While I have to say that I appreciated the versatility of the author's style - and especially the way he would nod to the reader as they followed hisWhile I have to say that I appreciated the versatility of the author's style - and especially the way he would nod to the reader as they followed his tales forward and backward through time - overall this book was not a fun, exciting, or stimulating read for me. Honestly, It was a chore to slog through. And I am a bit surprised that so many of my Goodreads friends, and especially my REAL-life friends thought so highly of it. It was okay, but only just.
Maybe this is a case of me not being in the right "place" or the right "time" or the right "mood" for this book. It happens... "I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready..."
Honestly? I'm glad it's over.
*wait* you know, I really liked the escape-from-the-retirement-home and Sonmi parts. For the record......more
This book was a simple, wonderfully-told tale. I loved almost everything about it - the characters, the writing, the world-building. I even loved theThis book was a simple, wonderfully-told tale. I loved almost everything about it - the characters, the writing, the world-building. I even loved the (view spoiler)[meta-fiction, which many other readers seemed to dislike. (hide spoiler)].
Talking animals, children on a quest to find home, villains and wizards. It wasn't groundbreaking - but it was just perfect in the way that storytelling is supposed to be. The type of storytelling that both 5 year olds and 95 year olds would enjoy. Until...
What I did not love, unfortunately, was the inexplicable, didactic "Blue Cutter" speech by the Wizard Swift at the end of this novel. All of a sudden, the book began to sound really political, slightly whiny, and very pedagogical in that over-the-top and unapologetic way that makes me hate authors. Why, all of a sudden, in a wonderful children's fantasy story - are we beating a point about literary revisionism over the main character's head with a mallet?
And! Not so fast, Mr. Willingham! But, you yourself are a literary revisionist - a re-imaginer, a re-doer of tales long ago told (re: Fables). So, where do you get off admonishing revisionists?
This whole thing made me wonder whether Willingham was just venting a long-held guilt about using well-known fairy tale characters to boost the success his own oeuvre... It got reeeeeeal meta.
I understand that, political and religious censorship hurts stories, Disneyfiction hurts stories, but I don't find what Willingham does too much different from what Uncle Walt does. Sure, his characters are cooler, sexier, and their backstories more closely resemble those of their Grimm-y beginnings - but, he takes a fair amount of liberties with the stories, too. Whether his modern-minded Fables were meant to be viewed his way, the Disney way, the Grimm way - is all subjective.
The wizard Swift's argument falls flat on me. And although the Wizard Swift is just a character, and not necessarily the mouthpiece of Willingham - when a story takes on the didactic, teaching-tone that this one did - I can only see the man behind the mask. Lectures like those shake the very foundation of the story that the author has built, and suspension of disbelief makes the walls of the story crumble all around it.
Thankfully, though, the story does not end there. In fact, it has such a *beautiful* epilogue that I almost forgot the shoddy ending completely.
I feel like doing a little revising of my own...I feel like taking a black Sharpie to the Wizard's pages-long monologue, x-ing out the parts I don't like, keeping a bit of it in so that we can infer the point, and making Down The Mysterly River the perfect 5-Star book that it was meant to be. :-)...more