Charles Brian Orner



Children are blessed with large dreams. “I want to be an astronaut.” “Can we climb the Matterhorn today?” “How about tomorrow?” Well, sure. The truth is, this kind of thing only seems large to the adults. For kids, it’s just ordinary. Put one foot in front of the other, ask a couple of questions, and before you know it, you’re standing on the moon. It’s perfectly natural—that magical place where the wild things are—and we're all headed in that direction together. Then we grow a little. The dreams diminish, reality looms large, and before you know it, you’re spending Saturday night alone in the Laundromat with a dog-eared book and a bag of quarters, pining for a serendipitous ham-on-rye. Life happens all by itself, and the large dreams of little children are driven off by the profit motive and the delicate rinse cycle.

Me, I wanted to do literature. Become an author, a journalist, a playwright, a man of letters. Write the Great American Novel, wear elbow-patched tweed jackets, work in academia, and give insight to wide-eyed youth about that thing that happened that one time over at that place with whats-his-name and about which we need speak no further remember papers are due Monday. 

I somehow went the other way instead—cubicles and keyboards and cookie-cutter comps—but I did finally get around to writing a book. It may not be "Great," but it is certainly American, and it is novel, and I would like to think that it is not entirely without merit. I mention this only so that I might employ a double-negative, which of course is a no-no.

Unreality now looms large instead, and we have inexplicably arrived at that place where the wild things are—but these are wild things of an entirely different sort. We find that we are children no longer, and America is once again in crisis. The entire world is in fact in crisis, and one is compelled to make a statement. One tries. More to the point, one dreams.

Come join me in a dream—of a larger world not unlike our own; strange yet familiar; wicked yet wonderful; distant yet just out of reach. A world of wild things and wishes and wide-eyed wonder. A world that we all once knew, and may yet know again.