In sixth grade, the kids in Gifted and Talented went to Sandy Hook every week to look at sea life.

I was not in G&T.  “Didn’t you take the test?” people asked.

I hadn’t.  It seemed my window of opportunity to be either gifted or talented was gone forever.

Our teacher usually let the handful of us left behind do whatever we wanted, which sometimes meant free reading. One week, I grabbed from the dusty bookcase, The Moon By Night, by Madeleine L’Engle.

Till then I had only read Paula Danziger and Judy Blume. While I loved their books, the characters always seemed much savvier and outgoing than I could ever be.  Now in Moon By Night, I met Vicky Austin, shy, awkward, and spacey – two teachers had called home about my daydreaming (maybe that’s how I missed the test?) – just like me.

After that, I devoured everything by L’Engle. Meet the Austins. A Wrinkle in Time. A Wind in the Door.  One of my favorite memories is a winter Friday night, snuggling in bed with the comfort of no school the next day and A Swiftly Tilting Planet, the third in the Wrinkle in Time series. I thrilled over the story of Mad Dog Branzillo. Would he turn out good or bad? Would there be war or peace?

I didn’t know I was reading about chaos theory. A butterfly beating its wings in one universe could cause an earthquake in another. Charles Wallace had to give Prince Madoc the rune (by way of Gaudior, a time-traveling unicorn) to prevent the Might-Have-Been – or possible reality – of fighting between brothers, which would eventually lead to nuclear holocaust.

I wrote similar stories in Mrs. Williams’ seventh grade composition class.  The survival of the universe depended on the bravery of one girl! Writing was easy, unlike algebra.  I stayed up late scribbling about outer space, time travel, and unicorns.  I decided then, like Vicky in A Ring of Endless Light, that I wanted to be a writer.

* * *

I’ve seen L’Engle once in person. I was going to college in New York (partly because L’Engle’s characters did) and L’Engle guest lectured for one of our religious studies classes. We never-took-a-religion-class, Vicky Austin groupies packed the room to its gills.

L’Engle perched on a desk at the front of the room in long flowy clothes, her hair in its familiar gray crop.  Someone asked something about reincarnation. L’Engle smiled.

“I’ve always wanted to be reincarnated as a dolphin,” she said.

We squirmed with excitement. Dolphins! Like the ones Vicky communicates with in A Ring of Endless Light! Someone else asked about Vicky and her love interest Adam.

“What’s that?” L’Engle asked.  “Adam and Eve?”

“Adam and Vicky,” the girl repeated. “Do you think they’ll get married?”

L’Engle’s smile disappeared. “Oh, I don’t know,” she said.

She was here to talk about theology, not some kids’ book, even if it was her own. But we all wanted to know: would Vicky and Adam end up together? Would she live happily ever after? Would we?

* * *

I met my husband Joe senior year. We were at some party downtown, and when I first saw him, thought he was someone I knew. Later, I wasn’t surprised when he asked me to dance.

It was easy at first. We fell in love; he was my boyfriend. He’d drop by my dorm with little gifts: chocolate, a stuffed bear, kiwis. He admired my wish to be a writer, to already know what I wanted.

Then it was difficult. His parents preferred a Korean girl. My mother just didn’t like him. He had trouble getting into law school. I saw his moods, the beginning of his anger.

But it was fate. Joe was the one; this was how it was supposed to be.

* * *

To the consternation of my parents, I still wanted to be a writer. After a short stint in publishing, I applied to MFA programs. The one in Boston gave me a free ride.

My dreams were coming true. Not only was I going to writing school, I was going for free, and in the city where Joe was in law school.

Joe wasn’t as excited. Law school was a lot of work, he said. He might not have much time for me. I turned to my classmates. But I didn’t fit in. Woefully underread in comparison – Tolstoy who? – I fell behind in conversations in bars.

“What are you all talking about?” I asked one of the guys, a beautiful and brilliant poet.

He regarded me through his thick fringe of lashes. “Babel,” he said. “Isaak Babel.”

