Reading Challenges

November 24, 2010

G.W. Dahlquist's The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters

Every literary review and author testimonial published regarding G.W. Dahlquist's The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters boasts a staggering list of overlapping genres or literary/cinematic references that the novel calls to mind.  Initially, I had my doubts about a book whose end papers boast the following descriptions: "Think of The Advenutres of Sherlock Holmes: its lurid plots, its murky pea-soupers.  Now apply the production values of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, commission a re-write by the Marquis de Sade." and "Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, Edgar Allen Poe and Alexandre Dumas with shades of Kubrick..."  I was dubious as to whether the book would live up to the standards of such formidable giants, some of whom I count amongst my absolute favorites.  Yet, now faced with the task of noting my own thoughts on the book, the only words that come to mind are more of those genre hybrids that inspire both curiosity and skepticism at the same time.  Victorian sci-fi.  Gothic alchemical psychoanalysis.  Erotic swashbuckling steampunk thriller.  

There, now that all that genre twisting is out of my system, read this fabulous book with its artful style that isn't afraid of a run-on sentence or two and beautifully compiled, copious adjectives. The writing is lovely, the characters--although unoriginal in their unlikely-misfits-thrown-together-from-all-social-casts--are fun and personable, and it's a damn good story to boot. The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters is a fantastic tale with rotating narrative accounts told by its three main characters who unexpectedly find themselves fighting a mysterious cabal whose coercion therapy holds great consequences for both the individuals involved and the fate of several nations. Stylistically, aspects of Philip Pullman and other contemporary British writers come to mind, though Dahlquist is an American playwrite.  There exists surprisingly little buzz or background information about the books, but I did dig up the following interview with the author via Powell's Books HERE.  A sequel entitled The Dark Volume has been published by Penguin that I happily acquired recently and will soon dive into.  The official website for the books is HERE.  I can't help but think what a great film the book would make.  As I was reading, I saw the story's action unfold in my mind as a series of cinematic sequences, but since the first book seemed to tank in terms of sales, I suppose a film is rather doubtful...

I leave you with another review that begins with yet more labels, but in the author's own words: "a mixture of HP Lovecraft, Sherlock Holmes and Victorian pornography..." HERE

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