Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Guest Review: Allen Frost reviewed by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

Allen Frost. The Mermaid Translation. Huron, Oh.: Bottom Dog Press/ Bird Dog Publishing, 2010. Fiction. 140 pages. ISBN: 978-1933964409.

I know nothing about this author or his intentions. As I read this I wondered what it would've been like to read it at age 8. I reckon that might've been when it would've seemed the most magical to me. It seems like it'd be in good company if it were to be grouped with L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, Evans G. Valens' Me and Frumpet: An Adventure With Size and Science, & Tolkien's The Hobbit - all of which stimulated my imagination, sense of wonder, & ability to daydream when I was 8 or 9. I'm further reminded a tad of novels for adults like In the Days of the American Museum by Robert Edric & Leonora Carrington's The Hearing Trumpet. While in some respects the novel seems surreal it's not really stream-of-unconsciousness enough to be surrealist. It's more stolidly in the tradition of kids books everywhere - there're ethical underpinnings that're a relief to me as an adult who's often exasperated by the boneheaded macho behavior of the male world. THIS BOOK IS (mostly) GENTLE - & thank goodness for that. The chapters are short, the language is simple, the characters are 'exotic': a former deep-sea diver, a mermaid, dolphins, a magician, elephants. The world is post-empire & the forces of fantasy are free-ranging.

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