Slap Happy's Reviews > In the Night Garden

In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente
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Apr 02, 11


In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente is a novel that is told through a series of stories within stories, and each story runs for about four or five pages before there is a shift to the next one usually related by a character from that particular story, or steps back to the previous story which, of course, was told by one of its characters, and then that story continues once again. Oftentimes, up to five stories are running concurrently between each other. The novel cuts back and forth between innumerable stories steeped in myth and written by Valente with such vibrancy and grandiose language that, without that crucial influence of myth, the whole novel would immediately crash and burn in saccharine territory. But here, the writing is infused with a heaviness that sparks the full attention of the imagination and I really love that quality in myth-making. In addition, there is a labyrinthine depth to the proliferation of stories within the book that never becomes tedious or hard work for the reader. If anything, the desire to become sort of "lost," I guess I could say, is precisely what I wanted from my experience with In the Night Garden. It takes real talent to move around like that - with such brevity - in addition to having individual stories not complete their respective arches for a good length of time in a tidy sort of way - without frustrating readers. I suppose if you are the type who needs to keep everything straight in your head, you could keep a log of who's who and so on, but the delicious effect of being lost within myth would be sacrificed on the altar of your anality. This book is for the dreamers out there, who yearn for someplace to get lost in. Highly recommended.
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Alex (last edited Apr 23, 2011 06:52AM) (new)

Alex I kind of feel from the title of this book itself and from your description that this might be related to "Thousand And One Night" ?
I am usually getting a kick from finding analogy between themes of different books ...
It is fascinating to see that two different individuals (authors / writers in this case) are experiencing intuitively the same feelings, fantasies and dreams ...


Slap Happy Yep, that book was definitely a profound influence on this one.


message 3: by Alex (last edited Apr 25, 2011 03:28PM) (new)

Alex Black Cynocephalus wrote: "Yep, that book was definitely a profound influence on this one."

Then I would presume that prior of reading of this book the reader would greatly benefit from reading first the "Thousand And One Night" as a "prerequisite" ?


Slap Happy No, they aren't connected in any way.


message 5: by Alex (new)

Alex >No, they aren't connected in any way.

Not even style wise (I did not mean content of course) ?


Slap Happy Supposedly, they are similar in structure; in that, both are made up of many, many tales. As far as prose style, I couldn't tell you. I have read only In the Night Garden, and not the other book.


message 7: by Alex (new)

Alex The reason I was asking is that I lately became interested in cases when the *next* author/book is clearly *inspired* by the other (*previous* )author/book.
I am not saying that it stands on the border of the plagiarism ... but is the *next* author ethically obliged to somehow mention (say in the pre-word section) the connection ?


message 8: by Alex (new)

Alex On 4/26/11, Catherynne M. Valente wrote:
> The structure is inspired by AN, but it is not, in > fact, the same structure.
> The stories in 1001 do not come together to create > one big narrative--OT is
> building on that structure, not copying it.
> The stories, beyond naming a
> character Dinarzad in order to tip my hat to AN,
> are not inspired by that
> work.
>
> I'm not sure if I said so in the acknowledgments
> as it was 7 years ago now,
> but I've certainly said so in many interviews.
>
> Catherynne Valente


Slap Happy There you go, then. Straight from the source. She would know best.


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