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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Dreams Underfoot and Best Essays NW

Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint. New York: Tor, 1993. ISBN: 0312852053.

Best Essays NW, Guy Maynard & Kathleen Holt, Editors. Eugene, Oregon: University of Oregon Press, 2003.

These two books have been my first set of lunch books at my new job. That means they are my lunch time reading, down on the third floor in the staff lunchroom, where I munch my bagel and apple, along with whatever accoutrements I have thought to pack for my noontime delectation. The term delectation, however, applies much more readily to these two books perhaps, than to my typical lunch time fare.

I read the books in alternation. A fantasy short story by de Lint, followed by a NorthWest essay, then another fantasy story, and so on. De Lint's book is considerably thicker, so typically a couple of his stories act as the sandwich bread, with a pungent essay as the filler in between. Then lunch time is over, and it's back to the grindstone.

I previously wrote about de Lint in my Jan. 5 2004 entry, so look there for more detailed background on his style of writing, a unique kind of "urban fantasy" that is rewarding on the one hand, but not something to make a steady diet of, on the other. I plan to read all of his books eventually, but not all at once surely. Spread out, with one or two a year, that's the plan.

The essay collection, on yet another hand (how many hands am I allowed?) is another kettle of fish entirely, to start mixing my metaphors. These essays are truly a rare find, almost every one a short jewel of its kind. This is writing that makes you think, while celebrating its subject, life in the northwest, with every line you read. "Speaking Oregon" is a good example of how life in this part of the country can inculcate itself into the very fiber of your inner self.

There are some wonderful stories in the de Lint though, don't get me wrong. "Time Skip" which starts out one story right near the beginning of the book, and "Paperjack," which brings it to closure, just before the book ends, are by themselves worth the price of admission. They are very reminiscent of Jack Finney's Time and Again, another masterpiece of time travel, both examples written in a way that has nothing to do with technology or time machines. Rather the power of events that overlap, somehow.

My favorite essays are probably the two that talk about logging, "Death of a Gyppo" and "The Last Log." As much as I deplore the effects of the logging industry on the country around me, as much as I hate the very notion of clear cutting, these vignettes bring home the integral role that the industry has had in shaping life in the northwest. They are moving expressions of a way of life that is rapidly vanishing. But the best of all is the brief 3-page panegyric "I Love the Rain," which just about sums it all up. This book is highly strongly emphatically recommended!

Dreams Underfoot is also recommended, along with the rest of the author's work.


  • Hello,

    Thanks for sharing this link - but unfortunately it seems to be down? Does anybody here at tillabooks.blogspot.com have a mirror or another source?


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:53 PM  

  • Hi Anonymous Jack,

    I'm not sure what link you're referring to. I checked the links in this post, and they all seem to be working just fine.


    By Blogger Will, at 10:43 PM  

  • Hi,

    This is a inquiry for the webmaster/admin here at tillabooks.blogspot.com.

    Can I use part of the information from this blog post right above if I provide a link back to your site?


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:25 PM  

  • Hello Anonymous John,

    That's fine by me!


    By Blogger Will, at 10:26 PM  

  • Hey - I am certainly delighted to find this. Good job!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:15 PM  

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