Someplace to be Flying

Review: Someplace to be Flying, by Charles de Lint

Pages: 544
ISBN: 0-812-55158-3
Publisher: Tor

Most science fiction and fantasy books are about big things, about large, ambitious plots that define the book, that serve as catch phrases to memory. "Remember the book about...." It makes them easier to get a handle on; you touch on the overall plot, give the person you're talking to an idea of what archtypes of story are blended together, and from that they can get a pretty good idea of whether the ideas are ones they want to spend a few days exploring.

Someplace to be Flying isn't like that. It's not that there isn't a plot... there are two, really, one about Raven's pot, and one about sisters. It's more that the plots, while important, just aren't what the book is about. It's about the characters, about Jack and his stories, about the crow girls, about screwing things up because you're too afraid of screwing them up, about what it feels like to start discovering a whole different way of thinking about the world and then the odd sadness when you realize that some people will just never follow you there, but it's okay, they're still good people. And it's more than that, too... lots of books have excellent characters, but these just live their lives out on the pages in front of you, open and honest and suspicious and defensive, quirky and sad and scarred and earnest.

de Lint talks a little bit on his web pages about how he's had a hard time finding a good term for what he writes, and that he's arrived on "mythic fiction" as a reasonable term. It's urban fantasy, to be sure, but the setting is even more current-day than that might imply; in some ways, it verges on magic realism, but there's more peering under the hood and more actual artifacts, magic, and detail than I'd associate with magic realism. But whatever you want to call it, it's amazing and engrossing.

I loved this book. I loved meeting the whole menagerie of characters, every one of which is significant, interesting, and memorable in some way. There's philosophy in here that really touched me, a certain acceptance of who one is and what one cares about, some real thought about the basis of loyalty and why people help each other and what the costs are. There are also Maida and Zia, the crow girls, two of the most memorable and likable supporting characters that I've ever read about. It's a book that I feel different, calmer, more thoughtful for having read.

It's hard to really describe this one, and unfortunately it's also hard to come by. Charles de Lint's books don't appear to be kept in print very well, and this one seems to be on near-permanent back-order. But if you happen across it in a used bookstore, pick it up and give it a shot. Try the first chapter, because I bet you'll keep reading.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Posted: 2004-05-24 03:04 — Why no comments?

I love de Lint, so I'm sure I'd love this book. You did a really great job of getting at what it is he rights about, because he really is hard to describe. And even more so to describe *why* I like him. So it's refreshing to come upon a review of his stuff that actually follows my own feelings about his work.

And, if you care to find more of his stuff - Subterranean Press is the place to find his writing that is out of print and such. ;)

Posted by Xandra at 2008-02-27 03:35

Last modified and spun 2014-09-14