Tuesday, July 06, 2004

I skimmed the last couple of chapters of the last book because my copy of Sean Stewart's new book, Perfect Circle had come in the mail and I was desperate to read it.

I love Sean Stewart. He is one of three full-blown authorcrushes I have (the other two being Neal Gaiman and Dave Eggars) and while it doesn't hurt that he's cute, it's mostly because he is such a fantastic writer. He has morphed from writing pretty straightforward science fiction and fantasy (Passion Play and Nobody's Son, respectfully) into writing mostly about an alternate North America where a "flood" of magic changed daily life. Those books are more abstract and difficult but well worth the effort because of their dreamy beauty. He also writes more straightforward, but just as wonderful, magic realism books set in present-day Texas. Perfect Circle is squarely in the latter camp. It's about an aging punk rocker (Stewart gets the music so, so right - there's a funny scene with Will's mother bringing him music in the hospital and another concerning cds that had me so enthralled that I almost felt physical pain when the character did) who is still in love with his ex-wife and trying to be a good father to their daughter, but who has just lost the latest in a series of dead-end, low-income jobs. Oh, and he sees ghosts. When he does a favor for a family member, he ends up being haunted by a malevolent ghost who threatens all that he values in the world.

I recommend reading this in one sitting (it's fairly short) because the mood of the story grows progressively darker and without any breaks, the book just... engulfs you. It's not oppressive, though. Will "Dead" Kennedy is a funny guy and his wisecracks help lighten the mood when it gets to be too much. The book can be read as merely a fantastic ghost story, but the real beauty of the story is how Will comes to realize his own status as a ghost in other people's lives and how he begins to change that.

This is one book I will be stopping people on the street to tell them to read. I want to buy 20 copies and hand them out to friends. In fact, I've already ordered another one so I can loan my second copy out. I want to corner our fiction selector in the bathroom and not let her leave until she promises to buy 12 copies and then I want to take them and put them in prominent places in the browsing library. And then I want to push them into our patron's hands and convince them to give it a chance.

It's so good, it almost made me want to move to Texas. Hee.

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