Adventures in Reading

Walter Moers’ The City of Dreaming Books
December 3, 2007, 1:58 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

yarnspinner.jpgI am having more trouble today writing a post than I normally have. For the most part, my Internet writings are a result of rather spontaneous writings that I post (and often later return to and cringe at typos and where my mind was traveling too fast for my fingers). However, today for whatever reason I am struggling to say anything. So here goes nothing!

The above paragraph was my lame attempt to comment on one of the many themes that twines through Walter Moers’ The City of Dreaming Books (which I did finish last month but am only just getting around to writing about) – the most recent addition to Moers world of Zamonia. In his fantasy tale, Optimus Yarnspinner (a Lindwormer or dinosaur) inherits perhaps the world’s most perfect short story or essay. And what is this essay? A brilliant piece discussing writer’s block that produces nearly every reaction conceivable in its audience. However, the author of this splendid piece is anonymous and Optimus travels to the legendary city of Bookholm to discover who penned such an important piece.

This is where the story begins and Moers takes his audience through a spectacular world that is sure to thrill any lover of books. The City of Dreaming Books is a book about books, about publishing, about authors, about book reviews, about the canon, about forgotten books, and about practically anything book related you can think of. The reference to “dreaming books” in the title refers to Moers idea that dormant books, or books not being read, are dreaming of being read.

I have not been so excited about a fantasy series in ages. Earlier in the year I read Terry Pratchett’s most recent book, which was enjoyable but seemed to lack some of the zeal of his earlier novels. I also picked up Piers Anthony on a whim and was greatly disappointed. Unlike many fantasy authors in my experience, Moers seems to spend the perfect amount of time on story development. He never becomes boring or tedious and never leaves the story under developed.

On a more serious note, Moers also proffers a rather scathing criticism of the publishing industry that threads throughout the book. Upon reaching Bookholm, Optimus meets the arch-nemesis of books: Smyke, who wants to dumb down literature to mediocrity, which of course means that Optimus inheritance is entirely unacceptable. In addition to my excitement for this book, Moers also does his own illustrations (note the first image in this post). Every few pages has a beautiful illustration that creates a much more tangible Zamonia.

The City of Dreaming Books is an engaging read and I went ahead and purchased an earlier book by Moers. This is definitely an author that has made my recommendation list.


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