From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler


Many times in my adulthood, I have thought about this book I read in my youth where two kids run away to New York and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For whatever reason, I could never remember the name of it. Recently, I was reading the New York Times online and I saw an obituary for an author named E.L. Konigsburg who wrote a book called From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I realized that was the book I remembered, so I ordered it on Amazon and now I am rereading it. It’s a fun read about a twelve year old girl named Claudia who is cautious (about everything but money) and here nine year old brother who is adventurous (about everything but money). I had clearly forgotten much of the story, but reading it now, I have a sense memory of being this small town, Midwestern boy and the book being my window into a new exciting, adventurous world. From the time I was 12 or so, I knew I wanted to live in New York. I didn’t even know why, but I think it was books like this and The Westing Game (and maybe watching Diff’rent Strokes and The Jeffersons and I Love Lucy) that beckoned me softly, “Come, come to Manhattan…” In Konigburg’s book, she describes Claudia and Jamie walking from Grand Central Station to The Met via Madison Avenue. Written in the mid-60’s, it could be my walk today or it could also be a walk I took a hundred times when I lived there in the 90’s. I only lived in New York for three years, and now I visit the city about once a year. I aways feel at home there, yet I also always feel like a 12 year old boy discovering the city for the first time. I’ve now lived in Los Angeles nearly 20 years. And as much as I love LA and my life here, I always get wistful when I think about New York. And just like when From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler took me on a trip there 35 years ago, it’s nice to know I can take the journey again anytime I pick up the right book.

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