“I know who Isaak Babel is,” I said, or at least I had heard of him. But my classmate had already turned away.

During class I was mostly silent. I still wrote by instinct, imitating the voices of my favorite authors. The piece that got me a scholarship was an Asian American tough girl version of Holden Caulfield. But I couldn’t articulate my thoughts about other people’s work. I suspected the head of the department regretted giving me the scholarship.

I’d escape into Barnes & Noble. When I wasn’t writing in the cafe, getting fat on mochas and lemon squares, I was hiding in the children’s section, reading The Giver and other YA novels. I bought Troubling a Star, the fourth in the Vicky Austin series.

“Why do you want to read that?” Joe asked.

“She’s one of my favorite authors,” I said.

He didn’t answer, derisively eying the YA sign.

I was disappointed by the book. Vicky and Adam are both in it, but rarely together. I didn’t care about Antarctica or icebergs. I wanted Vicky and Adam to frolic with dolphins again, to carefully fall in love, to save each other from the stench of death.

* * *

By May, Joe and I had broken up. The pressure from his parents to date Korean women had grown to be too much. At first, we had a hard time staying apart, but after he graduated and moved back to New York, it was easier. Then he suddenly started asking about getting back together.

I was nearly over him by then. I had a wicked crush on a co-worker I had only talked to on the phone. David had a great voice, deep and sonorous. When we weren’t talking about work, we were flirting. Having no idea what he looked like, I conjured up the ideal guy: tall, lanky, and dark-haired. Vicky’s Adam in the flesh.

The summer I finally met David was the same one Joe proposed. David had finally come to Boston, and when he walked into the office, I was sorely disappointed. He was neither tall nor lanky. He was barrel-chested gone to chunky, pale and balding.

That August, when Joe asked me to marry him, I said yes.

* * *

I continued to write. While weekends were taken up with caring for Joe’s Parkinson’s-stricken mother, I managed to work on stories and novels at my “dumbhead secretary” job (as one of my co-workers called it).  I looked for an agent and entered contests.  While I never won, a magazine published two of my stories.

Still, Joe wasn’t satisfied. “What are they paying you?” he asked.

Nothing, I said, like most literary magazines.

“Your job has no upward mobility,” he told me. “It’s not a career.”

“What about my writing?”  Then I said what I had been suspecting: “You wish I’d give it up.”

He didn’t answer.

Without my writing, what was I? Someone who cared for a sick mother-in-law, who walked on eggshells because of her husband’s temper. Without my writing, I’d be nothing.

* * *

Of her marriage L’Engle said, “In forty years, we had something like four perfect minutes.”

This is shocking to me. The families in her books seem so perfect. Mr. and Mrs. Austin at most playfully bicker. The Murrys literally go to the ends of the earth to save each other. Love always wins in the end.

L’Engle’s husband was apparently an alcoholic who had had multiple affairs over the years. Her children supposedly hated her books and their mother’s depictions of them. Her only son, Bion, upon him Charles Wallace is based, died at 47 from complications of long-term alcoholism.  She never wrote about any of it.

After A Swiftly Tilting Planet was published in 1978, Charles Wallace disappeared from L’Engle’s books. In A House Like a Lotus (1984), it’s mentioned that he’s “off somewhere on some kind of secret mission.” L’Engle herself has said she doesn’t know where Charles Wallace has gone.

* * *

Four years into our marriage, Joe had an affair. Not only that: the woman was pregnant.

He begged my forgiveness but wanted to raise the child.  I couldn’t forgive him but couldn’t leave either. For months, I vacillated. Stay and be reminded every day of what he had done; leave, and be alone.

I took a writing class, but couldn’t write about what was happening. I wrote about the time I spent in China, my family, a hellish cruise vacation. But where was I? everyone kept asking. Where was I in my essays?

Finally, a year after Joe’s affair, I decided to leave.

* * *

That summer I began writing about Joe and what happened. I wrote about his mother, her illness, and caring for her. I wrote about Joe’s rages, the devastation upon learning of his infidelity, the weekend his child was born. I described how I fell apart, how I tried to hurt myself to bring him home, and how even that hadn’t been enough to keep him.

