All right, I’m going to take you way back. Remember when magic used to be real? When you could close your eyes and create kingdoms and universes just by imagining, and the line between fantasy and reality was beautifully blurred? I recently picked up one of my all-time favorite books: Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story (translated from German by Ralph Manheim) and the child-like excitement for the imaginary world came racing back. I had just gotten done reading Joel Agee’s incredibly dense memoir In the House of My Fear (which was so interesting and well-crafted that it read like a novel, but was so consistently intense for almost 500 pages that it left me with a charley horse in my brain.) I needed something to remedy that little condition.
Here’s the thing about reading The Neverending Story with adult eyes: you begin to realize that while the action of the story takes place in the most fantastical setting you could possibly imagine (Fantastica), with characters who are made completely of stone, or completely of light, and a villain who is Nothing, the themes are exceptionally life-like. There are tales within tales of friendship and companionship; tales of greed and self-control; of sacrifice and trust; life and death. It is an odyssey, through the strange and dark corners of Fantastica, it is a journey through camaraderie and self-discovery for Bastian Balthazar Bux and Atreyu. It will make you laugh and cry when Bastian joyfully splashes around in the Fountain of the Water of Life. Your pulse will race when you meet Gmork the wolf on a mission to kill Atreyu. It will make you remember the reality of fantasy when you begin to ask yourself some of the questions posed to Atreyu and Bastian.
Bio: Adaeze Elechi is an intern at Guernica. Read her last recommendation “here”:https://www.guernicamag.com/blog/1109/staff_pick_adaeze_elechi/.