An Acceptable Time

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There are invisible strings, hundreds and thousands of them, that run back deep into our childhoods - Lincoln's "mystic chords of memory," if you will - and often you don't know that one exists until something happens to pluck it. Madeleine L'Engle is dead, at eighty-eight: I never got very deep into anything she wrote except the Time trilogy and its companion volume, Many Waters, but those books I probably read six times each at least, and the string her death plucked has been vibrating in my mind all day - for Charles Wallace and Meg Murray and Calvin O'Keefe and Mrs. Whatsit, but also for the child I was when I encountered her books, the near-yet-faraway past in which I read and then re-read them. For John Podhoretz, whose building she lived in when he was a boy, the chord is thicker, the note stronger. If you loved her books, go read his tribute.

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Ross Douthat is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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