House with the clock in its walls book
The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairsone day when i was about 8 or 9, living in some chilly state, i bundled myself up until i looked like a little gray egg, hood over head, the hoods furry fringe making my face a cameo portrait of a round genderless blob, and proceded to wait for my ride in the lobby of my apartment building. a young man came down to use the vending machines there, looked at me, and asked conversationally, Are you a little boy or a little girl?... i died a little bit, then squeaked out: Im a little girl.
i laugh at the story now but i also cant help but remember the sharp flash of humiliation, the quick decision that it was less embarrassing to be a girl mistaken for a boy than to admit that i could have been a boy who looked like a girl, and then of course the ample self-loathing that followed. it is interesting to think about the complicated emotions that my youthful self had to wrestle with.
i recently re-read House with a Clock in Its Walls and was taken aback by the memory of reading it for the first time at age 10 or so - and the memory i had had back then of my moment of mortification and sudden femininity. a memory of a memory! i was never a bullied or angst-ridden child, so that memory pops out as almost uniquely painful. the protagonist Lewis Barnavelt of House With a Clock was the first time id read about a hero who was unheroic, who lied to avoid embarrassment, who rather despised himself. reading about him, reading the story of a boy filled with anxiety and doubt and even self-loathing, was almost like a tonic: now here was an author who lived in the real world! here was a protagonist who knew exactly how i felt that day. Lewis Barnevelt is akin to Narnias Edmund or Eustace - except Aslan does not step in to help him slough off his self-hating nature. he has to do it on his own. he does not go on a quest and he does not save the day; instead he grows by bits and starts, the shedding of each of his dark layers a small triumph - quickly forgotten by Lewis, almost unbearably affecting to me.
The House With a Clock in Its Walls
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Your browser is currently not set to accept cookies. - It is the first in the series of twelve novels featuring the fictional American boy Lewis Barnavelt see list of Lewis Barnavelt novels.
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