It is winter, and I have to resist the urge to go into hibernation with every cell. But with a sore throat, I give in and spend the days in bed drifting between sleeping and reading, reading and sleeping and dreaming.
Rain clicks onto the roof and on a wicker chair across the room, the Beard plays the banjo. The wood stove crackles, and I sigh. Sore throat or not, I feel perfectly content to be just where I am, in this skin, under this blanket and this roof.
Wrapped in four down blankets, propped up on pillows, tea steaming beside me, and hankies within arm’s reach, I read for hours, taking breaks to stare longingly, excitedly at the shelf of unread books above the bed, to fade into dreams of adventure stories not yet written down on any page.
In bed I forget about logging onto the computer and writing. Without any particular story to tell you, I thought I would tell you about the stories I’ve read recently, hoping a few of you might read them too, and tell me what fills your own rainy fall nights.
Should you for some reason decide to purchase any of these books, then pretty pretty please do it through the links I’ve provided at the bottom of the page. Because if you’re going to buy something anyway, amazon might as well share a bit of the profit with the click clack gorilla, right? Right. So. To the books!
Die Stadt der Träumenden Bücher—The City of Dreaming Books as it’s called in its English translation—is the kind of book that I, literary geek that I am, had fallen for before I’d even parted its pages. The cover, a horizon of books as far as the eye can see. And the first page? More books, and a lovely poem about books, dreaming of the days when they were trees, dreaming of being read. Love. At. First. Sight.
The plot follows an aspiring young author (Hildegunst von Mythenmetz) to the city of Buchhaim, the city of dreaming books, and a place where books are dangerous, poisonous, and sometimes alive. On the search for the author of an unsigned manuscript, he finds himself in catacombs beneath the city, battling fantastical creatures and, well, books.
An extra bonus for all the literature geeks out there is that all of Moers invented authors are permutations of real-world authors. And that the book was actually written by Mythenmetz himself, translated by Moers, and filled with amusing footnotes about words and concepts that, not existing in his own language, Moers had to reinvent or translate around.
Moers imagination is as delightful as J.K. Rowling’s, and, much to my approval, generally more morbid. Morbid fantasy meets adventure meets literary humor. You, and by you I really mean me, just can’t go wrong with a formula like that.
Until ten minutes ago, I didn’t know that Walter Moers—who is an extremely popular German comic- and novel-writer, had been translated in English. I may have even, as late as last night, rather snobbishly insisted that he couldn’t have possibly been translated into English because I hadn’t hear of him until recently. Not in all my years of fantasy geek-dom or book clerk-dom (oh Waldenbooks…) had I once heard his name. Then I came to Germany and he was everywhere, and so I read The Thirteen and a Half Lives of Captain Blue Bear (which I’d recommend starting with, should you decide to dip your toes into any of these fine adventures) and Rumo And His Miraculous Adventures and became immediately addicted.
Stock up for winter, dear friends, and I will cross my fingers that the English translations are just as good as the originals.