He wants the payoff from this to tide him over until he can get established, and go legit. The job is supposed to be simple, a heist, yank some H from a truck, at least that was what he was told, but Ray smells a rat. There is more to this assignment than he was told. Blood is spilled and everything goes to hell from there.Ray had wanted this for so long and never known how to do it, something so simple, a visit to see his son, a new life away from the violence of the last ten years.
While it is tempting to settle on this, it is worth bearing in mind that this book was published in the UK under the title Dead if I Don't. I do not know why this change was made, and whether it was the author's idea or not, but I think the newer title is definitely a better fit.The thought of death still circling him, as it always did, as it always did, high up like a vulture on the wind.
I asked if I was barking up the wrong tree re the whole Shakespeare thing:The title change was a decision I made after it was pointed out to me that all of the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris start off with "Dead." So, since my book was quite a bit different from those I wanted something different for a title. The Carrion Birds title was the pick that I went with here in the US.
I asked if had any thoughts on casting:To be truthful I hadn't thought about the Shakespeare connection until you brought it up. But that's not to say it isn't a large part of The Carrion Birds. The origins for much of what I write are usually a bit chaotic and hard to place. My writing just kind of "pops to mind" for lack of a better term. And it's only after reflecting a bit on it that I start to get a feel for the origins.
I remembered re-reading Macbeth in the course of a night during a break I was taking from the novel. I was a little out of it and I was trying to find a way back into The Carrion Birds and something in there must have clicked for me. I had also been reading James Dickey's To the White Sea and there is a definite sense of tragedy (or tragic karma depending on how you look at it) in that book. Plus a very early draft of TCB dealt with a sort of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid kind of feel. All that paying for your sins stuff. Which plays pretty well in TCB.
I should also say that a lot of my education in college came down to how many Shakespeare lit classes I could take, as well as all the electives I could fit in with film classes on Hitchcock. I like to say that Graham Greene has always been the biggest influence on how I put a novel together, but thinking on it now I'm starting to realize when I first came to the daunting task of putting a large work together, I fell back on my knowledge of plays and films.
With this in mind I'm arguing for Ray as a sort of "exceptional being." He's the son of one of the richest, former oilmen in the valley and in that way he is a sort of royal in the small scale of this community. So perhaps I was channeling some Shakespeare after all.
Had he considered leaving Memo to his dark devices instead of the fate he wrote for him?As for casting, that's one loaded question for me. I like your choices. Definitely two actors I would get behind in a heartbeat. But personally I try not to think on it too much. I worry I might start seeing those faces when I jump in on some bit of writing. And it might change how I lay out my characters or what decisions or actions I want them to accomplish. It's just better for me if I don't get too close with them. Who knows when I'll have to kill them off...
Finally, what's coming up?He's such a bastard of a character. I feel like left to his own devices he would have ended up the way he does no matter what happens. So I guess I could have let him be, but what fun would that have been?
Thanks so much to Urban for offering real quantities of his time, and I guess I really should get cracking on his prior novel.I try to get in at least five pages a day on the next project. And that project being a sequel to my first novel, The Terror of Living, makes the stress just that much higher. I loved my first novel and to be working on a sequel to it is exciting but also horrifying. I want what I'm writing now to outdistance what I've written before. I want each new project to be better than the last and so coming back to these characters I guess I just want to do them justice in the most badass way I can.
In The Silent World, Graham Joyce’s eighteenth book and 2011 World Fantasy Award and British Fantasy Award nominee, a young couple, Zoe and Jake, on a skiing holiday in the Pyrenees, are caught in an avalanche. Jake frees himself and digs Zoe out. But when they make their way back to their hotel, on the outskirts of Saint-Bernard-en-Haut near the French-Spanish border, everyone is gone, from the slopes, from the hotel, from the town.True silence. The freezing of all sounds. It wasn’t possible in the modern world, to listen to the sound of true silence. Perhaps not even in the ancient world, either: there was wind in the desert; insects in the depths of the forest; wave activity in the middle of the ocean. Nature did not tolerate silence. Only death accepted silence; and there was silence here.
They face some crucial questions concerning who they are.“I asked if you thought we’re trapped here, or if we’ve been freed here.”
“Depends on which way you choose to see it.”
“Exactly. There isn’t a right answer, is there? It depends on how we choose to see it. If we choose to see it as if we’re trapped here then our situation is tragic. If we choose to see that we’ve been liberated here, then it’s the opposite.”
“Comic isn’t the opposite of tragic.”
