The Nine of Wands and Paper Towns by John Green

I’m telling you, my friend, that I’ll get you, I’ll get you in the end. — The Beatles

In his lively, funny novel, which my friend Nessa bought for me, John Green‘s character Margo Roth Speigelman describes to the protagonist, Quentin, how she feels about their hometown: “It’s a paper town … all the houses that were built to fall apart. All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm.” (John Green, Paper Towns)

paper town:

1) a bland, boring, ordinary town

2) subdivisions that never got built

3) a place invented for copyright protection, ie, Agloe, New York, a spot that mapmakers Otto G. Lindberg and Ernest Alpers invented as copyright traps — a location that exists on maps only


a subdivision abandoned before it could be completed

I struggled to relate these words to a Tarot card, deciding finally on the Nine of Wands because of the wall of defense depicted on the card. The wands behind the figure could represent looming problems — or resources. Like all readings, really, responsibility lies within interpretation and surroundings.

The Nine of Wands feels like a fit, also, because Quentin is much like the card’s figure. He’s quite single-minded, holding firmly to that one wand, securely gripping “that one idea or attitude” (Pictures from the Heart, Sandra A. Thomson).


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