Unlike L’Engle, I had to write about it all to be rid of it. But also unlike L’Engle, I was no longer in the marriage. I had no children. While married, I had convinced myself that everything was fine, or would be very soon. Once we had more money, once Joe had a better job, once his mother had a special operation – better was always just on the horizon.

* * *

In 2007, L’Engle died in a nursing home. She was 88 years old.

We’d never know if Vicky and Adam would get married, or if Charles Wallace would return from his secret mission. We’d never know about any other Might-Have-Beens.

What would have happened if I hadn’t picked up The Moon By Night? If I were at Sandy Hook looking at horse shoe crabs instead? Would I have decided in Mrs. Williams’ composition class that I wanted to be a writer? Would I have gone to college in New York? Would I have met Joe?

I’ve imagined my own Might-Have-Beens. If I hadn’t said yes when Joe asked me to dance, if he had lost my number, if I hadn’t gone to the club that night.

But I wasn’t sure I’d have gone back and undone it. I knew more now because of it. I knew who I wanted to be with and what I deserved, the difference between compromise and losing myself. Undoing my marriage would have undone all that as well.

Did L’Engle ever wonder if she shouldn’t have written her books? Might her children have felt differently about her? Perhaps she simply couldn’t help it. She was a writer; telling stories was what she did. Without it, she’d be nothing.

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A long-time New Yorker, ANGELA TUNG is a writer in San Francisco. Her work has appeared in CNN Living, The Frisky, Dark Sky Magazine, Matador Life, The New York Press and elsewhere. Her Young Adult novel, Song of the Stranger, was published by Roxbury Park Books.

Her latest book, Black Fish: Memoir of a Bad Luck Girl, chronicles the failed marriage between a Chinese woman and Korean man, both American-born but still bound by old world traditions. Black Fish was short-listed for Graywolf Press' 2010 Nonfiction Prize.

In addition, she's a writer/editor at Wordnik.com, an online word source, and has an MA in Creative Writing from Boston University. Visit her at angelatung.com.

51 responses to “Wrinkles in Time”

  1. Jessica Blau says:

    THis is wonderful Angela! I’m so curious about his affair, the baby, if he’s still with her, and how you held yourself together through all that.

    The thing about life is that no matter how messy, or crazy, or cruel, or fucked up it gets, it always makes for great writing. So in way, we can always be thankful for our loony pasts, once they’re past. I’m sure all that stuff you went through–taking care of your mother-in-law while your husband was hooking up with someone who was not taking care of his mother (SHAME on him!)–has made for some truly fabulous writing.

    • angela says:

      thanks jessica! if my internet stalking is correct, he is indeed still with her, and i think they’re married. weird! it was tough getting through it all, but i’m in a much better place now.

      yes, i agree that even the fucked up parts of life, or perhaps mostly the fucked up parts of life, are fodder for great material.

      • Jessica Blau says:

        Don’t worry, they’re even more miserable than you two were when you were together. My experience is that people who have affairs once, have them again. It’s like killing someone. Once you’ve committed the act one time, it doesn’t change you to do it again. Also, kids complicate everything and use up a lot of the emotional energy. You can wish them well and send them all good thoughts and energy, but still: he’s probably cheating again, and she probably resents him for leaving her with the kid just like he left you with his mother.

  2. Wow. This is great. There’s so much in here.

    I loved L’Engle. I discovered the Wrinkle in Time series just after The Hardy Boys and just before Needful Things, so I hadn’t yet realized I was a writer but was already very much a reader. I think that’s why she was formative for me; I barely remember those books (mainly just the tesseract, and the mitochondria, and a few other details like bouncing balls), but if not for her, my novels might be straight up adventure-slash-supernatural, all King and Dixon. L’Engle always seemed to be trying to solve greater mysteries–those of love and the heart and family.

    I remember thinking A Swiftly Tilting Planet was a lot like Quantum Leap, though I no longer remember why.