“I mean to say. If we choose to see it the right way, we could have the most magical time here. You and me. Together and alone. We have warmth, shelter, food, the best wine, skiing on wonderful slopes together. It’s paradise: if we choose to accept it. If we choose to call it that.“
Are we more than the sum of our memories? Do we cease to be who we are/were if/when those memories fade? As someone with a rather unreliable internal hard drive, that is a question with resonance. Am I less myself today because bits of my experience have been sloughed off like dry skin? Are you less yourself? Later, worried about Jake’s fade, Zoe offers an alternative.It was true that they had taken many skiing holidays together and after so many it did become difficult to distinguish some of them; but it disturbed her that he couldn’t remember any of it.
“Where has it gone, that holiday?” he said. “How come I can remember others but not that one? I mean, it’s not like my memory is a DVD that fell behind the cupboard. It’s just gone.”
“Doesn’t matter,” she said.
“It damn well does matter. What are we if we’re not the sum of our memories?”
There is fun to be had with this book, and it is a fast read, particularly considering the core existential subject matter. What do the crows on the police car signify? How about the masked men that appear? Or the large black horses? This combination of serious content and surface gamesmanship made this a fascinating read. We may not spare a lot of time thinking about the things that Zoe and Jake confront but maybe we should, if only we could block out all that bloody noise.She was deeply worried about him, but she said, “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because everything you can see or touch or hear or smell has a story attached to it; a story I can tell you. If you say bacon, I can tell you a story. If you say snow, I can tell you a dozen different stories. This is what we are: a collection of stories that we share, in common. This is what we are to each other.”
Lest one imagine a contemplative nerd, GJ still plays goal for the England Writers Football team."My grandmother was one of these old women who used to have dreams and visions and messages arriving. She would fall asleep in a chair, there would be a knock on the door, she would go to the door, someone strange would come to the door and deliver a message. And then she would wake up again in her chair. Now my mother and my aunties told me these stories over and over again. But they just lived with it side by side. They didn't fight it as in a fantasy or horror film. They didn't have to overcome it. It didn't get worse and worse and worse. They just accepted this mystery and then they cooked the dinner."
But there is a bit too much telling, on top of showing. Kobasic has fun feathering her novel with bird imagery. My copy arrived with an actual black feather in it, a lovely, light-hearted touch. I hope that in subsequent volumes there is some more payload on the actual details of early missions in Brazil. I believe that is the plan.“You’ve been a bad girl,” Esperanca said, with a lazy smile. “Got a lot of fuckage on you.”
“What I’m getting at is that you fucked over a lot of people. Fuckage…like baggage. The depravity that you drag around with you like a ball and chain.”
So in a way, despite moving from Pennsylvania to the Boston area, one could say that in News from Heaven, Jennifer Haigh returns to Bakerton. But in a very real sense she never left.I didn’t, for a long time, imagine publishing them as a collection. I wrote them one at a time, in between novels or drafts of novels. And after about ten years of this, I realized that they belonged together in a book.
As with Baker Towers, most of the action in the book takes place in Bakerton, with a few forays beyond, and the great majority of her characters are women. There are ten stories in the collection. All of them will make you feel. Four of the first five look upward, in their titles at least, while the latter five seem to look down. There are moments of awakening, moments of glorious freedom and possibility that shine through this sooty, declining place, lives that find meaning, whether real or faux, whether passing or permanent. But it seems that for most of the inhabitants, whether they remain in Bakerton or have sought greener pastures elsewhere, the news from on high is that they have to get by with what they can and not look for a paradise on earth. That said, Haigh’s writing is heaven-sent, her ability to portray real, breathing people is celestial and her talent for portraying place is rapturous.…good fiction always begins with complex, well-developed characters, and to write those characters I have to know where they came from. I imagine them as children, their fears and frustrations, the rooms where they slept at night, and I find it all so interesting that I have to write about it. I have come to accept that — in my hands, anyway — every story becomes a family story.
Did they or didn’t they?There are many words for what she’d felt as she watched him sleep, many words in many languages, but the one she knows is longing
Years later, after marrying, living abroad and having written a book, Regina learns a tragic secret about her aunt, and the cost of her own separateness.My uncles…were like all the men I knew then, soybean and dairy farmers who spoke rarely and then mainly about the weather. Yet unlikely as it seemed, I accepted that these men had the power to transform. My aunts had been pretty, lively girls—one stubborn, one mischievous, one coquettish, according to my mother—though somehow all three had matured into exactly the same woman: plump, cheerful, adept at pie making and counted cross-stitch, smelling of vanilla and Rose Milk hand lotion. That I would someday become that same woman terrified me. My only greater fear was that nobody would choose me, and I would become nothing.
