Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hail Atlantis

I tend to associate moments in my life with what I was reading or listening to at that time. I’m sure most people do this. When I read or listen to them again years later they can transport me back. Sometimes I can see a whole new meaning.

When I was fifteen my favourite author was still Roald Dahl and I also loved Virginia Andrews. I had yet to discover Sci-Fi, Horror and Fantasy. Someone had given Stephen King’s The Stand to my brother, I think, but he never read it and it sat on the dresser unloved for a long time. The dog had read more of it than anyone else in the house, he had attempted to chew through it but gave up when he realised there was no chocolate inside. So, one afternoon, bored silly, I picked up The Stand and started reading. Fifteen years on it is still my favourite book and Stephen King remains in my Top 5 Favourite Authors.
My Well-Loved Copy of The Stand

Rolling on six years, I received a Christmas gift of Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King. I know when I got it because of the inscription inside the cover reading “Nessa, Christmas 2001”. I can’t remember who bought it for me. When I read it first I liked it but to me it wasn’t equal to The Stand. There are 5 stories in the book. Each main character is linked in someway to another. All the stories are linked to the sixties and to the Vietnam War.

In 2001, I was still pretty new to college and all that it entailed. Therefore the second story in the book stood out among the others for me. It was about a boy who had just started college. I could identify with his struggles to claw back wasted time to survive in there.

I’ve read the book many times in the last eleven years. What stands out for me most now is how this character remembers his time in college in the late sixties.

“I have to remind myself that we were smaller then, small enough to live our brightly hued lives under the mushrooms, all the time believing them to be trees, shelter from the sheltering sky. I know that doesn’t make any real sense, but that’s the best I can do: hail Atlantis”

There is more to this quote but I don’t know if it would make sense to many people. Its how I feel about a time in my life that is thirty years after the time the character is talking about. There was a time, in the late ‘90’s, when everything seemed golden. We thought we were golden. Back then it seemed like we could do or have whatever we put our minds to and everything was so important, life or death. But now, wishing on stars just seems pointless. You make your own luck in this world and if what you really want doesn’t happen and never will then maybe its time for a new dream.


  1. That's some great advice - maybe it is a little childish to be wishing on stars, but I will. I'm just not going to leave things up to a star that can't do anything. We do make our own lucky and we have to work to fulfill our dreams. Fairy godmothers only exist in fairytales. I've never read anything by Stephen King, but I should.

  2. Excellent post, Nessa. And I love Krista's response. It's made me think.

    The Welsh poet Henry Vaughn wrote:
    Happy those early days! when I
    Shined in my angel infancy.

    On the other hand, A. A. Procter wrote:
    No star is ever lost we once have seen,
    we always may be what we might have been
    Since truth, though only thought, has life and breath -
    God's life can always be redeemed from death
    And evil in its nature is decay
    And any hour may blot it all away.
    The hopes that lost in some far distance seem
    May be the truer life, and this the dream.

    We can't drift along expecting life to do everythig for us - we must, in a way, make our own good fortune. But those quirks of - what? fate? fortune? fairy godparents? actually do occur; we can't rule them out.