Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Nostalgia Wallow Part Deux

Posting last week about the first book I ever owned reminded me of the first book I read that fully captured my imagination as a story -- so much so that I spent thirty years trying to find it, and finally laid my hands on a copy two years ago.

The book was a young adult science-fiction novel by Paul Capon, "The End of the Tunnel." It's about four young kids who go on a caving trip together in England, get trapped in a cave by a landslide, and follow the cave deep under ground, encountering a forgotten civilization, before finally finding their way back to the surface -- through the Paris catacombs.

It was, as the kids say these days, a thorough mindf***.

I read this book once, when I was seven or eight years old, and it made such an impression I've retained scenes, characters, and images, for almost fifty years. For example: as the kids head out for their exploration, they pass a hole in the ground, where, for good luck, they drop a penny and listen to hear how long it takes to hit the bottom. It takes a looooong time. Later, once they're trapped under ground, they eventually come across the bottom of that hole -- and find a pile of coins lying under it, with the coins on the bottom of the pile dating back hundreds of years.

How cool is that?

I could go on, but all I really want to say is how much I loved that book, and how happy I was when I tracked down a copy of the original printing. It wasn't inexpensive, because the book has been out of print for five decades, and is something of a collector's item, but looking at a recent listing for it on Abebooks.com, I think I got off pretty cheap.

Any favorite books you remember vividly from childhood? Any you spent a lifetime tracking down?

Let me know.


rob! said...


your JLA #200 is my all-time favorite comic book ever--i still own the same copy i bought off the newsstand in March 1981.

so while it's not exactly comparable to what you're talking about, that is my most beloved childhood book.

rita said...

The End of the Tunnel is one of my all-time favorite books. I was lucky enough to find the others (Enid Blyton's Mystery Island and Eleanor Cameron's Mushroom Planet series, and The Invisble Island, can't remember right off who wrote it) in recent years, but The End of the Tunnel is one I really want. I haven't found it for less than $300, up to several thousand, and I can't pay that now. If you've see it around for less than that, will you please let me know?

Gerry Conway said...

If I do, I'll post it here.

Joe Holmes said...

Gerry --

It's amazing but my story is very similar to yours -- I read End of the Tunnel in probably 5th grade, and then spent decades trying to find it again. A few years ago I located another favorite by Paul Capon, "Phobos, the Robot Planet," or "Lost, a Moon," and had it shipped from Australia (!), but Tunnel is far too expensive, as Rita said.