It is not long before Sandy and statuesque, red-headed Vera are an item, to the chagrin of Vera’s much older husband. Of course this complicates Sandy’s relationship with a young Canadian cutie, who is looking for more from him that he is interested in giving.She had hired him off the street. Bleary, hungover, he’d wandered in for breakfast after an all-night card game. A sign in the window said HELP WANTED. Can you cook? Vera Gold asked.
He looked down at his greasy plate. Better than this? Sure. You bet.
And across it all he ponders his family back east, and the odds of life taking a positive turn.”That’s where I used to work,” he said, pointing. The familiar sign filled him with an old longing, the looping S with its tall graceful curves
The Sands A PLACE IN THE SUN
“Is that where we’re going?”
For a moment he was tempted. The town had a short memory, and seven years had passed. Still he wouldn’t chance it. He’d been known there, known and recognized. Sandy from the Sands. It wasn’t worth the risk.
Thrift introduces Agnes Lubicki, a nurse who has lived her life in service to others and found herself with no way to have anything for herself. Until a man enters her life, and Agnes gives up everything for him. Is this what she’d been saving for?She is thinking not of his death but of that earlier departure, his disappearance like a magic trick, as dizzying and complete. His manic and determined flight from Bakerton, from the family, from her…and yet Joyce could never leave them [her family], run off to California or to Africa, as her younger siblings have done. Freedom is, to her, unimaginable, as exotic as walking on the moon.
and laterThe wino’s voice catches Jonathan’s ear. It’s dissonant, all flats and sharps with no clear words.
Fadi is a bodega owner, invested in helping his community, and he works to try to unravel the mystery of what happened to Laura Palmer June Giotta. (and what is going on across the street from his shop with the owner of that place and the wino who seems always to be hanging out there?)Nearly every day Jonathan tells Fadi about a piece of music that’s perfectly suited to the moment. Last week he said, “It’s an afternoon for Gershwin. Mostly sunny, a little snappy, but with a hint of rain.” And two evenings ago he asked. “Did you see the sunset? Only Philip Glass could write a sunset like that.”
Cree’s mother communes daily with her late husband. And the neighborhood itself echoes with the change from is to was:There wasn’t a goddamned night on the inside when I wasn’t woken by somebody haunted by the person he dropped. Ghosts aren’t the dead. They’re those the dead left behind. Stay here long enough, you’ll become one of them—another ghost haunting the Hook.
I expect that by including references to sundry locations that have now moved on to another realm, Pochoda is linking the deaths and births on the landscape with the more human ghosts that inhabit this world. All these incredible characters come to life in this book, even though they are walking through a place as haunted as any graveyard.As he crosses from this abandoned corner of the waterside back over to the Houses he becomes aware of the layers that form the Hook—the projects built over the frame houses, the pavement laid over the cobblestones, the lofts overtaking the factories, the grocery stores overlapping the warehouses. The new bars cannibalizing the old ones. The skeletons of forgotten buildings—the sugar refinery and the dry dock—surviving among the new concrete bunkers being passed off as luxury living. The living walk on top of the dead—the water front dead, the old mob dead, the drug war dead—everyone still there. A neighborhood of ghosts.
Really, what could possibly be added to enhance that?The women grow grungier and sexier the later it gets. Soon they bear no resemblance to the morning commuters who will tuck themselves into bus shelters along Van Brunt on Monday, polished and brushed and reasonably presentable to the world outside Red Hook. Nighttime abrades them, tangles their hair and chips their nails. Colors their speech. At night, the hundreds of nights they’ve passed the same way begin to show, revealed in their hollowed cheeks and rapid speech. Jonathan wonders how long it takes for their costumes to become their clothes, their tattoos their birthmarks. When will they let the outside world slip away and forget to retrieve it?
It seemed to me that the neighborhood of Red Hook was supremely significant here. “Was it your intent to mirror the ghostliness of the human life in Red Hook with the architectural changes that have taken place between 2006 and now, IKEA in place of the crumbling dockyard, Fairway due but not yet arrived, razing of the sugar factory, et al, or was that a happy coincidence?”A writing teacher of mine once told me that names should be simple but also stand out. Cree (Acretius) is the name of a guy I met when I was 11. He was older (19), black, and represented a teenage world that I couldn't really imagine. It just stuck with me. Val was originally called Viv which seemed too old. Jonathan (based on someone named William who really looks like a Jonathan) was named for that reason and after a music teacher I had in high school.
