Summer reading book #3: Catherynne Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. (I keep wanting to type in Circumvented, which is funny in its own way.) Brief review: recommended!
Slightly longer review -- I can understand why it won so many awards. This was a romp and a delight; if you liked _The Wizard of Oz_ (the book), you will like this. It's a bit more brutal than Baum, but that's all to the good, I think. If it weren't for the edge, you might get lost in all the clever inventiveness -- the sharp edge is what keeps you grounded in the character and story. I read it fast, with much pleasure, and am now going off to order the sequel. (The book stands on its own just fine, though.)
And now I'm seriously tempted to write a serial of my own, plumped full of magic and misery. One of the dangers of being a writer -- every time you read a book you really enjoy, there's a good chance you'll be overcome with the desperate urge to try to write one just like it. But don't worry -- I will lie down, until the frenzy passes.
"Once upon a time, a girl named September grew very tired indeed of her parents� house, where she washed the same pink-and-yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day, slept on the same embroidered pillow, and played with the same small and amiable dog. Because she had been born in May, and because she had a mole on her left cheek, and because her feet were very large and ungainly, the Green Wind took pity on her and flew to her window one evening just after her twelfth birthday. He was dressed in a green smoking jacket, and a green carriage-driver�s cloak, and green jodhpurs, and green snowshoes. It is very cold above the clouds in the shantytowns where the Six Winds live.
�You seem an ill-tempered and irascible enough child,� said the Green Wind. �How would you like to come away with me and ride upon the Leopard of Little Breezes and be delivered to the great sea, which borders Fairyland? I am afraid I cannot go in, as Harsh Airs are not allowed, but I should be happy to deposit you upon the Perverse and Perilous Sea.�
�Oh, yes!� breathed September, who disapproved deeply of pink-and-yellow teacups and also of small and amiable dogs.
�Well, then, come and sit by me, and do not pull too harshly on my Leopard�s fur, as she bites.�
September climbed out of her kitchen window, leaving a sink full of soapy pink-and-yellow teacups with leaves still clinging to their bottoms in portentous shapes. One of them looked a bit like her father in his long coffee-colored trench coat, gone away over the sea with a rifle and gleaming things on his hat. One of them looked a bit like her mother, bending over a stubborn airplane engine in her work overalls, her arm muscles bulging. One of them looked a bit like a squashed cabbage. The Green Wind held out his hand, snug in a green glove, and September took both his hands and a very deep breath. One of her shoes came loose as she hoisted herself over the sill, and this will be important later, so let us take a moment to bid farewell to her prim little mary jane with its brass buckle as it clatters onto the parquet floor. Good-bye, shoe! September will miss you soon."
Oh! If you like this, you should also read Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories