Manual Unexpectedly, Milo: A Novel

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Among Milo Slade's geriatric patients are a man dependent on Viagra for his addiction to Internet pornography and a woman who makes Milo rake her shag carpeting. Milo, meanwhile, stumbles onto a cache of videotapes that form a mysterious womans video diary. In it, she confesses her secrets and talks about the guilt she carries around about a childhood friend named Tess who disappeared and is, the woman believes, dead. The story prompts Milo to take a road trip to North Carolina to find Tess, and though it upsets his routine, he is finally forced to share the demands of his disorder with someone else, which changes his rather grave perspective on life.

Not only are his books wonderful and hilarious, but Matthew truly is a great guy. Skip to main content. Search form Search. Advanced Search. Saturday, August 21, - pm. Water Street Bookstore. Milo's age was removed from the text—early drafts have him aged eight or nine—as Juster decided not to state it, lest potential readers decide they were too old to care.

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Since no one has ever bothered to explain the importance of learning to Milo, he regards school as the biggest waste of time in his life. Like the Bee, the Humbug's insult to his fellow insect goes over Milo's head, but possibly not the reader's: "A slavish concern for the composition of words is the sign of a bankrupt intellect. The Phantom Tollbooth in Dictionopolis [23].

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Another theme is the need for common sense to back up rules. Milo journeys through a land where, without Rhyme or Reason, the art of governance has been lost, leading to bizarre results.

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Milo repeatedly meets characters to whom words are more important than their meaning. The Whether Man, for all his talk, is unable to provide Milo with the information or guidance the boy wants, while Officer Shrift's investigation of the overturning of the Word Market contains the forms of law, without justice. The denizens around Digitopolis are little better; the twelve-faced Dodecahedron , named for what he is, turns the logic of his naming on its head when he asks if everyone with one face is called Milo.

The attitudes now displayed by the adherents of both brothers are summed up by the Dodecahedron, "as long as the answer is right, who cares if the question is wrong? As Milo struggles with words and begins the process of making himself their master, he also has difficulty with numbers, especially when he speaks with.

Milo has had difficulties in school with mathematics and problem solving; his reaction to this encounter is to protest that averages are not real. The partial child enlightens Milo that there is beauty in math beyond the tedium of learning an endless set of rules, "one of the nicest things about mathematics, or anything else you might care to learn, is that many of the things which can never be, often are".

For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons". Although Milo is bored with learning, that does not mean he knew nothing before his journey. He exhibits characteristics of a well-schooled child of his time; his speech is polite and peppered with "please" and "thank you", and when he unexpectedly encounters the partial child, he requests pardon for staring.


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Mindful of his mother's admonition to eat lightly when a guest, he initially orders a light meal at the banquet, only to find the waiters bringing in insubstantial light beams. Not realizing he will be asked to eat his words, he then makes a plausible start at a speech before being interrupted by the king. Marcus in his notes to its annotated edition writes that the boy learns to think in the abstract, pledging after his unintentional jump to Conclusions that he will not make up his mind again without a good reason.

Milo does not accept the word of the demon of insincerity that he is a threat and is rewarded by learning he is not. Even though the day is won by Milo and his fellow questers, it is a great but not a permanent victory, as he hears the kingly brothers begin to argue again as he departs. Juster has written that it was his intent to get Milo out of there as quickly as possible, and that "the fight would have to be won again and again".

Milo's trip through the lands beyond the tollbooth teaches the previously bored child to appreciate both journey and destination. This is a lesson that had been unlearned by the citizens of Wisdom, as exemplified by the described fate of the twin cities of Reality and Illusions.

Although the city of Illusions never actually existed, Reality was lost as its residents concentrated on getting to their destination as quickly as possible, and, unappreciated, the city withered away, unnoticed by the busy people who still hasten along its former streets. Milo meets his trials by defining himself as different from the kingdom's inhabitants, who either demand or accept conformity, as enforced by the kingdom's laws, which discourage and even outlaw thought.

Milo cannot accept such laws, beginning when, in the Doldrums, he thinks, thus violating a local ordinance and separating himself from the thoughtless inhabitants.

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Liston opined that because the Kingdom of Wisdom's "laws require the impossible, they contradict what it means to be fully human". The Phantom Tollbooth contains allusions to many works, including those loved by Juster in his own upbringing. Some of Juster's favorite books as a child, including The Wind in the Willows , had endpaper maps; Juster insisted on one, over Feiffer's opposition, going so far as to sketch one and require that his collaborator reproduce it in his own style.

In his childhood, Juster spent much time listening to the radio. Jim gave Tock his wisdom, courage, and adventurous spirit. He remembered that the condition affected word associations. On the Lone Ranger [radio serial] they would say, 'Here come the Injuns! The Phantom Tollbooth in Dictionopolis [33]. Some of the incidents in the book stem from Juster's own past. In Digitopolis, the Numbers Mine, where gemlike numerals are dug for, recalled one of Juster's architecture professors at the University of Pennsylvania , who compared numbers and equations to jewels.

Growing up in a Jewish-American household where the parents demanded high achievement, Juster was intimately familiar with expectations, though in his case many of his parents' hopes were centered on his older brother, an academic star. Juster had not read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland when he wrote The Phantom Tollbooth , but the two books, each about a bored child plunged into a world of absurd logic, have repeatedly been compared. Carroll leaves us uncertain if Alice has learned anything from her adventures, but Juster makes it clear that Milo has acquired tools he will need to find his way through life.

The Phantom Tollbooth was published in September Its competition among new books for the minds and hearts of children included Roald Dahl 's James and the Giant Peach. Neither publisher nor first-time author expected many sales for The Phantom Tollbooth , but Juster was nevertheless disappointed not to find his work on store shelves. His mother, Minnie, did her part, as her son put it, "terrorizing" bookstore owners into displaying it.

The Phantom Tollbooth meeting the elevated Alec Bings [40]. Juster says the book was rescued from the remainders table when Emily Maxwell wrote a strong review of it in The New Yorker.


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In , the book was published in Britain. The obvious guess is that the appeal of this sort of writing is directed towards just the sort of adults who derive a perfectly grown-up pleasure from regularly rereading the Alices. As one might expect, it is illustrated by every grown-up's favourite child-like pictures with the built-in sad sophistication, the work of Jules Feiffer.

One would hardly have thought from the sound of this that it would have so magnetic an appeal, but the brilliant verbal humour and the weird and wonderful characters the Dodecahedron. After publication, Juster sent a copy of the book to the Ford Foundation, with an explanation of how the projected book on cities had transformed into The Phantom Tollbooth.

Unexpectedly, Milo — Matthew Dicks

He found that children understood the wordplay at different ages, and heard from the occasional college student as well. Some students wrote a second time after a gap of years "and they'll talk to me about a whole different book, normally. But now they've got a lot more of the words right. A lot more of the fun kind of crazy references". Composed entirely of numbers, some readers assumed it was a code and set about breaking it, only to appeal to Juster for help when they were not successful.

The numbers were not intended to have any meaning, and were meant to convey that the Mathemagician's letter could not have been understood by Azaz or his advisers. The Phantom Tollbooth home again [49]. As the book became acclaimed as a modern classic, it began to be used in the classroom, and Juster corresponded with some teachers.

Novelist Cathleen Schine recalled, "it was as if someone had turned on the lights. The concepts of irony, of double entendre, of words as play, of the pleasure and inevitability of intellectual absurdity, were suddenly accessible to me.

They made sense to me in an extremely personal way. It struck us as a little like The Wizard of Oz , only better. They tell you it's a kids' book, but take my word for it, no one who reads it is ever the same. No hype.

The book continued to garner positive reviews and comments. I want to stand in Waterloo and press copies into people's hands. This is a book that should be in every home.

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Whether you are 8 or 88 Juster's mixture of allegorical wisdom and logical whimsy will take you on a journey of the spirit. Refer to eBay Return policy for more details. You are covered by the eBay Money Back Guarantee if you receive an item that is not as described in the listing. Payment details. Payment methods. Other offers may also be available. Interest will be charged to your account from the purchase date if the balance is not paid in full within 6 months. Minimum monthly payments are required. Subject to credit approval.

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