Monday, April 12, 2010

The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer

Gorgeous. In a melancholy way. That's how I would describe this one. The Dream of Perpetual Motion has to be one of the most amazing books I've read in awhile (Ok, Will Grayson, Will Grayson was pretty good too!). From page 1 to page 340, I was continually just blown away by Dexter Palmer's ideas, his writing, his story, his characters, his world, and more than anything, the ambiance that he created with this book. You know how sometimes you read a book and you just know that it's going to stick with you forever? That 10 years down the road, you'll be able to recall reading it and how you felt reading it at that time? You don't get that with every book that you read. But I know that I'll have that with The Dream of Perpetual Motion. It was just incredible.

This book is set in an alternate version of our current time. Well, the late 20th century, in a fictional town called Xeroville that reminded me of a city similar to New York City. The thing that makes it an alternate version of our time is primarily one man, a man by the name of Prospero Taligent. If the name Prospero sounds familiar to you from The Tempest, that's because there are many allusions made to The Tempest throughout this book, a fact that I absolutely adored as it's one of my favorite Shakespeare plays *see name of blog :p*. Taligent is a sort of mad genius who has built a tower in the city where he builds mechanical men that run the city as well as developing numerous other inventions that the city relies on to operate. He also houses his daughter, Miranda in the tower, shielding her from the horrors of the real world, and his son Caliban, keeping him locked up in a cage but harvesting his genius. But it is not Prospero Taligent that tells the tale of this novel. It is Harold Winslow that is our main character and we meet him aboard a zeppelin flying above the town of Xeroville. And that is where he remains throughout the novel. The Dream of Perpetual Motion is his own tale of how he came to be aboard the zeppelin, and it starts with his life as a child and an invitation to Miranda Taligent's 10th birthday party where he was promised by Prospero Taligent that he would one day have his life's dreams given to him. We follow Harold throughout his life, a life that seems far from happy; a life that seems constantly controlled and manipulated by those around him and those in the shadows, a life that he himself is afraid to take control of. I feel like I can't even describe how incredible this book is. There are so many secondary characters that were just incredible. So many individual scenes that just blew my mind away. There's a scene with Harold's sister, art project and a very strong statement that will just break your heart and awe you all at the same time. There are little conversations between people that just catch your heart in your throat. Every scene with Miranda was so mysterious and just felt so special. The tower itself was so fantastical. There are dreams that Palmer shares with us, ideas that he creates that made me think "how the hell do people even think of this stuff?!" I'm just glad he did! More than anything, I loved the language of this book. It's what truly made the novel. The writing is beyond superb. It's rich, it's warm, it has a melancholy tone, it's smooth. Just gorgeous. I got lost in it so many times. This is a weird thing to say, but the novel feels like the cover of the book. I don't know if that makes any sense, but the cover is just perfect. It captures the feel of the book so well. This is certainly one that's heading onto the favorite shelves and Dexter Palmer is an author that is going onto the favorite shelves as well. Oooh, and I found a website with more info and where you can hear clips of Mr. Palmer reading from the book!

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