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 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.