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Original Essays | June 20, 2014

Lauren Owen: IMG The Other Vampire



It's a wild and thundery night. Inside a ramshackle old manor house, a beautiful young girl lies asleep in bed. At the window, a figure watches... Continue »
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    The Quick

    Lauren Owen 9780812993271

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Little, Big (P.S.)

by

Little, Big (P.S.) Cover

 

 

Excerpt

Chapter One

Men are men, but Man is a woman.
—Chesterton

On a certain day in June 19--, a young man was making his way on foot northward from the great City to a town or place called Edgewood, that he had been told of but had never visited. His name was Smoky Barnable, and he was going to Edgewood to get married; the fact that he walked and didn't ride was one of the conditions placed on his coming there at all.

 

Somewhere to Elsewhere

Though he had left his City room early in the morning it was nearly noon before he had crossed the huge bridge on a little-used walkway and come out into the named but boundaryless towns on the north side of the river. Through the afternoon he negotiated those Indian-named places, usually unable to take the straight route commanded by the imperious and constant flow of traffic; he wentneighborhood by neighborhood, looking down alleys and into stores. He saw few walkers, even indigenous, though there were kids on bikes; he wondered about their lives in these places, which to him seemed gloomily peripheral, though the kids were cheerful enough.

The regular blocks of commercial avenues and residential streets began gradually to become disordered, thinning like the extremes of a great forest; began to be broken by weedy lots as though by glades; now and then a dusty undergrown woods or a scruffy meadow announced that it was available to be turned into an industrial park. Smoky turned that phrase over in his mind, since that seemed truly the place in the world where he was, the industrial park, between the desert and the sown.

He stopped at a bench where people could catch buses from Somewhere to Elsewhere. He sat, shrugged his small pack from his back, took from it a sandwich he had made himself — another condition — and a confetti-colored gas-station road map. He wasn't sure if the map were forbidden by the conditions, but the directions he'd been given to get to Edgewood weren't explicit, and he opened it.

Now. This blue line was apparently the cracked macadam lined with untenanted brick factories he had been walking along. He turned the map so that this line ran parallel to his bench, as the road did (he wasn't much of a map reader) and found, far off to his left, the place he walked toward. The name Edgewood didn't appear, actually, but it was here somewhere, in this group of five towns marked with the legend's most insignificant bullets. So. There was a mighty double red line that went near there, proud with exits and entrances; he couldn't walk along that. A thick blue line (on the model of the vascular system, Smoky imagined all the traffic flowing south to the city on the blue lines, away on the red) ran somewhat nearer, extending corpuscular access to towns and townlets along the way. The much thinner sclerotic blue line he sat beside was tributary to this; probably commerce had moved there, Tool Town, Food City, Furniture World, Carpet Village. Well... But there was also, almost indistinguishable, a narrow black line he could take soon instead. He thought at first that it led nowhere, but no, it went on, faltering, seeming at first almost forgotten by the mapmaker in the ganglia, but then growing clearer in the northward emptiness, and coming very near a town Smoky knew to be near Edgewood.

That one, then. It seemed a walker's road.

After measuring with his thumb and finger the distance on the map he had come, and how far he had to go (much farther), he slung on his pack, tilted his hat against the sun, and went on.

 

A Long Drink of Water

She was not much in his mind as he walked, though for sure she hadn't been far from it often in the last nearly two years he had loved her; the room he had met her in was one he looked into with the mind's eye often, sometimes with the trepidation he had felt then, but often nowadays with a grateful happiness; looked in to see George Mouse showing him from afar a glass, a pipe, and his two tall cousins: she, and her shy sister behind her.

It was in the Mouse townhouse, last tenanted house on the block, in the library on the third floor, the one whose mullioned windows were patched with cardboard and whose dark rug was worn white in pathways between door, bar and windows. It was that very room.

She was tall.

She was nearly six feet tall, which was several inches taller than Smoky; her sister, just turned fourteen, was as tall as he. Their party dresses were short, and glittered, hers red, her sister's white; their long, long stockings glistened. What was odd was that tall as they were they were shy, especially the younger, who smiled but wouldn't take Smoky's hand, only turned away further behind her sister.

Delicate giantesses. The older glanced toward George as he made debonair introductions. Her smile was tentative. Her hair was red-gold and curly-fine. Her name, George said, was Daily Alice.

He took her hand, looking up. "A long drink of water," he said, and she began to laugh. Her sister laughed too, and George Mouse bent down and slapped his knee. Smoky, not knowing why the old chestnut should be so funny, looked from one to another with a seraphic idiot's grin, his hand unrelinquished.

It was the happiest moment of his life.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

jambyfool, August 15, 2012 (view all comments by jambyfool)
Sui generis. A masterpiece. Indescribably beautiful. What more can one say?
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NC Weil, July 21, 2011 (view all comments by NC Weil)
"Fairy tales are for children." Except in the world of Daily Alice and John Drinkwater, of a house with 5 fronts, a changeling, and relatives who give a nod to Oberon and Titania. The orrery turns in concert with the planets wheeling overhead, and fates smile favour on city refugee and Grandfather Trout alike.
If a life not chained to logic and likelihood has any appeal, you ought to wander in Crowley's wonderland. Without breathtaking feats of sleight-of-hand, Little, Big touches your longing for a world where magic is your Sancho Panza.
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Charlotte, November 13, 2006 (view all comments by Charlotte)
This is truly a magical book. When I first began reading it. I did not like or understand it and became bored. However, because it was a recommendation of one of my favorite authors, Jacqueline Carey, I felt I really needed to read on. If a book does not get my attention by the 3rd or 4th chapter, my usual pattern is to stop reading it and move on to something better - this time I went on reading. So very glad I did - Smokey Barnable and friends will take you, the reader on a very magical and mysterious-and personal- journey. The story weaves in and out of worlds upon worlds and times upon times always taking the reader on a mysterious and complex adventure. Highly recommended to all of you fantasy lovers out there that like to mix magic with reality-and decide for yourself which is which.
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(30 of 57 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780061120053
Author:
Crowley, John
Publisher:
William Morrow Paperbacks
Author:
by John Crowley
Subject:
General
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Magic
Subject:
Fairies
Subject:
Fantasy fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
Reissue ed.
Edition Description:
Trade PB
Series:
P.S.
Publication Date:
October 2006
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
576
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 0.923077 in 20.4 oz

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Genre
Featured Titles » Staff Picks
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Romance » Fantasy
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » A to Z

Little, Big (P.S.) New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$16.99 In Stock
Product details 576 pages HarperCollins Publishers - English 9780061120053 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Ambitious, dazzling, strangely moving."
"Review" by , "The kind of book around which cults are formed, and rightly so. There's magic here."
"Review" by , "A gorgeously written picararesque family saga...[A]rguably Crowley's masterpiece. When 'you'll love this' isn't enough, I have proceeded to claim (as I'm claiming here) that Little, Big is an important American novel that bears comparison to such works as One Hundred Years of Solitude and Nabokov's Ada."
"Review" by , "Little, Big seems to me as miraculous as Shakespeare or Lewis Carroll: it is as if the book had always been there...as though John Crowley found it, and brought it home with him and to us."
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