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Book: Memory and Dream

February 22, 2009
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This is a re-read; I think I read this about 8 years ago. I remember liking it then, and I really enjoyed it this time around as well.

Isabelle, a young artist, is taken under the wing of influential artist Rushkin. She is intially thrilled, but when Rushkin turns violent, is torn between her desire to learn the secret magic he is teaching her, and her concern for her own safety. And once the magic begins to work… Isabelle can’t stop using the secret and can’t stop going to Rushkin’s studio. Her paintings become ‘gateways’ for spirits from another world to enter our world, taking on the form of the subject of the painting.

However, after one violent episode too many, Isabelle finally stops her internship with Rushkin. By this time, her ‘numena’ (the spirits that have taken on new form) are busy living their own lives all around the city of Newford. Until they start disappearing. And then the darkness really begins.

This is a book about when art has a life of its own, and the insatiable desire to create art. It’s also about the deep ties of friendship, being truthful with yourself, and, that old standby, the power of love.

God, I love Charles de Lint novels! Why do I always forget this? He is such an amazing writer and storyteller. I mean, really. This novel is so full of love and magic and amazing lightness and darkness. I really, really enjoyed reading it again.

Isabelle’s paintings ‘bring over’ spirits and they begin their own lives, this really makes me think about why we create art in the first place. It’s to contribute, to create, to bring new life to the world from our vision. But then the art gets its own life, in the people who view or use the creations. Don’t you think? Each work of art, each novel, each quilt, each meal, is appreciated (or not) in a different way by each person who interacts with it. In this way the art has new life…

Anyway. Not such a new idea, I know. I’ve just been thinking about art stuff quite a bit lately, so this was a good book to read at this time. Plus Charles de Lint’s writing is so clear and lovely anytime. His portaiture of a best-friendship was also spot-on — the ways we can love someone so much, and how even the best of friends can have blind spots.

This isn’t a very well-written review. I’m really tired. But I think I’m on a de Lint spree now. I may even have to reread The Little Country, which was my first de Lint novel, which I loved so much. And then that might lead me to reread Little, Big, (by John Crowley) which I read fifteen+ years ago and loved, although I didn’t understand much of it… oh, it’s so hard to choose sometimes. Do I read new novels, or revisit old favorites? Do I read one author for a few weeks, or do I split it up?

As age 35 is drawing closer, I am suddenly quite aware of my limited time here (is it a little early for a mid-life crisis?). Not to get all morbid, but I see very clearly that I can’t read everything I want (among other things). So. Rereading seems an indulgence. However, I enjoyed this re-read so much, that I think I may have to reread some other favorites, for the comfort and joy it brings.

On that note, I’m off to bed. To dream. And perhaps, visit some old memories.

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