Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Charles de Lint Slam!

Dreams Underfoot and Moonlight and Vines— Charles deLint

These are two fat collections of deLint's short stories, written over a period of well over a decade. They are roughly chronological and mostly set in Newford, deLint's fictional town based loosely on Ottawa, and they speak to the themes deLint likes to address: the family we choose (when the broken families we leave let us down), the sense of wonder, and the danger of modern life. As deLint writes fantasy, that danger is expressed in fantasy terms such as the Unseelie Court and dark manitou.

In deLint's fantasy, it is all too easy to end up in trouble whether you believe or not, but sometimes it is evident that those who choose to lose their sense of wonder are doing themselves an injury.

The Little Country— Charles deLint

This novel was nominated for a World Fantasy Award and it's easy to see why: the tale of Janey Little and a mysterious book by a friend of her grandfather's is good reading. Parallel to the tale of Janey is the story she is reading, where the Widow Pender can charm you into another body and steal part of your soul to sew upon her cloak, but the tale of Jodi's problems in the book is nothing to the real-life problems that start in Janey's life when she starts reading— because somebody wants the book, badly enough to ruin lives in the process.

The parallel tensions of the story and Janey's life hold the key, and, amusingly enough, a postscript to the book is designed to make you wonder which story was, in fact, the story in the book— or if they're supposed to be equally real. It is interesting that, even in a designated fantasy, we are apt to treat one of a set of tales as more real than the other.

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