Christel Gause

August 17, 1999

Post #909 – 19990817


Thank you for your congrats on my recent nuptuals. Your blessing was much appreciated by both of us. I wrote this essay last spring and I put it on my amatuer web site. It’s about how Borgel changed my life:

It was between the eighth and ninth grades that I first read Borgel, the book by Daniel Pinkwater that changed my life. I had randomly picked it off the shelf of the bookstore, intrigued by the cover illustration and interested by the synopsis on the back. I bought it along with a few other books, took it home and forgot about it for a while. During the boring summer vacation between junior high and high school, I got it back out and read it. It was funny. The characters and the dialogue made me laugh. But somehow it was more than just an amusing book. I had read many of those. This book was different. It was as if someone had pried open the confines of my mind and then wrote down what they saw, only made it better.

That’s where the wisdom of Pinkwater comes in. His books gave me a message I had never been given before. He showed me that you don’t need to be accepted to be worthy as a human being. I could identify with his characters and was familiar with many of their situations, being dismissed as eccentric by the “normal” people in society. I learned that I could do what I wanted, and that I didn’t have to do it by anyone else’s standards.

Melvin Spellbound, the main character in Borgel, was different too. He didn’t fit in with his average, ideal family and was left alone, bored with his circumstances. When uncle Borgel became involved in his life, he was able to experience the new and different things that he had been missing. Borgel tells Melvin one night that he is leaving, and in a leap of independence Melvin decides to go with him. Suddenly, Melvin is the most normal being in the galaxy, having left his frustrating expectations behind.

Melvin learns all sorts of interesting things about the universe from his uncle; space is like a bagel and time is like a map of New Jersey. In this context the unconventional seems commonplace, even logical. When Melvin decides to return to his family he does so on his own terms. Anyone who felt left out in high school, is considered a little “off”, or is unafraid to test the boundaries of their imagination, will appreciate the writings of Daniel Pinkwater. His words can help make this standardized society a little easier to bear. Now we know we are not alone.

Daniel replies:

Nice essay. Of course it's all wrong, because I am, and have always been, the ultimate in normalcy, and the characters in my books are just regular people like everybody.