A Wild Ride Through the Night

A Wild Ride Through the Night by popular German author Walter Moers (The 13-1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear) could also be called a fantastic voyage through the author's imagination as he delivers a fairy tale starring 12-year-old Gustave Doré, who would grow up to become arguably the greatest illustrator of all time. The novel opens with Gustave at sea, steering his ship Aventure through a storm involving the dreaded "Siamese Twin Tornado." Minutes later, Death shows up on deck and gives the boy six Herculean tasks in order to save his soul. The allegorical odyssey finds the boy pulling a tooth from the Most Monstrous of All Monsters, slaying a dragon, and flying to Death's house on the moon. Reading this fable is like being immersed in one of Doré's illustrations full of writhing serpents, beaked gnomes, hunchbacked frogs, and other misshapen creatures. In fact, the book is peppered with 21 of Doré's woodcuts, which amplify the aura of dread and wonder. Gustave is leaving his childhood behind, and so his journey is dark and fantastic, full of dragons, talking jellyfish, and naked damsels in distress. As a forest witch tells him, "The dream-world is an unpredictable place?. A jungle composed of time, space and providence, of hindsight and foresight, of fears and desires, all jumbled up together." In other words, adulthood. Like the equally lovely and absurd Alice in Wonderland, A Wild Ride Through the Night captures that rough, scary transition we all go through on the downhill slide toward death by way of puberty.

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."