dead bodies of man and beast. We are not appreciated.

No sound was heard and et the words seemed scratched upon the air.

A scarab beetle burrowed up out of the sand and blinked a the vulture. —It is true. You help keep the world clean. I appreciate you.

And it disappeared beneath the sand.

A crocodile crawled across the desert, lumbering along clumsily, far from its native waters. It was followed by the dragon/lizard, who stretched his leather wings, showing off. A dark, hooded snake slithered past them both.

A small, brown, armored creature, not much bigger than the scarab beetle, skittered along beside the snake. We are invulnerable. We have survived the fire of the volcanoes, the earthquakes that pushed the continents apart and raised the mountain ranges. We are immortal. We cover the planet.

A bat, brighter than gold, swooped low over the cockroach. You are proud, and you can survive fire and ice, but I could eat you if I had to. I hope I never have to.

And the golden bat soared high, a bright flash against the dark.

A tiny mimicry of a crocodile, with a blunt nose, a skink scrabbled along beside the crocodile and the dragon/lizard. I am small, and swift, and my flesh is not edible and causes damage to the brain. I am the way that I am. THat is how I am made.

On the skink's back, a flea tried to dig through the armored flesh. I, too, am the way that I am.

A shrill whine cut across the clear air. A mosquito droned. I, too. I, too. I will feast on your blood.

A small, slimy worm wriggled across the sand, leaving a thin trail. A slug's viscous path followed.I am not like the snail, needing a house. I am sufficient unto myself.

A red ant crawled along the dragon/lizard's wing, and held tight as it tried to shake the biting insect off. A rat, sleek and well filled, wriggled its nose and whiskers and looked at the vulture's naked neck. I, too, eat the filth off the streets. I eat flesh. I prefer living flesh, but I will take what I can get. I, too, help keep the world clean.

No sound was heard. Like negative light, the words cracked the desert night.

The twelve oddly assorted creatures began to position themselves into a circle.

The nephilim.

(Excerpt from Madeleine L'Engle's Many Waters, Chapter 5: The Nephilim.)

I am reading Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle as part of my review series on her Time Quintet, and I am not sure whether or not I like this book at all. I'm really drawn to this passage, though. What do you all think of it? Are there any regular readers of Sci-Fi/Fantasy who can comment?

My full review of Many Waters will be posted tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. +JMJ+

    It is incredibly lyrical and beautiful. Powerful, too: if I knew nothing about Many Waters and then read this excerpt, I'd run out to read it immediately!

    On the other hand, I share your negative impressions of it and must say that the book doesn't at all live up to this passage. =S


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