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The Book of Flying Paperback – January 4, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Solemnly sonorous and emptily pretty, this ersatz quest novel tells how a poet struggles to learn to fly and regain a lost love. In a city where some inhabitants sit in cafes while others fly over the sea, Pico, a wingless poet who works as a librarian, falls in love with one of the winged people. When she eludes Pico's grasp, he despairs until he discovers, hidden near his library, a book telling of a ruined town where he can get his own wings. He immediately sets off for the fabled town, his mission taking him through deep forests into the arms of a lusty, gorgeous robber queen whose charms diminish for the reader when she utters cliches like "It's the ultimate theft, the stealing of another's heartbeat." Other encounters-with a talking rabbit who has compiled many fascinating tomes on local flora; with a young man who, in addition to being the poet's near-spitting image, is a cannibal-bring the poet ever closer to his goal, though each new twist in his journey saps his strength. Wallowing in high-flown whimsy and laughably bad poetry ("His tears have entered every well/ and his semen is the sap of peaches"), the novel rolls along predictably, despite Miller's mix of archetypal fantasy elements (flying people, talking animals, journeys through dark woods) and contemporary detail (the love of cigarettes, ever-present cafes, one city composed largely of booksellers). The downbeat ending skirts the obvious, but little else does in this hot-air-filled debut.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Pico is the librarian in his city by the sea: a humble, gentle man, a collector of books, a guardian and caretaker of the stories that are his breath and his life. One fateful day, he falls in love with Sisi, a beautiful, winged girl who cannot truly love a wingless creature like him. So Pico sets off to find Morning Town, where legend says he will find the Book of Flying and get his wings. On the way he has fabulous adventures and meets astonishing people, each of whom provides a gateway to learning something important about himself. Perhaps his most important discovery is that he is the hero of his own story. A beautiful and haunting modern fable that reads like exquisite poetry, Miller's first novel is a coming-of-age story cloaked in the language of myth in which Pico, as his humanity matures and expands to encompass those who are like and those who are unlike him, initially represents and eventually becomes the reader. Paula Luedtke
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
They're dense, and the prose can sometimes be a bit of a slog - but that is because there is a lot going on. The imagery is rich and there is meaning everywhere, but that can be difficult to dive into unless you're prepared for it.
But, if you are prepared, his books create wonderfully beautiful and tragic fantasy worlds. They don't hold your hand and explain it to you as if you are a visitor, yet instead treat you as a tenant of that world listening to the tale directly.
These stories deserve more attention than they get.
The book defies categorization. I would certainly recommend it to readers of speculative fiction, especially those drawn to authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Catherynne M. Valente, but it should also appeal to those who prize words above the distinctions of genre. Rich, frightening and lovely, it lures you in with a fairy tale and then leaves you suspended over an abyss. Cities and wonders whirl below you. The sensation is disturbing as well as marvelous, but what did you expect? You're flying.