And as for the specifics of place in Red HookI truly meant to capture the ghostliness of Red Hook…Red Hook was as much a character for me as any of the real live people. In my first draft I was writing about the neighborhood more than the people in it, which wasn't so hot in terms of plot.
I lived, as I mentioned on Pioneer and Van Brunt. The Greek's cafe was downstairs and Heba / Hafiz deli was across the street. There's a Catholic School on Summit and an abandoned one on Henry (I think) that I used as inspiration for St. Bernardette's. Though in all honestly, some of the interior of St. Bernardette's is based on my school, St. Ann's on Pierrepont St. However, the boat was on Lorraine St closer to the projects. How the hell did it get there? That was super strange. It's so far from the water. The Bait & Tackle most certainly is the Dockyard. In fact, I'll be doing a reading there this summer. I can't wait.
As for what is next for IvyI really made up all the artwork in the book --- Ren's murals etc. There's no basis in real Red Hook graffiti there. Maybe soon!
Best of luck, Ivy. Although with talent like hers, I doubt she will need much.I'm in LA now and it's getting harder and harder to write about Brooklyn. I am tooling around with a book set here. Wish me luck!
Not only are opportunities limited in the world of work, the range of the possible in romance is likewise narrow:Bakerton did this to people: slowly, invisibly, it made them smaller, compressed by living where little was possible, and where the ceiling was very low.
The strength of the novel, only Haigh’s second, is her characters. Male and female (well, mostly female), these people are made real. Their desires are made as clear to us as they are to themselves, and we feel an investment in how things turn out for them. Like moviegoers loudly telling the little girl in the horror movie not to go back for her dropped teddy bear. (No, no, don’t do that. He’ll get you!) Or cheering when something right wins out over the opposition of time. (You go, girl!)It was, she reflected, a dangerous pastime, mooning over the handsome, clever men on the screen. It doomed you to disappointment; it made you expect too much. [She] had never been in love, but felt herself capable of it. She could love Fred Astaire or Clark Gable or Errol Flynn, an elegant, cultivated fellow who wore wonderful clothes and possessed all sorts of hidden talents, who sang and danced and even fought in a way that looked beautiful; who even when he drank was witty and articulate and gentle and wise. The harder job was loving what men really were—soldiers and miners, gruff and ignorant; louts who communicated mainly by cursing, who couldn’t tell you anything about life that you didn’t already know.
The environment in which sisters Marnie and Nelly find themselves does indeed look poisoned beyond hope. How can anything survive? This is working class Glasgow and the girls are alone. The book opens with one of the better first paragraphs I have read.What on earth is happening to the bees? They say it is an ecological disaster, an environmental holocaust. Every day I wonder what the blazes can be causing this abuse of our ecosystem. Chemicals I hear, pesticides. I don’t understand it, really I don’t. Our planet faces extinction and yet nobody seems to care. Am I afraid? You bet your bottom dollar I am.
Marnie’s little sister Helen, aka Nelly, has gone and done it. Put the pillow over her father, Gene’s, drugged out face and completed for him the self-destruction he had made his life work. He would abuse her and Marnie no more. Mom, Izzy, made another in a lifetime of awful decisions and headed off to the shack to add her name to the list of those who have gone before. Consider it addition by subtraction. No more need to worry about all potential food money going up noses, into veins or being poured from amber bottles. No more concern about other sorts of abuse, too. But if the authorities find out, the girls will be separated for sure, tossed back into foster care, with who knows what sorts. The solution? A quiet back-yard burial. Who is to take care of these two?Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved.
Author Lisa O’Donnell grew up in public housing to very young parents. In an interview with Powell’s (link at bottom) she talks about the Thatcher-era environment in which she was raised. The primary inspiration for this story came from her days in Scotland, but they were reinforced when she saw similar horrors after she crossed the pond and was living in East LA, children put in charge of children, wastrel parents, childhood denied.I suppose I’ve always taken care of us really. I was changing nappies at five years old and shopping at seven, cleaning and doing laundry as soon as I knew my way to the launderette and pushing Nelly about in her wee buggy when I was six. They used to call me wee Maw around the towers, that’s how useless Gene and Izzy were. They just never showed up for anything and it was always left to me and left to Nelly when she got old enough. They were never there for us, they were absent, at least now we know where they are.
Books exist in time and place and our experience of them is affected by the specific time and place in which we encounter them. Sometimes an uplifting or inspiring book can change the path of a life that has wandered onto a wrong course. Sometimes a book, discovered early on, can form part of the foundation of who we are. Or, discovered late, can offer insight into the journey we have taken to date. Sometimes a book is just a book. But not The Hobbit. Not for me. In January, 2013, I pulled out my forty-year old copy in anticipation of seeing the recently released Peter Jackson film. It is a substantial book, heavy, not only with its inherent mass, but for the weight of associations, the sediment of time. The book itself is a special hard-cover edition published in 1973, leather bound, in a slipcase, the booty of new love from that era. The book, while victim to some internal binding cracks (aren't we all?) is still in decent shape, unlike that long-vanquished relationship. Not surprising. I had read the story six times and been there and back again with this particular volume five.In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
It is an easy, and perhaps a dangerous thing to indulge in this joyful vice of Walt Whitman’s, in which he captures the ecstasy inherent in the new. That would be new to the observer, for the most part, as the thing learned, the newness experienced, had usually lain in wait for that discoverer, possibly still glistening from birth, but more likely in wait an untold age. Easy, because it pleases the eye, the soul, the imagination, to learn, to see the new and to see the familiar, anew. The danger is the highwayman of piqued interest, robbing our currency of attention and diverting it down myriad unexpected paths. Literary Brooklyn, as it must, begins with Walt Whitman, a literary lion king, with the mane to prove it.Beginning my Studies
BEGINNING my studies, the first step pleas’d me so much,
The mere fact, consciousness—these forms—the power of motion,
The least insect or animal—the senses—eyesight—love;
The first step, I say, aw’d me and pleas’d me so much,
I have hardly gone, and hardly wish’d to go, any farther,
But stop and loiter all the time, to sing it in extatic songs.
Thus opens William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice, and it tells the tale of why many of us have settled here.“In those days cheap apartments were almost impossible to find in Manhattan, so I had to move to Brooklyn.”
P.S.Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes! how curious you are to me!
On the ferry-boats, the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more
curious to me than you suppose;
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence, are more to me, and more in
my meditations, than you might suppose
From Crossing Brooklyn Ferry - W. Whitman
In the East River, between Queens and the Bronx, and within sight of the largest penal colony in the world, Riker’s Island, lie two tiny islands, South Brother and North Brother. These siblings are currently owned by the New York City Parks Department, and are preserved as a wildlife sanctuary. North Brother now sports a handful of decaying buildings. One must receive special permission to visit, as there is very real concern about the possibility of visitors plunging through rotted out structures. It was famous in its time as a bar-less cage for one particular bird, Mary Mallon, more widely known as Typhoid Mary. Fever is Mary Beth Keane’s novelization of the life of Ms. Mallon, or at least the part of it that gained some notoriety in early 20th century New York City.Before you start reading let’s see those hands. Both sides please. You call that clean? Are you kidding me? I’ve seen cleaner hands in mud wrestling. Try using soap this time, and I don’t want to see anything but skin under those fingernails. Go ahead. I’ll wait. (A very large foot tap, tap, taps. Eyes rise to scan the ceiling. A puff of exasperation is emitted…waiting) Let’s see. Both sides. All right. I guess that will have to do. Sit down. Go ahead.
Keane opens with Mary being carted away by the Department of Health, itself created in response to the waves of epidemics that followed the Civil War. We look forward and behind from here. Mary was an Irish immigrant, arriving in the US at age 14. It would appear that she brought with her more than just an eagerness to work and some skill as a cook. Her first job was as a laundress, but she found herself handling cooking duties when the usual cook became ill. Over the years, Mary acquired a reputation as a pretty good cook, but it also happened that dozens of people for whom Mary prepared food became ill and some died. She worked in many households, and while not everyone with whom she came into contact became infected, enough did for her to come to the attention of a Doctor George Soper, a sanitary engineer.
He worked as a lawyer (which at the time did not require a law degree) and a preacher and had a rather permanent and cavalier attitude toward paying his bills. I guess in that way he was a harbinger of Republicans of a later era. Guiteau was in DC seeking a political appointment from the president, just compensation, in his mind, for the assistance he had given to the campaign. He had suffered delusions of grandeur for a long time. His own family had sought to have him put away. But the slippery bastard fled before they could complete his committal.Although the commune promised the pleasures of complex marriage, to Guiteau’s frustration, “The Community women,” one of Oneida’s members would later admit, “did not extend love and confidence toward him.” In fact, so thorough was his rejection among women that they nicknamed him “Charles Gitout.” He bitterly complained that, while at the commune, he was “practically a Shaker.”
