Day five of the Blog Boss Winter Challenge is a doozy, prompting me with “The Best Book You Ever Read”. That is asking a LOT from someone with several degrees in English literature, not to mention someone who has difficulty making choices. Like, what genre are we talking here? At what point in my life? Fiction or non-fiction? What topic?

I could probably write an essay for each subquestion, but I am lazy and also fairly sure this question will come up again in subsequent challenges, so I want to leave myself options for when the time comes. So today I’d like to talk about The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle.

Reading TLU didn’t really change my life in any meaningful way. I’m not going to summarize the plot here because actually I remember very little of the plot; the plot is quite secondary to the profound feeling of bittersweet sorrow and fragile beauty packed into this little book. The movie tries to do it justice, and the haunting theme music almost gets there, but falls short, in my opinion.

As I’m writing this I realize that I perhaps misinterpreted the question, which might assume that “favourite” means that I reread it every year or always come back to it with delight or remember it constantly / talk about it frequently whenever the topic comes up in conversation. Actually, I don’t think I’ll be reading The Last Unicorn again for a while. It’s the emotional equivalent of trying to drink from a fire hose, for me. I need time and space to sit with those feelings because they hit me so hard.

It is one of the novels I hold in highest esteem, however, for that reason. I don’t deny that (a few) other novels can do the same thing (Tigana, for instance), but The Last Unicorn does it in less than 200 pages (ish; I don’t have my copy near). It’s a little package of the sublime; the impression it leaves is something entirely extra to the sum of its parts.

Day 5 = done.


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