Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Book of Flying by Keith Miller

Almost a year ago I had written a post asking what people's favorite books were...what books had left the biggest impact on you, stuck with you...and Carl had mentioned Keith Miller's The Book of Flying. So I added it onto my wishlist as I tend to have very similar reading tastes to his. I've just finished reading this book and it's left me completely in awe of Keith Miller's ability as a writer and teller of tales. Keith Miller has created a melancholy masterpiece with The Book of Flying. If it's possible for a book to evoke the five senses solely through the eyes in reading it, then Miller has done it. He writes such beautiful prose that makes us long for a time that we've never known ourselves...that makes us want to eat pomegranates, dates, almonds and oranges whether we like them or not...sit in cafes listening to poetry and discovering books for the first time all over again...falling in love over cups of coffee and rolled tobacco. So what's the story actually about you may ask? Pico is a young man living in a city by the sea where he takes care of the only library and collects tales. He is a poet and is devoted to words and literature. Pico was born without wings and forced to live an earthbound life. You see, the city by the sea is populated by those with wings and those without and the two do not intermingle. When his mother delivered him wingless, she took care of him and then retired him to the library where he learned to read and began his love affair with books. However, Pico falls in love with a winged girl by the name of Sisi and she in turn falls in love with him. But their relationship cannot last, for it is taboo and forbidden by Sisi's father. There is, however, rumor of a book called The Book of Flying that lies in a city by the name of Paunpuam but it will take many days journey to an uncharted territory for Pico to get there. If he does get there though, he can gain his wings by reading this book. Consumed by his love for Sisi, Pico sets off on his journey and I will leave the rest of the story in your hands. But along the way, He collects tales from those that he meets and we are told those tales. He meets other people and beings that are alien to his way of life in the city by the sea and he in turn is alien to them, but they learn from each other and grow. The back cover says that this is a "story about stories, a book about books, and how they open our hearts and minds." And that is a perfect description of this novel. Absolutely beautiful book and I'm imagining that it'll be in my top 3 for the year unless something else just blows it out the water. Here are the opening lines of the novel to show you the beauty of Mr. Miller's writing: "I am dreaming. I'm dreaming of a city, a white city in the sun by the sea, a city of bells and birdcages, boatswains and ballyhoo, where heart-faced wenches lean bare-breasted from balconies to dry their hair among geraniums and the air is salt and soft and in the harbor sailors swagger from ships that bear cargos of spices. In this city a thousand doves live in the hundred towers of a hundred bells and in the mornings when the bell ringers toll a summons to the sun the doves scatter like blown ash across the tile roofs and light under eaves whispering lulling words to sleepers, bidding them stay in bed a little longer. And on the silver sky other wings rise." There are some copies available on Book Closeouts for 4.99 which is an awesome price! That's for the hardcover too. The book itself is presented beautifully with some really cool, yet simple artwork that's fitting to the story that the author himself did. Sadly it looks like this book is out of print everywhere else. Can't find it on Amazon...only used copies. Edit/Update: It came up in the comments that my review could lead one to believe that this is a young adult book and I can see that now, but it's not. I just didn't want to go too much into the plot because every word and every tale and story along Pico's journey is so important to book. However, there are aspects to this book that are more adult and while they are not horribly graphic, I do think that some of these things remain for adults...having said that, I don't think this book would be unsuitable for someone say 15+ If you're unsure of it, you may want to read it first. They may not get the enjoyment out of it that an adult would though as it's not very action driven...I think the power behind this book lies in it's atmosphere and it's stories that it tells.

No comments: