This set of excerpts is from a piece I found on Michael Chabon’s website. It is the afterword to an edition of The Phantom Tollbooth.
[The Phantom Tollbooth] appeared in my life as mysteriously as the titular tollbooth itself, brought to our house one night as a gift for me by some old friend of my father’s whom I had never met before, and never saw again. Maybe all wondrous books appear in our lives the way Milo’s tollbooth appears, an inexplicable gift, cast up by some curious chance that comes to feel, after we have finished and fallen in love with the book, like the workings of a secret purpose. Of all the enchantments of a beloved book the most mysterious–the most phantasmal–is the way they always seem to come our way precisely when we need them.
. . .
The only place I ever truly longed to be that was not where I happened to find myself (not counting dentists’ chairs and Saturday morning synagogue services) was inside the pages of a book. And here, again, as I found on finishing the novel, The Phantom Tollbooth understood me. Milo’s journey into the Lands Beyond (beyond the flyleaf, that is, with its spectacular Jules Feiffer map), was mine as a reader, and my journey was his, and ours was the journey of all readers venturing into a wonderful books, into a world made entirely, like Juster’s, of language, by language, about language. While you were there, everything seemed fraught and new and notable, and when you returned, even if you didn’t suffer from Milovian ennui, the “real world” seemed deeper, richer, at once explained and, paradoxically, more mysterious than ever.
I hope everyone has a wonderful and inspiring weekend!