Today’s party could probably be counted on to insist that property rights trump all and turn away any attempt to get rid of such a peculiar institution. So Garfield was a pretty good guy, remarkably, considering that the Civil War had ended less than 16 years prior, acceptable to both the South and the North, a brilliant, Renaissance man.For freed slaves, an impoverished and, until recently, almost entirely powerless segment of the population, Garfield represented freedom and progress, but also, and perhaps more importantly, dignity. As president, he demanded for black men nothing less than what they wanted desperately for themselves—complete and unconditional equality, born not of regret but respect.
Harry had risked his life to provide for his family, but the haves seem at a loss when faced with a loss of workless income.“The eternal jackpot. I’m playing a machine now that doesn’t give jackpots anymore. Only tonight I just happened to think about it. Usually I don’t think about it."
One particular wanderer in here is Richard Gordon, a character clearly intended as a Hemingway stand-in, a writer of renown in a troubled marriage, something Ernest knew a little something about. There is a local married lady who “collects writers as well as their books,” disdaining a husband who may be impotent.the money on which it was not worth while for him to live was one hundred and seventy dollars more a month than the fisherman Albert Tracy had been supporting his family on…
So opens The Old Man and the Sea, the book, we hear tell, that convinced the Nobel committee to reel in EGH with the biggest literary hook of them all. Santiago is an old, unlucky, but skilled Cuban fisherman. He has an able assistant, the young Manolin. The lad is not a blood relation, but he sees a father figure in the old man, and he may be a younger reflection of the old man himself. Maybe Santiago sees himself in the young man and takes some strength from that. Like the best sort of father, he teaches the boy to fish rather than fishing for him. But Santiago’s ill fortune has marked him as someone to be avoided and Manolin’s parents have put the kibosh on their professional association. The old man is determined to salvage his reputation, and his honor, and bring in some money by going farther out than the other fishermen are willing to sail, in search of redemption. No herald calls him to action. No dramatic event sparks him to excessive risk. It is an internal challenge that powers his engines. But it is a quest nonetheless on which Santiago embarks.He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. In the first forty days a boy had been with him. But after forty days without a fish the boy’s parents had told him that the old man was not definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky.
One might be forgiven for seeing here a possible reference to catholic communion and the relative merit of so many of those who receive. Is the fish (a Christian symbol if there ever was one) meant to be Jesus or some other form of deity, as Moby was?Then he was sorry for the great fish that had nothing to eat and his determination to kill him never relaxed in his sorrow for him. How many people will he feed, he thought. But are they worthy to eat him? No, of course not. There is not one worthy of eating him from the manner of his behaviour and his great dignity.
You won’t find Christmasland on any map, but it exists. Charley drives a 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith. Not exactly a sleigh, but useful for transporting Charley and his goodies here and there. Actually, it is more a case of him bringing the children to his dubious gifts than it is of the gifts being brought to the children. Charlie has been snatching children for a long time. So we have the goodie and we have the baddies.Bing’s yard was full of tinfoil flowers, brightly colored and spinning in the morning sunlight. The house was a little pink cake of a place, with white trim and nodding lilies. It was a place where a kindly old woman would invite a child in for gingerbread cookies, lock him in a cage, fatten him for weeks, and finally stick him in the oven. It was the House of Sleep.
The King family seems to have figured out how to make us care for their heroes, and Hill has done a nice job of that here. Vic is sympathetic, not just for her courage and determination, but for her failings as well. And there is plenty of failing to go around here, but also generous doses of redemption.“Everyone lives in two worlds,” Maggie said, speaking in an absent-minded way while she studied her letters. “There’s the real world, with all its annoying facts and rules. In the real world there are things that are true and things that aren’t. Mostly the real world s-s-s-suh-sucks. But everyone also lives in the world inside their own head. An inscape, a world of thought. In a world made of thought—in an inscape--every idea is a fact. Emotions are as real as gravity. Dreams are as powerful as history. Creative people, like writers, and Henry Rollins, spend a lot of their time hanging out in their thoughtworld. S-s-strong creatives, though, can use a knife to cut the stitches between the two worlds, can bring them together. Your bike. My tiles. Those are our knives.”