As a kid, i loved the first few books of c.s. lewis's narnia series... until i realized that they were actually christian propaganda. (my religious education was slight enough that it took me a while to even figure out the whole aslan-christ symbol part.)
it was years before i forgave lewis, and my sense of those books never entirely recovered. i was drawn mightily into tolkien, "dune," vonnegut and others, and didnt much look back until the film of "the lion, the witch and the wardrobe" reminded me what an evocative writer lewis was. (let me recommend his book on the finite universe of the medieval worldview, "the discarded image.")
turns out i wasnt alone in feeling cheated, and laura miller -- who serious readers know as an erudite and beautifully clear literary critic whose work appears in salon.com -- addresses the issue in her wonderful new "The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia."
the book, a kind of combined work of literary criticism, author biography and memoir, will be intriguing even to those who dont share my childhood atheism: miller gets into why we read, why children love animals, the bond between reader and writer, british masculinity, the friendship between lewis and tolkien, the moral of slasher films, her discussions with neil gaiman, and so on.
her book, then, is an intellectual journey of the best kind. and it's driving me back to lewis's series, which has recently -- with fox planning to film "voyage of the dawn treader" -- gotten a new lease on its cinematic life.
Photo credit: Little, Brown and Flickr user 18