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1000 Black Lines

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2 Books, 2 Reviews

[ 1 ]


The Dream Room
Fantastic coming of age story by Dutch novelist Marcel Moring. Set in the 1960s Netherlands, 12-year-old David Speijir spends the summer with his unemployed father building model airplanes. The toy doctor who lives below their flat pays them to assemble model airplanes. Mother works as a nurse but lost her job as well. So the entire family assembles model airplanes. Tension between his mother and father over their financial instability and insecure future reveal hidden stories of his father's World War II experience and his mother's role as a nurse.

I found this book at the library during my lunch hour and by sunset I had finished it. Part of this is due to the novel’s minimalist style that I enjoy for two reasons. One, the story focuses on the everyday details of living in the Netherlands during the 1960s. This is a small thing, but too often a polished setting is offered instead of a stuff-of-life depiction. Or the other extreme, a gritty, surrealistic setting exaggerates reality and becomes a cliché. Second, The simplicity of the style offers a lyricism that focuses on the tension of a household dealing with financial and emotional crisis.

My take away: If I were going to write a novel I’d use this as a model. The style is minimal and lyrical style presents a story that haunts me for days. Memorable scenes and passages continue to ebb and flow throughout my mind. In a loose--very loose--way the novel reminds me of Gibran’s Broken Wings.

[ 2 ]


Murder Mysteries
Definitely not your average comic book--or rather, graphic novel. But than what else would one expect from the mind of Neil Gaiman, celebrated creator of the Sandman comic book series, and hand of P. Craig Russell (artist behind The Ring of the Nibelung comics). If you are familiar with dark fantasy as a genre, you may very well enjoy this mythic tale. But this is not the genre's best example.

The premise is this: there has been a murder in Heaven. Or so it would seem, according to the narrator of the story--an LA vagrant who shares this story to a stranded Brit waiting to return to England. The angel Raguel, the Vengeance of the Lord, is assigned the task of discovering the murderer and exacting the vengeance of God. Lucifer, a prominent character in this mystery, is portrayed sympathetically for challenging the justice of God when the murderer is revealed and destroyed.

Keep in mind that this is a fantasy. Murder Mysteries is plagued with poor understanding of the source material--primarily the Christian bible. For example, the angels are portrayed as nude males with wings--imagine Barbie's Ken doll with wings. Thus offering a love scene between angels, which suggests gay porn. Truly this graphic novel is intended for mature readers. Further, Gaiman explores the theme of God as cosmic, divine killjoy--allowing one angel to kill another angel for his own good pleasure. This is not Gaiman's best literary offering which is a shame. As far as mysteries go, it lacks suspense.

If Gaiman changed the setting and obliquely referenced angels, then the story may have more strength. Themes of love, jealousy, God's seeming indifference could be explored deftly without the clumsy display of a poorly produced Heaven myth. Like Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, its agenda is not a mystery and it is fictional fantasy of what the author would like to believe.

My take away: I would expect this type of storytelling from a young writer busting his chops rather than an experienced writer. Some readers may find this writing bold and daring, but it is truly disappointing. Maybe that is the danger of writing fantasy--the lie of fiction is believed and the truth of fiction is denied to the point of absurdity.

Not one of his best books. Try reading Sandman instead.

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