Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden

by Catherynne Valente

I didn't enjoy this nearly as much as Palimpsest, but it's an interesting and significant work, and proves Valente is more than a one-hit wonder. This earlier work features a kind of redoing of Arabian Nights--a boy meets an orphan girl, and she tells him stories. The first of these has another character start a story within this, the second one launches a third, and so on for at least eight permutations, with frequent 'zooming in' and back out to follow different strands of the narrative, a character or event referred to in one story featuring more prominently in a latter one, and so forth. What the stories are involves fantasy takes on various fairy-tale like elements, with lots of deconstruction and re-imagining. For me it doesn't quite emerge as more than the sum of its parts, and it lacks the raw creativity that seems possible with this approach, but as a large narrative and a reflection on the nature of storytelling it's a worthwhile piece.

Similar and worse than: Vellum by Hal Duncan
Similar and better than: Animal Farm by George Orwell

No comments:

Post a Comment