Michael Chabon's introduction to The Phantom Tollbooth 50th anniversary edition

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29 Responses to “Michael Chabon's introduction to The Phantom Tollbooth 50th anniversary edition”

  1. SamSam says:

    What a great book. I still remember the whetherman, who only told you whether there’d be weather. I need to go find a copy and re-read it.

  2. Brian Damage says:

    That’d be Norton Juster, not Norman.

    This is one of my favourite books of all time and has encouraged my lifelong love of absurdity. Such a mindbending but good-natured book.

  3. heydemann3 says:

    Favorite book ever. I’ve used it as a basis for a paper on linguistics, as well as foisting it on many unsuspecting friends. It’s hard to believe that it’s been out for 50 years.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I love this book as a kid and kept a well-worn copy into adulthood.

    A girlfriend at the time saw my battered loved copy and decided to do something nice.

    She bought a new hardback version, snail-mailed it to Norman Juster and asked for his autograph (explaining what she was doing). He sent a nice note back & autographed the copy.

    I have that copy to this day (along with a reading copy) even though the girl is long gone.

    I did not know that there was an animated film version. I wonder if i dare watch it?

    Anyway, I know. No one cares. Still nice to see this post.

  5. geech says:

    Love it! Currently in the middle of reading it to my four-year-old, with much of it going over his head of course. Yet, he is still loving it and keeps coming back to me with bits and pieces of it that stick with him. I figured I would get him going on this one earlier so that he could enjoy the layers of humor in it as he revisits it over the years…

  6. Robbo says:

    Chabon and Spider Robinson should collaborate on something.

  7. geech says:

    and personally, I long to see an animated version done in the style of Jules Feiffer…

  8. headfirstonly says:

    Whilst tidying up last week I found the battered copy of the Puffin paperback edition that my parents bought me when I was eight or so. The spine is cracked and the pages are yellowed, but dammit, finding it again brought a lump to my throat. Every kid deserves to have read this, or had it read to them.

    There was an animated film, too. Butch Patrick (yes, Eddie off The Munsters) played Milo.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I still have copy of the old Chuck Jones movie they made, and it seems like they’re working on another movie now.

  10. NoctilucentStudios says:

    Add my name to the list of people who just LOVED this book…..I really am looking forward to reading it again.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Saw the film as a child, freaked my shit right out. Felt like I was losing grip on reality.

  12. Daemon says:

    I can honestly say this book changed my life. It’s the one that changed me from being somebody who could read into a voracious reader.

  13. Anonymous says:

    “And, in the very room in which he sat, there were books that could take you anywhere, and things to invent, and make, and build, and break, and all the puzzle and excitement of everything he didn’t know–music to play, songs to sing, and worlds to imagine and then someday make real. His thoughts darted eagerly about as everything looked new–and worth trying.

    ‘Well, I would like to make another trip,’ he said, jumping to his feet; ‘but I really don’t know when I’ll have the time. There’s just so much to do right here.’”

  14. lasttide says:

    Wonderful. I reread the book just last year, and I think it’s actually grown better with my age. I even ended up naming a solo music project The Awful Dynne.

  15. songstarliner says:

    Named my son Milo because of this book.

    • Donald Petersen says:

      Named my son Milo because of this book.

      As did I, entirely because of this book. He’s 20 months old now. Can’t wait to read it to him!

      My older sister read it to me when I was around four. It was a first edition that she had when she was a kid (she’s about 15 years older than I am). I kept that copy for years, but a girlfriend borrowed it and misplaced it. I remember how easily the ink smudged in that edition.

      It’s been my favorite book my whole life. Thanks to Juster (and Feiffer), I was the only kid in my kindergarten class who knew what a dodecahedron was, what a Dilemma looked like, and how to get into (and out of) the Doldrums, and who loved to shout “a slavish concern for the composition of words is the sign of a bankrupt intellect,” even though he always believed the exact opposite.

      I’ve never understood why this book always seemed to have a lower profile or less public awareness than, say, Goodnight Moon or The Wind in the Willows.

    • Anonymous says:

      FTW. *That* is awesome.

  16. mofembot says:

    Puns are *not* a “guy thing.” Groaning and begging a punster to cease and desist is the traditional and appropriate response to puns.

  17. Space Toast says:

    For some reason, it was the radio station playing one program after another of absolute silence that always stayed with me. I loved that book.

    FYI, for those of you with small ones and a trip involving many real-life tollbooths ahead, there’s an audiobook version out — read by David Hyde Pierce.

  18. Anonymous says:

    If you like this, you should read _The Number Devil_ by Hans Magnus Enzensberger. It’s like _Phantom Tollbooth_ for numbers.

  19. holtt says:

    Haven’t read this in years – we read it to the kids when they were younger. Hmmm it must be around here somewhere…

  20. i_prefer_yeti says:

    One of the truly formative books of my youth. Many a cardboard toll booth did I make.

  21. Marktech says:

    Marvellous book! I’ve got my old Puffin edition somewhere, and now I’ve got to dig it out.

    Not forgetting the ever-wonderful Jules Feiffer either.

  22. randyman says:

    No book has brought me as much joy as this one. Though I was already a voracious reader at the age of 12, when I discovered it, I have the feeling that any time I pick up anything to read, anything at all, my mind is seeking the rush of ecstasy I experienced reading with my flashlight underneath the covers, unable to stop.

    Any time I meet someone new I develop a relationship with, any time I make a friend with a parent of younger children, I give them a copy of this. I’m sure I’m in the triple digits by now.

  23. Anonymous says:

    A bad pun is usually ignored but a good pun is the one that gets you “groans”. The reason; the groaner is jealous they didn’t come up with said pun themselves.

  24. Anonymous says:

    @17 Check your local library, there’s a good chance they have it on DVD. The Seattle Public Library has 16 copies!

  25. Shay Guy says:

    Good enough for Shakespeare, good enough for Pratchett, good enough for me. Always have been.

    “Magrat says a broomstick is one of them sexual metaphor things.” (Although this is a phallusy.)

  26. Stefan Jones says:

    Great book. I still remember parts of it really well, and think of them now and then.

    The Chuck Jones movie . . . sigh. My mom (who loved the book) took my brother and sisters and I, and some neighbor kids. It was playing in a weird off-the-beaten path discount theater in Hicksville, Long Island. It was the first movie I remember being disappointed in.

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