    Your questions–whether Vicky and Adam marry, whether Charles Wallace returns–are partly why fan fiction exists, even so far back as the Aenid and the New Testament. There’s something to be said for the idea that our stories are no longer our own upon telling them; stories belong to our culture and all who read them. Corporations don’t like the idea, certainly, but the idea of owning a story or a character or an plot seems about as silly as the idea of owning land.

    I hope writing about it and telling your story has helped you find relief.

    • angela says:

      yes! Swiftly Tilting Planet was indeed like Quantum Leap. Charles Wallace had to “leap” into different people’s bodies to help them make decisions that would lead to the Might-Have-Been of peace and not war. But unlike Scott Bakula, he didn’t take over the bodies, just sort of very subtly influenced them.

      fan fiction is an interesting idea, but i don’t know if i’d be able to accept someone else’s take on these characters’ futures. sacrilege! but maybe at the same time, i don’t want to know how things will turn out, that no matter what i’ll be disappointed.

      maybe l’engle felt the same way.

  3. Don Mitchell says:

    Angela, I liked this very much. It’s brave and honest, and parts of it really resonated with me.

    I hope you find a publisher soon. I’d really like to read that novel, multicultural guy that I am. It sounds fascinating.

    • angela says:

      thanks so much, don!

      i’ve tried writing that asian american tough girl novel several times over the last 10 years or more. i rewrote it so many times i got totally sick of it, and on top of that lost the character’s voice.

      someday i’ll tackle it again.

  4. Zara Potts says:

    “Better was always just on the horizon”
    Yes. That’s why we stay.

    Joan Didion said it best when she said “we tell ourselves stories in order to live.” We tell ourselves stories in order to find meaning in bad marriages, because the alternative – that maybe we made a mistake- is sometimes too awful to bear.

    Lovely peice, Angela. I like the way you have woven all these elements together like a particularly fine piece of knitting. Bravo.

    • angela says:

      i love that quote from joan didion. “the year of magical thinking” was such a big inspiration for me as i wrote about my marriage and the aftermath of my ex’s affair.

  5. Carl D'Agostino says:

    From about 11 to 14 I read every Landmark Book(American History), all Ernie Pyle, every single Sherlock Holmes tale, and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 10 book John Carter of Mars series. And World Book Ency., probably 80%. Finished 34 years high school history teacher in 2006. Except for 10% possible college bound, the rest had probably never read just one entire book from cover to cover. They’ll never know what they missed. Oh, I mean so much more than themes, plots, and characters. I mean the travels through the mind that books stimulate in our imaginations. A whole generation whose idea of culture are episodes of Jerry Springer.

    • angela says:

      i can’t imagine never having read a book cover to cover. i mean, even brain candy! who can resist the likes of VC Andrews and her Flowers in the Attic series; Choose Your Own Adventure books; and now, Harry Potter, which I started reading only this year and am now totally obsessed with.

  6. Marni Grossman says:

    Oh, Angela. What a shithead. You are, of course, a great writer. And anyone worth his salt would have understood that.

    I think it’s awesome that you went to school in NYC partially because of a book. I wanted to go to Vassar, in part, because the titular character in “The Heidi Chronicles” by Wendy Wasserstein did.

    • angela says:

      i think it was Adam Eddington, Vicky’s love interest, who went to Columbia, and for years that just stuck in my head: Columbia, Columbia. plus L’Engle herself was the librarian at a private school right next to campus. i had daydreams about going over there and having long talks with her over tuna fish sandwiches, like when one of the weird Mrs. Whomevers comes to call in A Wrinkle in Time.

  7. Lenore Zion says:

    oh my, i LOVED a Wrinkle in TIme. i read it like fifteen times in third grade.

  8. Irene Zion says:

    Oh Angela,

    I so want to read “Black Fish: Memoir of a Bad Luck Girl!”
    I want to know all of it, everything.
    You really pull the reader in, you know.
    You’re good.

  9. Judy Prince says:

    “It seemed my window of opportunity to be either gifted or talented was gone forever.” You coax my first grin here, angela. But I was already hooked on your story, the connections that compulsively revealed your heart humming as you read L’Engle’s romantic fantasies—–and your growing up the hard way with Joe.

