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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
"twilight is the hour i love" he told her "the hour where nothing is quite itself, all things teetering at the edges of their names. Here I can be alone and a stranger to myself"
-Keith Miller "The Book Of Flying"
Apparently this is a book you either will love or regret having read. I am not going to try and win anyone over- the writing speaks for itself.
I loved the lyricism and beauty of the writer's voice, and the plot, which wouldn't have been all that interesting on its own, was brought to life. This book is one to cry over or turn your back to.
In this quaint and poignant tale, we learn of Pico, the sad librarian who lives in a city of people who do not read. He became one of my favorite characters of literature, hitting so close to my heart. Living myself in a world that looks down upon poetry, arts and literature, I felt for Pico almost instantly. If you are already rolling your eyes over this review, go elsewhere. If not, move on.
This is story about stories; every characer Pico meets has a story to tell, as does he, each one beautiful in their own way and all of them sad. Pico, a shy and quiet young poet is in love with a winged girl. He is alone because he is himself son of winged parents, though born without wings. But their love is forbidden and so he sets out to find his wings. Among what he packs are a few books and, most important, his book of poetry.
The prose in this book was beautiful--and I'm hard to please. But the moody and despondant air of the novel was such that I could always write well when I finished a chapter. I found it a wonderful source of inspiration. The characters were varied and interesting, and so were their stories. The story I loved the most, was the one of the world where you read rather than eat and poisonous books can kill you with a glance--but the one glance is worth it.
Ultimately, the crowning glory of the book is when Pico, lost and stranded in the desert, leaves his gear behind, one by one, until lastly, and reluctantly, he lets go of his poetry book.
And the part in the end, about the scrolls he had given to his love...
For those of you who complain about the title--which I love, and which I bought the book for--the novel is named for the book Pico searches for, which will give him wings if he finds it. The only thing I didn't like about this book was the cover.
Other than that, it truly is a 'fantastical debut novel'. For those who love beauty and cherish poetry, this book is for you.
"Dreams are the soul of the imagination, the slender and evasive revenants of the shells we erect as our dwellings. We build our shells from the sand of our ground bones, mortared with our very blood, and imagine we fence the dreams away but we only fence them in. A few, the rare, the beautiful, remain as near to the heat of their dreams as children, and we know them by their laughter, by the ease with which they are moved to tears, by our own desire to be around them."
--Chapter 5: The Dream Seller
-The Book of Flying,
Born of the same spirit as Coelho's "The Alchemist", "The Book of Flying" evokes similar emotions and relies on the same fable-like elements.
Though the poetic meter was impeccable, the strength of the writing alone wasn't enough to sustain the flight of the story. The plot begins strong but about halfway through, the main character loses his interest in his quest and from then on the rest of the story stuggles to say aloft.
Narya, a friend of the main character, Pico, becomes so disillusioned with his fall that she leaves and sets out on her own adventure. She had the right idea. I found myself more interested in following in her footsteps and less inclinced to endure three more chapters of mental hand wringing with our hero.
The remaining turn of events for Pico, though dramatic, lack the spark of his earlier encounters. I felt the character elements of the story would have been much stronger had Narya accompanied him on the last leg of the journey.
Though I thoroughly enjoyed the writing, the story didn't live up to my expectations. In fact, it crash-landed.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
They're dense, and the prose can sometimes be a bit of a slog - but that is because there is a lot...Read more