The Neverending Story by Michael Ende is one of those books that I really should have read already. A hundred years ago. When I was ten. At the very latest yesterday. It’s meta. Cortazar for kids! Books are dangerous and powerful and magical. The lines between reality and fiction are nebulous, and reading can transport you, literally, to another world. Right up my alley.
The legend that has sprung up around the writing of the book just adds to the magic. It took a long time to write, much longer than expected, and the deeper than Ende got into the writing, the harder he found it to leave Fantasia again. After several years, he is reported to have slipped so deeply into the world of the book within the book that he wasn’t sure even he could figure out how to get Bastian out again. Or himself. Really, this is a story in a story in a story. Who knows where reality ended and began. Michael Ende certainly didn’t.
And get this: Michael Ende was German. Holy shit! I could read this in the original language! (No offense, translators, you work a magic all your own.) But holy shit! Having only ever been exposed to the rather cheesey (English language) cult film, I never even suspected that this wasn’t an English language creation. How stupid. And Ende has written all sorts of other interesting books that look weird and fantastical and Borgesian. There’s Der Spiegel im Spiegel. Ein Labyrinth. There’s Momo (kids book about time travel). And at least 25 more.
I would say I can’t believe I have never gotten around to reading Ende, but you’ve seen my to-read pile. And when it comes to German fantastical authors, I’ve been distracted by Walter Moers.
While I’m babbling about Ende, I should mention that you can win a free copy of the audio book over here right now. To enter you need to like a facebook page and enter a name and country. Doing so might get you a copy of the audio book (five available) and will make me look good at work. The audio is in German, but you could just put it on for background music and marvel at how un-ugly and not-so-very-harsh the German language actually is.
Have you read The Neverending Story? (Or anything else by Ende for that matter?)