Tuesday, February 3, 2009
I really enjoyed reading this book, which was so big that the paperback is currently being issued in three separate books (or is that just a marketing ploy?). The hardcover has been out for a couple years: it originally appeared as a serial a la Dickens, which makes sense since it shares a richly textured, plot and character driven appeal with those Victorian novels, which it almost seems to parody at times. It has a very dream-like feeling to it, and other reviewers have remarked on similarities to "Eyes Wide Shut," with lots of characters wearing masks, and some mysterious rites taking place in remote stately manors. It's a great read, and I found it very hard to put down. I am terrible at plot summaries, the following from the LiveJournal "50 Book Challenge," is pretty good, without being too spoiler-ish.
"Set in an unnamed city very much like Victorian London, the novel opens with a young heiress, Celeste Temple, being coldly rejected by her fiance via letter. Unsatisfied and angered by his vague explanation, she decides to uncover the truth through the tried and tested means of following him. This results in her attending a masked ball at a lonely manor where she discovers that he has become part of a sinister cabal. These 'dream eaters' are rich, highly placed in society, decadent and seeking to hatch various nefarious plans around the alchemically created glass books of the title.
Celeste meets up with Cardinal Chang, an assassin for hire whose quarry at the masked ball has been murdered by a third, unknown party and Doctor Svenson, surgeon to the Prince of the Duchy of Mackenburg. The Prince is in the country to celebrate his engagement to another heiress whose familial home is the main setting for these sinister goings-on. These two men soon become Celeste's allies and the unlikely trio take on the cabal.
Set over a period of three days, there are a lot of words and plot within its 760+ pages."
This is Grand Rapids. I love this town. Why did I ever leave? Oh yeah, I remember now ... reasons. Seemed like a good idea, even compelling, at the time. Now? Not so much. This song by Garrison Keilor seems to articulate how I feel about Grand Rapids, which has many things in common with Lake Woebegone. Perhaps the Grand Rapids I remember never really existed, either.
One more spring in Minnesota
To come across Lake Woebegone
Old town, I smell the coffee
If I could see you one more time
That long, long time is always on my mind
I'm just a stranger with memories of days of long ago
Could it have been forty years since then
What happened to us? I'd like to know.
That yard, that tree — you climbed it once with me
We talked of cities we'd live in someday
I left, old friend, and now I'm back again
Please say you missed me since I went away
One more time, this dance together
Just you and I, now don't be shy
This time, I know I'll hear the music
If you would hold me one more time
Monday, February 2, 2009
And when the music plays
And when the words are
Touched with sorrow
When the music plays
I hear the sound
I had to follow
Once upon a time
Once beneath the stars
The universe was ours
Love was all we knew
And all I knew was you
I wonder if you know
I wonder if you think about it
Once upon a time
In your wildest dreams