“Famous fan fiction” is always a tricky concept to deal with; the oceans of online fan content are deep and strange, and it’s often hard to tell what’ll be a well-known inside joke for one set of readers, and some sort of bizarre, mutant cave fish for another. Still, a piece does occasionally float up to the top. Like, say, “No Reservations: Narnia,” a 2010 bit of fiction by writer Edonohana (a.k.a. YA writer Rachel Manija Brown), mimicking the style and wit of beloved food writer/TV host/cultural explorer Anthony Bourdain, asking what would happen if he fell through a magical wardrobe into C.S. Lewis’ allegorical paradise, camera crew in tow.
The story has been circulated on the internet for years, propelled largely by Brown’s ability to catch the spirit of Bourdain—who died last month in an apparent suicide—and his work, a sense of cocky pique constantly softened by his fascination with other realms, real or imagined. As it happened, it was also a favorite of The New Yorker’s food correspondent, Helen Rosner, who wrote a column this week describing Bourdain’s reaction to the piece when she showed it to him a few months back.
Bourdain’s response was short but also perfectly him: Funny, warm, and human, even as he read about a fictionalized version of himself thumb-wrestling with a Talking Mouse or feasting with Wer-Wolves “This is astonishingly well written with an attention to detail that’s frankly a bit frightening,” he wrote back to her. “I’m both flattered and disturbed. I think I need a drink.”
Here’s an excerpt from Brown’s story, coming near the end:
“Sons of Adam and Daughter of Eve,” says the lion. “Your time in Narnia is over.”
“Already?” I can’t help protesting.
The lion nods gravely. “Anthony, Todd, Alan: treasure your memories, for you may never again return to Narnia.”
Todd looks like he’s going to burst into tears. “Did we do something wrong?”
The lion shakes his great head, sending ripples through his mane. “The time you had is the time you were given. Nothing can ever happen twice.”
I understand what he means. I can never again taste that same pavender that Digwell made for me, no matter how many other pavenders I eat. Once a moment has passed, it’s gone. Only the memories remain—the memories, and the desire to go somewhere new, try something different, and create more memories.