Monday, July 31

"The City of Dreaming Books" by Walter Moers

Books are not safe any more: this is one of the lessons of Bookholm and Optimus Yarnspinner, a yet unpublished writer from Lindworm Castle.

This book is one of the marvels of the literary world. It makes me sorry that I don't read German (I read an English translation, wonderfully and fearlessly made), which is quite a feat and has not been accomplished since The Neverending Story, and even that I did not delve into with such rapaciousness (had to have an excuse to use that word) that Moers' book elicits. It makes me glad I like to read books and drink coffee and sit in cafes till late, reading and rapt and content in the smell of old books.

How does one explain?

It fits within the realm of adventure, thriller, mystery, coming-of-age stories, and stories about stories and also books. It is about what it is to be a writer, a reader, and a dragon. Or maybe not a dragon--just a dinosaur with very small wings. It is about the importance of knowing what you read--that books and knowledge can be very, very dangerous and can sometimes hurt or even kill you. That there are all types of good books and all types of bad books--that you should be able to tell the difference.

The concept of literary identity is explored through the awesomest of venues; the cycloptic Fearsome Booklings that devour books and name themselves after famous authors (more to these creatures than first meets the eye!), the bookemists that try to make novel-writing machines and dabble in poisoned pages, the gagaists that remind one of Joyce and Cummings (is that heretical?), and the authorial godfathers that inhabit the world of bookhunters and authors and readers . . .

I almost literally could not put this book down. I frightened several waiters and cafe patrons with laughing out loud, feeling my eyes tear up and having to sniffle, and then sitting blankly at the cafe table staring straight ahead of me in absolute horror that the book actually ended.

Please go read this book. Please go buy this book. Give money to this author. We want this man to keep writing. He needs to pay his rent and his legal addictive stimulant dealers (probably a Lavazza cafe, since he's in Germany). Be a patron of art and literature! Buy the hardback!

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