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Aurorarama Hardcover – August 31, 2010
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|Title page||A Panorama of New Venice||"He drew a curtain aside..."||"...the disused Pneumatic subway line"|
From Bookmarks Magazine
Top Customer Reviews
The principle characters are Brentford Orsini and Gabriel d'Allier. While friends, their stories are told and tend to overlap in alternating chapters. Both have been close to the political heart of New Venice and both, in varying degrees of involvement, have become entrenched in the rebellion that has formed within the underbelly of the city. With Eskimo outlaws, a secret police force, a strange unexplained airship hovering over the city, visions and mysticism, magic and hypnotism--and lest I leave out my personal favorite, a ventriloquist's dummy with a nasty bite--Valtat's surrealism is part poetry, part lunacy.
I suspect "Aurorarama" will be a polarizing volume--you'll love its lyricism or you'll say "What the heck????" I really, really enjoyed the writing--the flow, the feel, the evocative nature that is created. But that said, I can't honestly say that I would recommend the book to very many people. It seems almost like a literary experiment that should be admired for its ambitions as opposed to a work to be universally embraced.Read more ›
Aurorarama is not so much a novel as a phantasmagoria. It is a nightmare vision expressed in over-the-top eloquence that is vaguely reminiscent of the language of the great Gormenghast fantasy novels of Mervin Peake (Titus Groan, etc.). The Edgar-Allan-Poe-vian plotting and language of this book remind me of how I felt when I first read G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday. Here's an example, but one has to read enough of this book to be caught up in its style and the propulsion of its plotting to appreciate it fully. Still, here's an example: "New Venice ... was the quintessence of what Mankind was about ... the single-mindedness of surviving at all costs, even if it meant eating up the rotting corpses of your friends, and a certain sense of the grandiloquent gesture and gratuitous ornament." The author's exotic, fin-de-siecle prose style uses extensive similes that sometimes work (on the abrupt departure of a sinister magician: "He heard his steps cascading down the stairs, like an avalanche of poisoned apples, and the door slammed shut.Read more ›
New Venice is an interesting place, and you really can't blame Mr. Valtat for spending so much time talking about it. Its seedy underworld is the habitat of Gabriel, a college professor and drug addict whose adventures alternate between the hilarious, the sordid, and the heartbreaking. His friend Brentford spends his time in more respectable surroundings (or not, depending on your point of view), so we also get to see the workings of New Venice's government and military, which topic isn't actually as dry as that description makes it sound. Throw in two dead women who won't stay dead, some magic, various types of interaction with the native Inuit, an oppressive police force, and the author's mischievous sense of humor, and you've got a pretty entertaining story, all told. Gabriel is by far the best thing about the novel, an addled jerk who is literally (but not cheesily) transformed by the power of love.
The book's weaknesses are its narrow take on its female characters (the ones who aren't dead are harpies or sex toys, sometimes hypnotized sex toys) and its extremely peculiar English, obviously written by someone who is not a native speaker of the language. I assume the more glaring errors will be corrected by the time this novel hits bookstore shelves, but getting through all the linguistic quirks and mistakes was a chore and I doubt a copyeditor will have time to fix everything.
If you enjoy steampunk novels, or you're just looking for something different, I'd recommend you give it a try.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I wanted to like this book--it has a great premise and a lot of potentially good world-building in it. But for me it never gelled. Read morePublished 18 months ago by LowbrowLitLover
I really enjoyed this book. It had an unusual plot, many, many great moments of Steam Punk concepts, and interesting, complex characters. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Lou
A beautifully written book, in a gorgeous world, but the characterization did not appeal.Published 20 months ago by M.
I picked this up on the strength of its setting -- a retrofuturistic canal-chopped Arctic city called "New Venice. Read morePublished on July 23, 2014 by A. Ross
There is nothing more disappointing than a book that fails to live up to its hype. Unfortunately, Aurorarama falls squarely into this category. Read morePublished on May 23, 2014 by Nolite 17
What a mad journey. Morals, mad characters, la belle epoque set in a fictions world, magic, rebels, indigenous people, set in a cold, cold world of snow and ice!Published on September 20, 2013 by V
Absorbing the words contained in this book was a way I chose to pass some time. Before giving up, realizing I could go no further. Seriously, what made me buy this?Published on August 29, 2013 by Liz Lemon
Perhaps it is not my type of book,I find it hard to rate it at all. The three stars are for the author who has done a great work in producing it. Read morePublished on August 22, 2013 by jim,harrison
I've given Aurorarama four stars as a reward for the sophistication and polish with which Valtat accomplishes what he sets out to do: produce a complex, linguistically... Read morePublished on April 5, 2013 by Joshua Villines