Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Folk of the Fringe by Orson Scott Card

I have to admit that when I started The Folk of the Fringe I though that I was going to hate it and that made me very upset. I couldn't imagine not liking a book by my favorite author, but here it was staring me in the face...the inevitable book that wouldn't do it for me. You may think these are quite high expectations, but honestly I've read probably 30 books by him and have like every single one of them and many of those are among my all time favorite books, Speaker for the Dead being my favorite. So I always expect a great book when I have an OSC title in my hands. I had been avoiding this one for some time though...I didn't like the cover, my copy is old and yellowed and used looking, and it's just one of those books that you don't hear much about. So I guess I went into it biased. And my mind was on other things when I started reading it. It took me about 75 pages to get into the book, but I breezed through the other 225 today and yesterday and I have to say that I really enjoyed the rest of it. Nymeth left a comment on my Friday post saying that sometimes it's just a matter of timing with books and whether we like them or not and I couldn't agree more. You can go back to a book at a different time in your life (for me a week later) and have a totally different reaction to it depending on what's going on. The Folk of the Fringe is a book of short stories that are intertwined that center around a civilization of Mormons and a few non-Mormon characters trying to maintain civilization after a nuclear holocaust has struck the United States. I think one thing that kept me from immediately engaging with the book was the fact that it was centered around Mormon culture, something near and dear to OSC's heart. I've always enjoyed reading about other religions and I'm somewhat familiar with the Mormon religion from OSC's other works, but this had a lot of Mormon references in it. Once I became settled into the story though, it felt like home. Though it is a collection of separate stories, they are all related and characters flow throughout stories. Those characters are built so perfectly, a talent that OSC has mastered. In just a few short pages he has you feeling like you have known them forever. He give us stories of a non-religious man aiding a group of Mormons on their dangerous journey from the East Coast to Utah during times when people will kill for anything salvageable. There's the story of a great Mormon temple that is rumored to have gold inside that is now under water after the nuclear disaster. A tale of a teacher with palsy who puts his life in the hands of vindictive children for the safety of the whole community. A story of a traveling theatre group that brings a rare night of joy to a town in the form of a pageant while their own drama unfolds behind the curtain. And my favorite was the story of a boy who is to achieve greatness but travels to Brazil in the Amazon where the Europeans are claiming the land as their own to meet an Indian woman who he shares the power of dreams with. These descriptions are vague, I know, but my review would go on forever if I described all of the stories in detail. But they're good...very good. He wrote an excellent afterword at the end of the book too describing the process of writing this book too and I found out that he actually started writing Speaker for the Dead while writing this! So this completes the Margaret A. Edwards Challenge for about just in the nick of time! I read: 1. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey 2. Gifts by Ursula K. Leguin 3. The Folk of the Fringe by Orson Scott Card Thanks for hosting this one Becky!! I thoroughly enjoyed each book in this challenge and will continue both series that I started! I also have a winner to announce today for the drawing for The Book of Ballads by Charles Vess!! The Winner is DEBI of Nothing of Importance!!!!!! Congrats Deb :) Send me your snail mail address at chrisa511(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll get it right out to you!

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