Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

All things must pass. Old proverbs know this to be true, and so does George Harrison. So why doesn't The Night Circus?

I worried about the end of this book for a looong time. The last several months have involved several road trips, and the audiobook of Erin Morgenstern's novel filled part of each leg. So ever since about March, I've recognized that this book is a lovely book. The descriptions are magical, and the magic is moving. Yet the whole time, I sensed that the ending of this story would be more than a simple climax/resolution. It would be more than tying off loose ends and tidying up the character's messes. It would define the whole book.

Unfortunately, I was right.

The magic of existence is that it ends. We die. Someday, the sun will burn up our planet. To pretend that flowers never wilt and ice never melts is to deny the very beauty of their existence.

Besides, put beauty aside for a moment: the excitement of existence sprouts from what comes next. And what comes next can only come if we let go of what came before.

A clinging unwillingness to let things pass (like a nun in public -- ba-dum-chah!) is, essentially, a refusal of mortality. Death makes life all the more beautiful, and stubborn permanence undoes all the charm that exists in Morgenstern's truly magical world.

Can you sign someone else's love letters? Can you paint someone else's masterpiece? I don't think so. I think we are all meant to create our own dreams. Collaboration and continuation are parts of creating in a community, but you must be free to add your own strokes to the painting. Otherwise, you're simply lacquering someone else's love letter to the world until it is entombed, a preserved mummy of the beauty that once was.


  1. I loved it- one of my faves of 2012 as well. For all the reasons you said. I never found it slow either. Interesting the reaction it gets!

  2. I really enjoyed this book. It was a bit dicey to follow sometimes because of the various stories intertwining, but thought it was very original (but in a good way!). I did find it a bit challenging to read on the kindle because it was important to have a sense of the dates, which was a hassle to return to the start of the chapter to check.