Friday, April 14, 2006

A Little Beat For The Rhythm And Some Words To Read.

I'm enjoying reading for fun again. I know since I'm afraid my brain is going to atrophy, I should be reading Religious Studies books and articles, but I ODed on that in grad school, so I'd prefer to read novels.

I was having a conversation a couple of weeks ago where I was asked what kind of books I liked. One person said he liked mysteries. The other said she liked courtroom stuff. I was stuck. I have no idea what I would call what I read. The first thing I could say was "British." Is that even a genre? No, of course not. Or is it? I have read almost all of Nick Hornby's books, and the book I'm reading now features a review which says that it is "the American answer to High Fidelity." It is embarrassingly called Love Monkey. So far I'm digging it.

I just finished a young adult reader's book called Endymion Spring. It's by a Canadian author, Matthew Skelton, and I only knew about it because when it was published there was a hoo-hah made of it. I didn't know if it was a slow news day, or maybe it was genuinely worth reading, so I got it. It's set in Oxford, England, which immediately made me hope that it was as good as Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy. It wasn't.

Remember how Dickens was paid by the word? Skelton was obviously paid by the simile. I'm sure the word "like" was a close third in population after "the" and "and." It got a little tiresome.

The story went back a forth between a North American boy, Blake (Skelton was careful not to identify his nationality, thereby not alienating readers, and, of course, income), and Endymion Spring, a mute typesetter from the mid-15th century. Blake's mother is a visiting scholar at Oxford, his sister Duck (yeah - Duck), is smarter than he is, and he misses his father, who is still back in nondescript North America. Endymion is a pickpocket-cum-typesetter's apprentice to none other than Johann Gutenberg. There's some intrigue that Gutenberg has sold his soul to the devil in return for inventing a successful printing press. Oh, and the wealthy investor who plays the role of the devil? His name is Fust. Fust, people.

There's a connection between the two boys. There's a dragon. There're some poorly-integrated Christian dogmatic references. There's a bad guy who we don't know is a bad guy and a bad guy who's not a bad guy. I guess, to Skelton's credit, I didn't see the bad guy coming a mile away. I saw it a half mile away.

This book was not written for me. It was written for, I would say, a junior-high level student. I have to remember that. I thought, at times, the story was unclear and Skelton was sloppy with pronouns and antecedents, making it awkward to follow who was doing what. I'm not always the most diligent reader, though, so it could be my problem and not his. Nah - it's his.

The book has a really cool textured cover. It is not its only redeeming feature, but it will not go on my top-5 list for the year. As with anything else I review and own, ask if you want to borrow any of the titles listed above.

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