    Once you’d suffered through your experiences with Joe, you took a new look at L’Engle’s work and life, and it seems that a stubborn “reality” soured all your connections, with L’Engle and her books and with your own expectations about love.

    At the end of your story, you say about L’Engle: “She was a writer; telling stories was what she did. Without it, she’d be nothing.” And I wonder if you feel that way, if other writers feel that way, if it’s the kind of creative obsession with which we build our own fantasies like those that L’Engle built.

    It would seem that you’ve rejected the L’Engle practice of creating only happy ending stories. You give us slow shots of your experiences, sometimes hilarious, sometimes sweet, sometimes heartbreakingly unbearable—-but always you give us an angela with deep analyses and careful confrontations of delight and pain. You give us an angela with whom we can fantasize and laugh and struggle and feel accepted and stronger. I love that!

    • angela says:

      thanks judy!

      i definitely identify with l’engle, if she indeed felt that way, in terms of writing to exist. i know she grew up very lonely, an only child of rich parents who were away most of the time, unlike the characters in her book. maybe she was writing not only to exist but to create characters and a family who’d always be with her, to combat that loneliness.

      in a way, i reject the happy ending, but in a way i don’t. i still feel the need to have some sort of redemptive quality at the end of my personal essays, a “what have i learned” or “what am i grateful for” moment.

      • Judy Prince says:

        angela, I think your readers want the same things you want, as our raves have been telling you!

        keep on keepin’ on, as they say.

  10. Brad Listi says:

    This was great, Angela. I just had to wikipedia Isaak Babel.

    Fuck that guy.

  11. Jordan Ancel says:

    I love that you shared the moment that a fire was ignited within you, the desire to write. I love that you exposed yourself to us to tell us how you’ve found your voice.

    As Don has said above, this is very brave and honest.

    And to agree with Brad, Isaak Babel and the dude who was talking about him can both fuck off.

  12. Simon Smithson says:

    Oh! Stitch in Time!

    Who knows? One thing can change so much. Or maybe it can’t. We only know what we know now – who’s to say that these things aren’t meant to happen and the Universe would have quirked you back to Joe no matter what?

    Not me. It’s above my pay grade.

    I can say only this – so many of the things I’ve cursed and regretted, the experiences I’ve hated at the time, I would not part with.

    • angela says:

      i totally agree with you, simon.

      of all things, i’m thinking of that TV show, FlashForward. if you don’t already know, the characters get a flashforward of their future, one specific day. people who see nothing have died by that day. they try to change their fates but are successful only to a certain point. the universe, as you say, quirks them to their original destinies.

      or are they just self-fulfilling prophecies? or maybe there’s no difference?

      • Simon Smithson says:

        Who’s to say?

        (I’d be very happy for someone to raise their hand at this point and say ‘I am!’)

        It’s a tricky situation, and one that I’m sure will be discussed long after we’ve moved on to whatever’s after this life. Are there ‘points’ which we are destined to hit, and are there grey areas between them? Or is it all laid out in a pattern already? Or is this all just random chance and causality?

        I don’t know. I just don’t know.

  13. Ha! After just having watched the 2003 film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, w/ my bff, she sent me the entire quintology; I’m in the middle of A Swiftly Tilting Planet, right now. I’m finding the writing doesn’t hold up as well as Tolkein or even Lewis, but am still enjoying revisiting Memory Lane.

    • angela says:

      i agree about the quality of l’engle’s writing. she has some strange syntax quirks that i picked up as a kid, and even now have a hard time dropping.

  14. Alison Aucoin says:

    I am so not the girl who’s in the middle of a trauma and thinks that somehow it will all work out. I am, however, the girl who can look back and think that whatever it was really sucked but I’m not so unhappy with the ultimate outcome. Maybe the hard parts do have a pay off, or maybe I’m just damn good at making lemonade out out lemons…

    • angela says:

      me either! when i’m in the middle of even the smallest trouble, i think, It will be like this forever. it’s only after it’s all over that i’m able to see any good in whatever i went through. if we all could tweak our perspectives while we’re in the middle of trauma.

