From what I have gathered, Lev Grossman’s The Magicians has gained a reputation as a non-fantasy-reader’s fantasy novel. It is a very self-conscious take on the genre: it’s a classic bildungsroman in which the protagonist, himself a fantasy fan, comes of age at a college for magicians who practice actual, real-life spells.
I can’t say how it stacks ups as a fantasy novel , but I can say that it works quite well as literary fiction, and it’s inspired me to consider taking a plunge into the harder stuff in that genre.* There’s something particularly enchanting about this idea of a portal to a parallel universe hiding in plain sight in some little corner of your everyday life.
With that in mind, readers, I’m about to let you in on a chance to make like a character in a fantasy novel and plunge into a world of wonders unimagined! You may not be aware that hiding right there at the base of Mount Washington is a portal to another land where wild and wonderful people live.
It may sound fantastical, but I have seen it with my own eyes! One day I left my home in the East End on a quest for sensible furniture in the land of IKEA. But by some twist of fate (or PennDOT, I can’t remember which), I had to divert my course, and I ended up entering not the Fort Pitt Tunnel, as I had planned, but instead a mystical portal inscribed with the mysterious name Liberty Tunnel. I somehow made it through, but interdimensional travel disoriented me, and so I steered my vessel to the right as quickly as I could. After navigating a perilous series of ever-steeper hills, I entered a time-forgotten world of trolley cars and something called a Charcuterie.
This enchanted land is known as Beechview.
I learned during my too-brief stay in Beechview that there are people there living lives parallel to mine, even people who have been known to travel this Liberty Tunnel to visit my beloved East End, perhaps on some ill-fated trip to the Zoo.
So readers, if you’re up for an adventure, your Library is sponsoring expeditions going in either direction! Book Buzz, CLP’s out-of-the-library book club series, is discussing Lev Grossman’s The Magicians at two locations on either side of the Liberty Interdimensional Zone this week.
Southern-neighborhood-dwellers, join us tonight (10/15) in the heart of the East End at Enrico’s Tazza D’Oro café in Highland Park. And fellow east-enders, please join me on my return journey to Brew on Broadway tomorrow night (10/16).*
If you haven’t read the book, don’t worry, you can come and talk about it anyway. Any and all, please join us for this fun literary social event!
*I have not had much luck getting into fantasy so far. Don’t laugh, but I’ve never even made it through Lord of the Rings.*
*Where else but on a library blog would one worry about being laughed at for not reading LOTR?
*Of course it goes without saying that anyone from any neighborhood can go to any of the events.