Saturday, April 30, 2011

And now for something completely different...

The Door to Lost Pages
by Claude Lalumière

I don’t know that I would have seen this little book if it were not for an intriguing review in PW catching my eye. And I think what intrigued me is that this slight novella of linked stories was set around a bookstore. Surely I am not the only hard-core bibliophile that is immediately attracted to tales involving bookstores and booksellers?

The novella contains a brief (skippable) introduction, followed by a prologue and six stories spanning a number of years. The bookstore is not the primary setting or focus of all the stories, but it is one of the elements that link them. As is Aydee, the central character of the first story, who is introduced as a neglected and abused 10-year-old girl. The store, Lost Pages, came into her life at a time of need, as it had done for others over the years. It’s not your average, florescent-lit chain store. Rather, it had echoes of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s Cemetery of Forgotten Books. And, readers, who among us isn’t seeking a mystical bookstore?

There are many other mystical/mythical elements to the tales, some of them rather new-agey for my liking. (But my tolerance is low, and there wasn’t so much that it was off-putting.) But those stories, some of them, were pretty “out there” and weird. This is another thing that can be off-putting to some readers and appealing to others. The stories contained a provocative mix of stark realism and fantasy, innocence and experience. Do know going in that there are repeated references to substance use and abuse. Additionally, there are graphic depictions of a broad spectrum of sexuality, some of it unconventional. What I’ll say is that I think Mr. Lalumière showed restraint and didn’t get too carried away with the weirdness. His writing is very strong, and the imagery was vivid and interesting.

Interesting. That’s a word I returned to time and time again while trying to describe this book to a friend. It seems like such a bland word, but I’m stuck with it. There was nothing bland about this book. And there are worse things than being “interesting.” And if I can’t ever find the door to Lost Pages myself, at the very least I hope to find more of these stories.

No comments:

Post a Comment