  15. JM Blaine says:

    This was thick
    & rich
    & written quite well.
    I admire your honesty
    & courage.

    I know that’s what it takes
    to really write
    & I’m just not there yet.

    • angela says:

      thanks so much!

      writing about stuff that happened in the past isn’t hard, but putting it out there is. all the TNBers make it easier though.

  16. Cheryl says:

    Angela, I really enjoyed this piece. I love the “A Wrinkle in Time” series. I found it in the school library in 5th grade; it was perfect thing to pick up after tiring of The Balck Stallion and The Chronicles of Narnia. i still have the first three books, yellowed and dog-eared.

    Smart but shy and awkward Meg really spoke to me. I wanted to be a Murray. I wanted to meet witches and cherubim and ride unicorns and understand math. I read A Ring of Endless Light and wrote a very juvenile poem based on it.

    I enjoy the way you structure this essay, juxtaposing your finding of your own voice by writing about your pain and disappointment with Madeline L’Engle’s opposite tack of hiding her own personal pain and struggles behind the model families and fantasies she created.

    • angela says:

      thanks cheryl. i still have my original copies of most of the L’Engle books too! i had to get a new Moon By Night. i’m suddenly remembering my 6th grade teacher let me keep the classroom copy, which was already pretty worn out.

      i too wanted parents as patient and understanding as the Murrys and Austins, a whole slew of brothers and sisters, and a house full of animals. knowing how L’Engle grew up, i guess she wanted that too.

  17. Greg Olear says:

    This is fantastic, Angela. Gave me chills at the end. It reads like one of the 3g1B “When We Fell in Love” entries, but more expansive.

    And they never found out what it was Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Who had to say, for there was a gust of wind, and they were gone.

    (My senior yearbook quote)

  18. Matt says:

    This was really lovely–sad, and yet beautiful. I’m sorry I didn’t have the chance to read it right when it went up.

    Full disclosure: I was given a copy of A Wrinkle in Time as a preteen and never read it. Mostly because it was given to me by a relative who made chronic incorrect assumptions about what books I would enjoy every birthday and Christmas, and by that point I’d learned not to trust her. Also, I was such a precocious reader I mostly skipped the YA books and went straight to adult novels; by sixth grade that was all I was reading.

    I was in a very similar position to yours when I started my undergrad creative writing program. Growing up I almost exclusively read nothing but sci-fi and fantasy: Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert, David Brin, Harlan Ellison, Ursula K. LeGuin, William Gibson, Edgar Rice Burroughs, H.P. Lovecraft. The closest I came to “literature” was classics like Treasure Island or The Call of the Wild, or the books we were assigned to read in my high school English class. Which meant I was at a HUGE disadvantage among all the well-read students in my college classes. I had a lot of catching up to do—and sometimes, it honestly feels like I still do.

    I never apologized for my interest in sci-fi, though. As Will Entrekin recently said, I refuse to apologize for anything that gives me pleasure.

    • Gloria says:

      I was like you, Matt. I was pretty under-read when I started in on my English degree. I, too, loved sci-fi and fantasy. And I took all of the AP English classes in high school, but I bluffed my way through them. I just listened really well at discussion groups and then aced the tests. I thought I was so clever. But then I got to college and realized how very stupid it actually was.

    • angela says:

      i’d have to say L’Engle’s books are an acquired taste. they’re kinda goody-two-shoes and old-fashioned.

      for some reason, i never got into other sci-fi, aside from other YA books (His Dark Materials, Harry Potter of course). i read my brother’s copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and the only reason i finished it was because i had to write a report on it for school. started the Hobbit, couldn’t finish it. but i could watch sci-fi and fantasy movies all day long.

      like you, the only “literature” i read growing up was assigned to me in English classes. then in college i got into a very anti-dead-white-guy phase so i bypassed a lot of “classics.” my biggest influences were and still are contemporary – Margaret Atwood, Annie Dillard, Michael Chabon.

      i don’t know why there’s such snootiness about literature in writing programs. me? i just like a good story that’s clearly told.

