Today is not that day.
Way back in my younger days, I studied languages a lot, starting with French and German, dabbling in a little Spanish, leading up to some Thai and Vietnamese, which I somehow managed to include in my graduate degree program – which had nothing whatsoever to do with languages or linguistics. I think the university didn’t really know what to do with me, since I didn’t appear to fit the mold of whatever they thought people in my degree program might do, and really it was just coincidental that they were even teaching Vietnamese the two summers I was there. Life is like that, right?
Well, for me it is. I don’t know about you.
But now it’s oh so many years later. Aside from the occasional French language movie and German newspaper website views, I don’t actually use these languages every day, and they are sliding away from me as my brain is filled up with other stuff. I fight back with an annual reading of Harry Potter in French or German, because somehow wizarding words are even more fun in German, but it’s hard to get around to working that part of my brain most days.
Now, thanks to the affordability of a global economy, I can also re-read Vango: Entre Ciel et Terre whenever the spirit moves me, reminding my brain that a hirondelle is a swallow and speeding through pages where I know what’s going on, but I’m not entirely sure what some of the words are. Why would my brain love this? Who knows? It does.
I’m convinced that great books, great stories, are ways to do more than just escape our own present world. Vango is more than a story of a boy with a mysterious past, a zeppelin, a secret island of monks, some Nazis, and maybe Stalin. For me, once in a while, stories re-connect with an old me or find a new me through languages I haven’t spoken for years. It’s especially wonderful when I need a break from this bizarre reality we find ourselves in.
Bring on the hirondelles. Bring on the fun.
Vango, books 1 & 2, by Timothée de Fombelle