Sunday, June 9, 2013

Fables and I Break Up

Redemption in Indigo

by Karen Lord

Published by Small Beer Press

3 out of 5 Stars

What a lukewarm cup of "meh." After all of the stellar reviews, I just knew this was going to be ah-may-zing, but, alas, it's basically a fable. Ever since Paulo Coelho's New Agey-craptastic The Alchemist, me + fables = nervous twitch. Because I start to develop a Community's Jeff Winger like aversion to the feeling that someone's trying to teach me something--and I never learn anything! This didn't turn out to be as didactic as The Alchemist because it's more focused on the storytelling than on the lesson, but just waiting for that other moral-of-the-story shoe to fall was mentally exhausting.

The basic premise of the story is that the deity known as Chance has become hardened toward mankind. Over the years, he has watched as men have squandered second chances and made a mockery/waste of the gift that is life. For this reason, the other gods no longer trust him with the Chaos Stick, the instrument of chance to nudge events toward a certain probability. The Chaos Stick is stolen from Chance and given to a woman named Paama who has proven herself to be kind, patient, and impervious to the suggestions of the minor Trickster deities who sometimes inhabit the bodies of insects and stir up mischief whenever possible. When Chance discovers Paama has his power, he sets about trying to get it back.

The story was marginally entertaining and it was at least a quick read, but even at that the plot seemed to drag on. This is not necessarily a criticism of Lord as the book does what it's intended to do: mimic the narrative style of a traditional storyteller who is in no hurry to get to the end of the tale and is even eager to follow parallel narratives to their endings before bringing the main story to a close. I suppose this storytelling style had a certain charm when villagers gathered around the campfire each night to listen to the newest installment of the tale (it's not like there was tv to watch or books to read, so I guess sitting in the dark and listening to an old man ramble on was the cat's pajamas after a long day of running from lions and whatnot). However, this meandering quality did not translate well into written form for me as I expected it to be more cohesive and more to the point. The plot itself was like a dog chasing rabbits in the middle of a hunt, and the characters were fairly uninteresting and one-dimensional (except for Paama, but even she was bland). Again, all of this is as it should be for a fable. What I've really learned from this reading experience is that fables and I need to break up and maybe see other people. Don't look at me like that, fables--it's not me, it's you.

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