  19. Gloria says:

    I have a confession: I didn’t read L’Engle as a kid. And when I tried to do so as an adult – when my daughter was nine or ten – I couldn’t get into it. It made no sense to me. I’m referring to A Wrinkle in Time here. I couldn’t follow the plot. I couldn’t visualize the descriptions. Something was just…missing for me. That’s why I didn’t comment when I read this the other day. It’s kind of embarrassing – like all of you know a secret that I’m not privy to. Or that you, like, speak a special language I don’t speak. This is how I felt when my sister and her friends would speak pig Latin around me. Until I figured it out! I kind of want to try again. Perhaps I will.

    • angela says:

      i, too, found the Wrinkle in Time series confusing at first, especially A Wind in the Door. everything was kinda out there and trippy. i’d never read the Bible growing up so i had no idea what the fuck a cherubim was. i remember i kept looking at the cover, reminding myself what it was supposed to look like.

  20. Ben Loory says:

    a wrinkle in time, possibly the best book ever. it’s that and sebald’s austerlitz, side by side. in my opinion.

    joe sounds like a dick. i’m glad you’re rid of him. you should use his name as the name of a retard in your masterpiece.

  21. angela says:

    well he does play himself in my memoir about our marriage and divorce and stuff, so that’s sort of true.

  22. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    Enjoyed this piece!

    I read some of L’Engle as a young person and was obsessed with A WRINKLE IN TIME. When she died, I ached. Something wonderful had gone from the world.

    I’m sorry about the pain you went through. How sad that your ex-husband didn’t nurture your voice. He missed an opportunity to watch something beautiful evolve. His loss–your gain, and your readers’, too.

  23. AnitaBath says:

    I know I’m posting this long after it was written, but I just want to say that I love your writing! I stumbled over here from your website I got from The Frisky, and I thought you should know you have your own personal fan club accumulating.

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  25. Reginald Harper says:

    The following isn’t really accurate:
    “L’Engle’s husband was apparently an alcoholic who had had multiple affairs over the years. Her children supposedly hated her books and their mother’s depictions of them. Her only son, Bion, upon him Charles Wallace is based, died at 47 from complications of long-term alcoholism. She never wrote about any of it.”

    She writes much about these sort of controversies in her writing. Look at Artaxis, from “Live Coal in the Sea” or Emma’s husband Nik in “Certain Women”–both are fairly clear analogues of Bion and Hugh. Zarin, who wrote the New Yorker profile (which was a bit of a smear piece of sensationalist journalism) simply hadn’t done her research before writing. If she had, she’d be aware of these instances, as well as how in L’Engle’s “Circle of Quiet” she repeatedly emphasizes the fictional nature of many of the episodes in her Crosswicks Journals, noting again and again that they are not works of straight fiction.

    It’s unfortunate if her children felt wronged by her fiction, but this demonstrates a dangerous inability to distinguish fact from fiction. Charles Wallace simply wasn’t Bion. Vicky wasn’t Madeleine. These were fictional characters, and anyone who takes them as something else is asking for confusion.

  26. Jo Ann Rose says:

    I loved your writing here, it was insightful and honest. I was impressed and amazed with your ability to see and accept your own faults/mistakes. I know from personal experience the kind of inner journey and courageously hard work it took. I also know how rare it is to see someone survive an experience such yours, as well as to thrive as successfully as you did. I hope you gave yourself the credit you so richly deserved, and needed to continue growing in self-esteem and well being. These emotions or something like them are usually the culprits that holds us hostage to such poisonous relationships. Wasn’t Keep up the great work, you are my hero, I will just bet that with this time you have had of inner growth, you have also become an amazing writer. I know my art work improved by leaps and bounds as I became less emotionally disabled.
    I will be praying for you.
    A former past PTSD sufferer (actually I still suffer a great deal, I just didn’t want to insinuate that you were still struggling to)
    Jo Ann Rose

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