Thursday, May 30, 2013

Voice of the Fire

Written by: Alan Moore

First line: A-hind of hill, ways off to sun-set-down, is sky come like as fire, and walk I up in way of this, all hard of breath, where is grass coldling on I's feet and wetting they not.

Why you should read this book: Problematic despite its stunning concept, this novel-in-short-stories carries the reader through six thousand years of historical fiction (think Maxine Hong Kingston: nobody can say what was, so please accept this interpretation of legend with what-might-have-been as an agreed-upon truth) localized to the small town of Northampton, where the author has spent most of his life. Incomplete burials, heads and legs separated physically or spiritually from their bodies, fathers separated from their families, crematory fires rife with transformative meaning, spirit dogs, madmen, liars, thieves, and magic are the unifying themes of these dozen tales. People fail to be redeemed, to get what they deserve, to find solace or relief in magic or relationships; magic, if anything, is an explanation for darkness, not a path to the light.

Why you shouldn't read this book: All possible worlds herein presented are extremely bleak, the most sympathetic characters are the mentally ill ones, and the author makes no apology for anything; everything in this town, he seems to say, is dark and false and hateful. I really, really wanted to enjoy this book, but I'm left with a sorrow for the knowledge gleaned herein.

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