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Book Report: Horns and Wrinkles

Your Humble Blogger chose Horns and Wrinkles off the library shelf because it looked good. No, I wasn’t judging it by the cover. I was judging a book by the spine. Score.

It’s a terrific book, Joseph Helgerson’s first, and although it does smack just a trifle of every-good-idea-I-ever-had, I am still hoping to remember his name long enough to pick up his second. Which of course is part of why I blog these books.

There’s a certain sense of whimsy in this book that really appeals to me, a kind of light-hearted surrealism. Orange high-top sneakers are an important and magical place to store secret messages and so on. River trolls sift sand through a screen door. Silver dollars gossip about where they’ve been. The great rock troll, Bodacious Deepthink, is digging a mine to find the moon. Nasty little boys turn into rhinoceroses. Rhinocerices. Rhinos.

I’m not sure I can define the kind of thing I’m talking about. There are some books (Garth Nix’s, f’r’ex) that have wild and arresting images that follow a kind of ruthless internal logic. There are books that have fantastical elements that change our world only very slightly, and that draw their evocative power from that slight difference. And there are books that have a kind of cockeyed fecundity that resists predictability by sheer… zaniness? I don’t think that’s the right word. Un Lun Dun is a great example of it, but I don’t think it’s the New Weird. I haven’t read enough of the New Weird to know, really, but I get the sense that it’s somewhat grimmer, generally, than the kind of thing I’m thinking of. I’m not thinking of an author throwing in something grotesque because it taps into our deepest fears and myths. I’m thinking of an author throwing in something silly because, well, why not? The surrealism of Joan Miro, not Salvador Dali. Except that’s a bad analogy. Feh.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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