The Quest for the Dark Tower Pt. 7: The Eight Magic Blocks

***Spoiler warning! Though I've made every attempt to avoid giving away key plot points during this quest, it's still very possible that information discussed herein may spoil a new reader's experience, so consider yourself warned! ***

When Jake leaves The Manhattan Restaurant of the Mind he continues walking down Second Avenue. At this point, it should be noted that earlier on in the novel The Waste Lands, Eddie Dean has dreams of walking down the same street, which between 54th and 46th Sts. is collectively referred to as The Eight Magic Blocks in Robin Furth's The Dark Tower: A Concordance.

Eddie's dream version of the walk begins with him carrying a book, when he stops to read the title he sees that it is You Can't Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe (which features a very similar waking dream sequence that also takes place in Turtle Bay with the character, Foxhall Edwards). On the cover he sees the shapes of a key, a rose and a door.

Very similar to the opening lines of Thomas Wolfe's first novel, Look Homeward, Angel, which begins " . . . a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; of a stone, a leaf, a door. And of all the forgotten faces." When Eddie opens the book in his hand, the first line in the book reads "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." This is the opening sentence to the The Gunslinger, and it should also come as no surprise that the revised and expanded edition of The Gunslinger opens with the first lines to Look Homeward, Angel.

Obviously, these novels will have a great deal to do with The Dark Tower before the story is through, but in Eddie's dream, he drops the book into the hands of a vagrant sitting in front of a magic shop named House of Cards. Later, when Jake passes by this building (handing the vagrant sitting in front the change from his purchases instead of a book), it actually houses a diner named Chew Chew Mama's. Much later in the story, in Song of Susannah, readers will discover the name has changed once again to Dennis' Waffles and Pancakes.

So what do the many different names of the corner of 52nd Street and 2nd Avenue mean? I'd guess that Roland would say that "time is a face on the water." In other words, things change and in New York City things can change very quickly. In our own where and when, the north-east corner of 52nd St. and 2nd Ave. is home to a restaurant named Go Sushi.

In both Eddie's dreams and Jake's where and when, the corner of 51st and 2nd is home to Tower of Power Records, which is prone to blasting music by The Rolling Stones out of it's streetfront speakers. In our reality, the corner has been rebuilt and is home to a Rite Aid pharmacy.

What I found most interesting was that halfway between 49th and 48th streets, where both Eddie and Jake see a mirror shop named Reflections Of You, is a bulletin board for the Turtle Bay Association.

On the day Niki and I visited, the board was displaying a cancellation of a party held at The Katherine Hepburn Garden due to rainstorms (which cleared up just as we arrived on Second Ave.) and a special edition of The Turtle Bay News, reacting to the crane disaster that had devastated several buildings in the neighborhood just two months before. A little further uptown, another crane accident had occurred just days before. It all seemed like a series of strange coincidences considering the next location we visited on Second Ave . . .

Long days, pleasant nights!


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